I once had the great misfortune to work for Best Buy for nearly 5 years.  In fact, I left exactly two months before my five year mark.  Hilariously, I will be leaving my current employer exactly THREE months before my five year mark.  Almost to the day.  Yet I digress, that has nothing to do with anything.

When I first started working for them, they were an electronics retailer and very little else, they were just starting their big expansion run.  At some point during our big growthsplosion, our CEO made the following announcement “Right now, we are an electronics company that sells services.  In five years, we want to be a services company that sells electronics.”  Interesting thought, and certainly a departure from the typical mold of the electronics world.  Now, I don’t work there anymore, but I would say given the free fall of their stock price, and the fact that their website features primarily electronic products, I am thinking they failed.

Yet for all of Best Buy’s ham fisted handling of, well, everything they ever touch.  They did have a point.  What was going to keep them relevant in a world where every product they sell could be purchased cheaper elsewhere?  Service wasn’t their key, since an entire store run by 21yo and under is going to have horrible service.  Selling a $99 warranty on a $99 product won’t last long.  So what then?  Selling the processes that make the item itself possible, and selling the knowledge and accessibility to create the confidence to use that knowledge.

So what do the trials and tribulations of an electronics realtor have to do with the homesteading world?  Everything.

As I talked about yesterday, there is no long term viable market for commodity products.  No matter how neat and nifty your aquaponics lettuce is, you cannot sell enough of it to make a living off of.  Your chicken eggs are awesome, but what they aren’t, is profitable.  So you need to branch out to better products if you are staying in the product business, or you need to get into the services business.

I have only been deeply immersed in this homesteading community for since I got my chickens in June.  That’s less than a year.  In that time, it is very easy to forget how much we know that the average person doesn’t.  That knowledge is valuable, and it can be converted to money.

Don’t sell aquaponics lettuce, sell classes where you show how to build and maintain an aquaponics system.  Offer tours of your garden for a small fee, talk about how you grow what you grow, show them how you do it.  Then send them home with some produce to inspire them.  Don’t sell chicken eggs.  Sell a class covering how to incubate eggs, care for chicks and provide proper chicken care.  If you do meat birds, sell a class where you slaughter a chicken.  I’ll tell you what, if I wanted to get into meat production, that’s a class even I would take.  Heck, give em the chicken for free if they do it right. Worst case scenario, you just figured out how to sell a pastured chicken for $70 instead of for $20.  Sounds like a good way to go for me.

No matter what it is you know in the homesteading world, there are thousands of people out there who don’t know how to do it.  That is your market.  Reach out to them.  Everyone in our area wants to do for themselves, but most of these skills have been lost.  We all need people to teach us, so become a passionate ambassador about what it is you know and teach it to others.  Once you figure this out, you will be playing chess, while everyone else will be staring at a checker-board.  How easy is it to win a game only you are playing?