In my previous essay I discussed the wisdom of developing a part-time home business as a financial safety cushion in the event of job loss. And the business can serve as a source of retirement income too.
Though I already happen to have an established part-time business (Whizbang Books) and it would help my family financially in the event of losing my job, I'd still have to find another job, or come up with another home business to help pay the bills.
My personal inclination would be to not find a job working for someone else as an employee. I would, instead, look to create my own opportunity with a relatively inexpensive-to-start business of my own.
Before I launch into the business idea that is the focus of this blog, I should point out that, were I to lose my job, I’m in a better position to get by than many others in this country. That isn’t to say that I have a lot of money squirreled away, because I sure don’t. There is, thank God, a small cushion of savings, but much more importantly I live simply and have relatively few expenses. My home is small and rural and paid for (though not completely finished). I have no credit card debt. I heat my home with a basic wood stove in the living room. We grow much of our own food and keep the larder stocked. Such things are essential aspects of our agrarian-based lifestyle (Read my essay titled An Agrarian-Style Economic Self Defense Plan for more talk along these lines).
I should also point out that if I were an engineer, or business management professional, or health care professional, or some other such well-educated professional, and I lost my job, I probably would look for a higher-paying job working for someone else. I might start looking for new employment opportunities in the newspaper or on the internet. I would spiff up my resume and start circulating it. But in my situation, I have no college degree. I barely have a few college credits. I am a lower-class person. So I tend to think in lower class ways about work, and home business ideas, as you will shortly see.
What I have going for me is that I am fairly skilled with my hands when it comes to home construction and repair. I worked in the building trades for more than 20 years, ten of which I was a self-employed remodeling contractor.
But at 50 years old, I would not become a contractor again. Been there. Done that. And I got the gray hairs to prove it. Besides, I would have to buy a truck, and some equipment that I no longer have, and deal with building code regulations (which irk me). So I would keep it simple and focus on a very specific home repair that there is a great demand for.
It has been my observation, from my lower-class perspective, that the best opportunities are in the most disagreeable jobs. That said, I would focus my small home repair business on flush toilets. That’s right, I would be a toilet repair professional.
Now, you may chuckle to yourself at the idea of being a toilet repair professional, but I’m serious about this. I happen to know for a fact that there is big demand for toilet professionals.
Many years ago, when I had a job working for a local remodeling contractor, I had this idea of fixing toilets as a part-time business, and I actually carried through with it. I placed an ad in the local Pennysaver newspaper. When the ad came out, my phone started to ring. I got far more calls than I ever expected. It so happened that a lot of people hereabouts had toilet problems. I was off and running, fixing toilets after work and on Saturdays.
You’re probably wondering why I’m still not in the toilet repair business. Well, I had a bad experience. I got a call from one of the churches in my area to fix their toilet. I installed a new flush/fill valve and the problem was solved. I was in and out in an hour. It was easy money.
But the following Monday I got a call from a man at the church. He informed me that they had to cancel church on Sunday because the well had run dry. I turns out that I had inadvertently installed the new valve such that, when I put the lid on the toilet tank, the valve got stuck and it remained open for a few days. The entire contents of the church’s well went down the drain and there was no water on Sunday.
The man was a friend and there was no problem. He simply readjusted the valve so it moved freely and the well recharged itself. No harm was done (fortunately the well pump did not burn out) other than church was canceled. Nevertheless, I felt badly and decided I had enough of toilet repair. I really had too much going otherwise.
Nevertheless, that experience convinced me that there is an untapped world of opportunity in toilet repair, and the idea of going into the business comes to the forefront of my mind often when I consider a job change.
I even have a name picked out for the business: “Dr. John’s Toilet Repair & Replacement.” My business card and advertising will have a side view of a toilet on it. Perhaps it would also have a cartoon likeness of me in a lab coat with a wrench in one hand and a stethoscope in the other, taking the heartbeat of a sad-looking toilet. That’s a name and a visual that people can remember.
I imagine that I would get all kinds of calls form frustrated homeowners with toilet woes. For example, the common complaint of poor flushing action.... I would listen intently and say with knowing confidence: “It sounds like a case of the laaaazy flush, Ma’am.” Then, after a brief phone consultation, I would probably be able to better pinpoint the diagnosis" “Yep, I’ll bet those rim jets are obstructed. Happens all the time.” And, of course, I would present the cure: “I can flush the system with muriatic acid, but you might want to just replace the whole unit.”
Toilet repair and replacement would also include the repair of rotted floors around the toilet, which is something I’ve done many times over the years. And I would do faucet and sink repairs, as well as other basic plumbing fixes. Around here you can repair and replace plumbing without any special license or permits.
Another evidence of the need for such a service is a guy I used to work with who had an after-work business fixing faucets for people. He ran a weekly ad and called himself “The Faucet Fixer.” This fellow was my inspiration to do toilet repair on the side. He was busy all the time fixing and replacing people’s faucets and drains. He eventually got more schooling and went full-time into the wider world of hydronic heating and professional plumbing.
In my overactive, Walter Mitty-like imagination, I have envisioned a “Dr. John" franchise, where I would teach other aspiring toilet repair professionals all across America how to troubleshoot toilets and do other basic plumbing repairs, with confidence.
Until then, if you are intrigued by this little-considered but amazingly good small business idea, you can take the bull by the horns and educate yourself at Toiletology 101 (a truly fascinating web site!).
In my next essay here I will share with you another small-scale moneymaking idea that maybe, just maybe, will inspire and encourage you.
This essay is part of a series on home business ideas. CLICK HERE to go to an index of all essays in the series.
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