Off-Farm Income


Our guest today, Trevor Campbell, has a talent for working with small engines.  He is a genuinely nice person and very easy to talk to, and he has a great work ethic.  So, when he tells the story of developing his small engine repair business it is easy to let his personal attributes hide what is really important in this story - the simple manner in which he started what could be a lifelong business.

Prior to high school, Trevor enjoyed working on small engines with his father in their garage.  This free time activity was enjoyable enough that when Trevor was in his 8th-grade year of school he decided to take on his very own project.  Driving down the road one day Trevor saw an old, push lawnmower sitting on the side of the road adorned by a sign that simply said "Free".  Trevor saw a challenge and wanted to test himself.  He got permission, and help, and picked up the lawnmower, returning it to his house.

Over the next month or so Trevor worked on this mower and ended up rebuilding most of the engine.  He got it running and into good condition, and he had proven to himself that he could do it.  At that point, not knowing what to do with the mower now, he put it on Facebook Marketplace for sale.  A few days later the mower was gone and he had $50 in his pocket.

A light went on in Trevor's head.  If he could find an old mower that somebody just wanted to give away and turn that into $50 once, could he do it again and again and again?  Over the past four years, Trevor has done exactly that.  He purchases or just obtains old mowers, pressure washers, generators, etc. from people who don't know how to fix them and just want them out of their garages.  Then he fixes them, restores their value, and sells them at a profit.

The restoration and sale of equipment with small engines are the core of Trevor's business, but today it has morphed.  Now, Trevor, has people bring him their small equipment in the spring to get it ready for the season.  He has a garage full of other people's equipment that he services, fixes, and preps for the spring and summer months.  In the fall, he does some winterization of other people's equipment.  And, he has started his own lawn mowing company with very inexpensive and sometimes free equipment that he has the expertise to fix.

Small engine repair and landscaping businesses are two of the most viable ideas that FFA students create in high school with the potential for becoming lifelong businesses.  And both of these businesses have the potential to grow and expand exponentially.  A landscaping business can grow a significant client list, employ dozens to hundreds of employees, and eventually expand into many different areas related to the original idea of lawn mowing and beautification.  The sky really is the limit.  Small engine repair has this same potential, expanding all the way to having an equipment dealership.

The gold nugget hidden in this interview is just how simple and easy it was for Trevor to start this business.  It did not take venture capital.  It did not take a loan from the bank.  It simply took natural curiosity, a skill that had been developed at home, and the willingness to start.

Whether or not Trevor follows the path I have laid out is not the point of sharing this story with you.  You, the listeners of the Off-Farm Income Podcast are here because you are looking for a different and better lifestyle.  I am suggesting to you that entrepreneurship is likely the missing piece to the puzzle that can unlock that lifestyle for you.  The biggest obstacle to any person starting their own business is within their own mind.  It is fear, imposter syndrome, and overcomplicating the process among other things.

Let Trevor be your inspiration.  Start small, doing something that interests you.  Test the market to see if there is any value in it.  If there is value, replicate what you have done already to start growing revenue.  Then figure out how to replicate the service or product at a scale large enough to enable you to become self-employed!