House Care, Model Covered Wagons, and Other Business Startups

This installment of an ongoing business startups feature profiles a Nevada City woman who established a house care business for absent vacationers and a Canadian man who makes models of covered wagons.

| March/April 1979

The following are business startups that readers established after reading articles in MOTHER EARTH NEWS.    

House Care

Not long ago, I discovered firsthand that a young housewife in search of employment is likely to run into a blank wall, unless she's willing to do the "office" route. As a result, I found myself stumped and frustrated as to employment possibilities. I simply could not come up with an idea that appealed to me until I read "You Can Earn Extra Cash With a Lawn-Mowing Business."  That article sparked the idea for a similar enterprise which was more in my line: a vacation home-care service!

I decided that I would "oversee" vacationers' property for a flat daily fee. And so I began. My initial investment was $115, and for that amount I [a] filed a fictitious name statement with the county and published it in the newspaper for four weeks ($32), [b] saw a lawyer once to draft individual client contracts ($10), [c] had the contracts plus flyers, business cards, postcards, and fee schedules printed ($53), and [d] advertised in three newspapers and "throwaways" for two weeks ($20).

I set my basic rate at $3.00 per day: This includes a daily visit to the home, a complete security check of doors and windows, mail and newspaper pickup, watering of house plants, and lighting arrangements agreed on in advance with my client. (I charge extra for pet care and for any additional services requested by the customer.)

My first week in business earned me a total of $75 from three customers who had at least one pet each. The time expended on each visit—excluding travel time—turned out to be just 15 to 20 minutes, so that my pay averaged out to between $5 and $10 per hour.

My business is a unique one, and it's satisfying and financially rewarding as well. If anyone out there is interested, I'd be glad to answer questions and send copies of my printed forms for a couple of dollars to cover postage and processing costs. I'm willing to bet that there's a need for a vacation service in your neck of the woods, too!

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