Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in agriculture but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Deborah Niemann, Founder of Thrifty Homesteader, located in Cornell, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Thrifty Homesteader educates people about homesteading in general and, more specifically, about raising goats and chickens, as well as gardening. We do this through 600 articles on our website, books, online courses, videos on YouTube, and a podcast called For the Love of Goats. The majority of our customers and followers are people who are interested in goats, but we also have a lot of others who are interested in other aspects of homesteading.

Tell us about yourself

I accidentally became a goat expert. We moved to the country in 2002 to start growing our own food organically. We planted a garden and fruit trees and bought all the livestock – cows, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and even guineas. The poultry was quite easy, but the goats weren't getting pregnant, and several died. Vets couldn't help, so I dove into the research, and by the time I had learned enough to help my own goats, I also had enough information to write a 300-page book. I've now had six books published, including three specifically about goats.

Do you have daily rituals for work / wellness / fitness / mindfulness?

I do yoga every morning, and I take a meditation break every afternoon for about 15 to 20 minutes. If I had less than seven hours of sleep the night before, I lay down to meditate and set the timer on my watch for 30 minutes in case I fell asleep. Both meditation and naps are good for you, but a nap longer than about 20 minutes leaves you feeling more drowsy than refreshed, and because I usually don't fall asleep any faster than 10-15 minutes (if at all), I set my timer for 30 minutes, which is perfect for that short nap that experts recommend. Even if I don't fall asleep, the meditation leaves me feeling refreshed.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

There is a ton of misinformation online about goats because there was very little research done on them until the last 20 years. Unfortunately, nothing online ever dies, so a lot of that old info is still out there. The biggest frustration for a lot of people who find me is that they have found so many conflicting bits of information. When I start talking about the current research and the WHY behind WHAT you need to do, the light bulb goes on, and people understand. Being able to help people who had goats dying from parasites or nutritional deficiencies is very rewarding.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

When you get started, you have to know how to do all the things -- and you have to do them. That means you have to be really good at time management. With all of the books and workshops on time management, you wouldn't think that it would be that hard, but it really is. If you don't manage your time well, you will get to the end of every day and realize that you didn't get any of the important things done.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't hire for something that you know nothing about, such as social media, because if you don't know how to do it, then you won't know if the person you hire is doing a good job or not. I know people who have wasted thousands of dollars to have someone do social media that gave them zero ROI because the person wasn't doing a good job.
  2. Start an email list on day one. If I could turn back time and change anything, I would start an email list years earlier. There is a saying that the money is on your list, and I absolutely agree. Almost all of my sales are to people on my email list. You are on social media mostly to get people on your list.
  3. Learn about SEO and incorporate it into your website from day one. I would be much more successful by now if I had started an email list and optimized my website for SEO starting from the beginning.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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