Handyman Work, Lawn Service Business, and Other Startups

In this installment of an ongoing feature, a rural northern California resident who gradually found his way into handyman work and a college student who set up a law service business are among the startups readers reported establishing.

| September/October 1981

  • 071 handyman work
    The handyman work  that found its way to Orangevale, CA resident Jim Myers included building decks like this one. 

  • 071 handyman work

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

Rural Handyman Work

I was selling real estate In Los Angeles when I first saw a copy of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Well, I read that magazine from cover to cover, and before long I realized I was both in the wrong place and in the wrong line of work. Soon thereafter my wife and I packed up and moved to rural northern California, but I didn't know—at that time—what I was going to do to earn a living. Then along came another issue. The article "Food Self-Sufficiency Tips" hit me just as hard as had the first issue I'd seen. t figured that if I really wanted to live in the country, I needed to team to take care of myself ...and that included working for myself.   

So, being fairly handy and owning a few tools, I decided to try my hand at carpentry. My initial investment was $300 for redwood lumber, with which I made picnic tables, benches, and mailboxes. I set up shop on the roadside, and sold my first batch of items in a hurry. Then one of my customers returned to ask me to build a redwood deck at his home! Well, that was my first big job; it earned me $500 In just a week and a half. Our new lifestyle was, I thought, off to a pretty good start. 

I continued to market my wares along the roadside and to get offers of other work, including everything from carpentry to plumbing and electrical repair jobs. The woodcraft sales were profitable, but the personal referrals—along with a handyman ad I placed in the local newspaper—got me busy in a hurry and actually made me a financially self-sufficient country man.

Since that initial $300 Investment, all of our expenses have been paid out of profits, and customers have rented any necessary tools I couldn't afford. I'm now earning around $1,200 a month ...and it could be a larger figure than that, but I prefer to allow myself a bit of free time to enjoy other activities (after ail, that's part of the reason I became a ruralite in the first place).

It has been almost four years since I read that article. Since that time I've learned a lot about taking care of myself, and I've learned that there are always people out there who need some help in taking care of themselves ...and, through both cash and barter, such folks provide my livelihood.

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