An aspect of survival preparedness that is easily overlooked and sometimes ignored is the utilization of a home-based small business as a means of financial preparation as well as a method of acquiring and stockpiling survival necessities. It appears likely that some level of collapse and restructuring of our financial and monetary system will take place in the near future. Establishing your own business is a good way to protect against a financial system catastrophe and prepare for other disastrous events.
Starting and growing a small business may seem a daunting task for many, however, it can be done with very little start-up capital by utilizing resources you may already have. Some intangible principles needed for any business start-up should be familiar to most readers of this blog. They include: goal oriented planning, hard work, resourcefulness, ethics, sacrifice, and a good team to work with. As a business owner, I can confirm that if you plan to start a business, be prepared to work many long, hard hours if you expect any measure of success.
Before considering starting a business, look in the mirror. Define your core competencies. In this country, business opportunities are endless so you must carve yourself a niche based on your strengths. Everyone is unique and holds particular skills and talents. It is essential that you identify and take advantage of these strengths not only in business, but in all aspects of life. Know yourself.
The clichéd idea of goal setting is actually a very useful and essential tool in both prepping and business. For many people, making a simple list is the most effective way of setting and executing goals. I have found that it is important to keep two sets of goals at all times: long term and short term. A list of goals should be periodically updated as part of an ongoing assessment of your current and projected situation. Without clearly defined goals it is easy to fall into a state of complacency and lose your direction. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, start with smaller, more attainable goals. Achieving these short term goals will facilitate the execution of your larger long term goals. The satisfaction of achieving goals can become a genuinely strong motivating force.
Once you have defined your goals and core competencies, the actual process of starting a business is quite easy. Most states have a web site that can assist you in forming your business. Online legal services like LegalZoom.com can make it easy to do all of the proper filings. Your lawyer can also guide you in the right direction. Legal and state filing fees vary from state to state, but expect to spend at least $500 on this process. Depending on your business and the state you are in, there may be insurance requirements as well. It is important to consult a lawyer and accountant when considering starting a business.
I am a carpenter by trade, so start-up of our remodeling company for my partner (brother) and I was relatively inexpensive. We already had trucks, tools, computers, etc., so it was really a matter of organization. I have an associate’s degree in business and my brother has a bachelor’s degree in advertising, so we did start the venture with some business background. We both also had extensive backgrounds in construction. However, continuing education through books, trade publications, and classes has been and continues to be an invaluable resource for us. Continually developing your skills and knowledge goes hand in hand with the growth of a business. Whatever field of business you choose, it is important to not only have business skills, but to become an expert in your field. There is no substitute for experience, so identifying and developing your core competencies is crucial.
We started our remodeling company in August of 2008, which was the start of the worst period ever for remodelers and home builders. We worked out of my garage and the back of my Ford Ranger for the first year or so, and it was not easy. However, because we started with what we had, and avoided the trap of heavily leveraging ourselves, we have seen consistent growth each year. Our sales have doubled every year since start-up, we have one company vehicle (soon to be two), a 3,000 square foot shop in which we are building a 400 square foot design/sales center, one full-time employee and one part-time employee (in addition to my brother and I), a network of clients, suppliers, and reliable sub-contractors, and virtually zero debt.
You might be wondering what growing a remodeling company has to do with survival preparedness Any business provides its owner(s) with an opportunity to acquire things they want without having to pay for them directly while providing a tax shelter. I certainly don’t suggest doing anything illegal, so always consult a lawyer and accountant with any tax or liability questions.
Our shop has a modest, but growing stock of lumber, hardware, fasteners, electrical and plumbing supplies, tools, kerosene heaters, cleaning supplies, and various other supplies and equipment that are handy for home repair and improvement (or future barter/trade). The best part is that, through reinvestment of profits, we acquired all of this stuff without coming out of pocket. Also, because these items are business expenses, our tax burden is decreased each time we acquire them.
Another less obvious advantage to business as it relates to survival prep is the networking opportunity. Our growing group of clients, suppliers, and sub contractors is a resource rich network of people that otherwise would’ve never been presented to me. For instance, one of our sub contractors has a rural property that could potentially make an ideal bug out location. We have actually performed some barter work with this individual, so future trade/barter lines have already been established. He also has some heavy equipment (backhoe, bulldozer) which is always a valuable resource. One of our clients is a local jeweler who also deals in coins. I’ve been able to purchase silver coin and bullion from him at below market premiums. He is also open to paying us in silver or gold for our work. He maintains a reasonable stock of gold and silver and has the ability to test and meltdown metals as well. Needless to say, this is a good contact. Our main plumbing supplier regularly alerts us to future fluctuations in price for things like copper and plastic pipe and fittings allowing us to stock up on these items before price increases. Having a large stockpile of copper pipe and fittings prior to a major currency devaluation would certainly not be a liability if SHTF. Developing relationships with clients, suppliers, and sub contractors is an excellent exercise in survival prep as it is important to take advantage of all available resources before and after a SHTF event.
The survival prep principles and ideas that I’ve outlined as they apply to my business could apply to any business you could imagine. I was at my local (locally owned) gun shop/range yesterday with some friends honing our shooting skills and realized that the patriots who own and operate this shop certainly have an excellent resource base for a post SHTF scenario. I had actually done some remodeling work at this gun shop roughly seven years ago when the current owners took over, and they have really made strides in growing their business since then. Their stock includes hundreds of guns and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition as well as tactical gear, knives, and other accessories. They also offer training courses in shooting and self defense, and have a very nice indoor range. The point is that this group of entrepreneurs identified their core competencies (guns) then set and accomplished some goals. Now they have a large retail stock of arguably one of the most valuable post-SHTF commodities that you could imagine. Not to mention, it must be pretty cool walking into work every day and seeing an Armalite AR50-A1 .50 BMG caliber rifle sitting on the shelf with a case full of shells the size of bananas.
There are countless way to go into business for yourself that could give you a major advantage as you prepare for whatever is coming. If you love fashion and clothing, start a dress shop. Seamstress skills and equipment will be extremely valuable post SHTF. Do you love to cook? Open a diner or restaurant. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a bunch of food and cooking supplies on hand. Do you love the outdoors? Start an online outfitter’s retail site. Selling camping and survival gear is a great way to supplement your own survival needs. Are you a talented writer? Start a survival blog web site and publish books that contain invaluable information needed when considering preparation for any type of disaster. On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t do that last one. The bottom line is that almost any business endeavor you can imagine can provide some practical advantage to the prepper lifestyle. You just need to apply some basic principles that you already have. The gratification and independence achieved by building your own business can help you prepare for whatever happens in life in more ways than you might think. Independent entrepreneurship is what made this country great, and I believe that that spirit is what will drive us through the hard times ahead.