One of the golden trout rising on our pond.
Our farm manager and his son drove to Rural Retreat Virgina and the Cedar Creek Fish Hatchery. They brought back the fish in a large aerated tank. We dipped them out and eased them into the pond.
We raise rainbow and brook trout for the market, but add in a few golden trout for decoration. Normally it takes a day or two for the fish to become active and fed, but the golden trout began jumping and eating right away. That’s a good sign that these trout will do well.
I do not expect that this to ever be a big business. The reasons for having this small business have big implications that might help us all live better. That’s why I would like to share these ideas with you.
First, this business is fun. Merri and I like feeding the fish, watching them jump in the pond. Once in awhile I drag our my fly rod, get the smoker ready or Merri gets the Dutch oven warmed up and we have a trout feast.
The business helps us meet like-minded souls. We sell our trout at a local butcher shop that’s like a cooperative and supports about 40 local farms. Most of the farmers selling through the shop are interested in non-gmo, organic, sustainably raised, humanely harvested food. We have that common interest so we find that many people we meet really interesting.
Home page of Rose Mountain Butcher Shop.
This is a Pruppie type business. Pruppies like businesses that take advantage of modern technology and profit under existing circumstances, but would also be useful if society and the economy, as we know it, falls apart. In this case I have several hundred pounds of fresh, healthy protein swimming around in our front yard.
Little streams of income lead to a lot. Having a number of small businesses, that are all fun, can create an income stream that helps improve our lifestyle. At the least , it turns the activities we choose to have in life from after tax events to tax deductible pleasures.
The sum of the parts can outweigh the whole. Our small businesses enhance one another. Writing about life on the farm can attract readers who stay at the cabins we offer on AIRBNB. The trout pond helps guests enjoy their stay more (and they sometimes buy a big trout). The trout business introduces me to people who may be interested in our organic oranges or ginseng. Those who are interested in organic clean food are likely to buy organic BioWash and Purely Green to improve their nutrition. Each small business we have helps make our other small businesses better. All of these micro businesses give us good experiences so we have something realistic to write about.
This connection between our small businesses uses a formula I call focus refinement, where the sale and successful delivery of one product leads to the sale of another, totally different, but somehow related product or service.
There is always something we do not know. Merri and I try many things. We have trout in the pond and ginseng growing in numerous patches around. We do not expect these businesses to become substantial, but keep our eyes open and our senses glued to what’s going on. Our goal in business is to always be spending our greatest effort on the areas of business that are currently trending.
The businesses come naturally. We do not try to push water uphill. Both the ginseng and trout thrive at our farm because natural conditions support them here. We don’t have to do much to support these businesses. They sprang naturally from our desires and flow easily because trout and ginseng grow well here naturally. We have no plans to expand these micro businesses, but do watch for circumstances that would suggest it would be easy, natural and enjoyable to expand anyone of these businesses we have.
This is what happened with our publishing and seminar business in Ecuador. In the 1980s and early 1990s our publishing seminar business was all about printed matter and international business. When we decided (for lifestyle reasons) to move to a farm where there was no close printer nor mailing center that met our needs, we shifted to Internet only business and took a holiday in Ecuador.
We saw opportunity in tremendous Ecuador real estate values. We tried just a little tour. That worked well and we expanded. Within a couple of years we had the largest Ecuador real estate tour business going. When increased competition changed what we had to do in business and more grandchildren (in America and England) changed what we do in life, we moved on. A micro business, we already had in Florida, started to expand on its own accord so so it was an easy shift.
Over nearly 50 years, our business has changed again and again, but the change has been positive because we follow the directions of our purpose and are continually trying new things. All research ultimately is based on trial and error. When we try many things, a lot of them won’t work well. This is why we like to start small.
When we were in Ecuador our advice was always, visit first, rent second and buy third only after you have a feeling for what’s going on. This is good advice in all business and in all of life. Keep doing new interesting things. Don’t worry if they don’t work out. Enjoy the process and watch for the activities that seem to unfold easily, enjoyable and naturally. The easy expansions will be the ones that bring the greatest fulfillment and profit.