I’ve noticed an increase in interest around the topic of tiny house business opportunities. Things seemed to get jump started sometime after July 17, 2010 when Jay Shafer’s story was featured on the Yahoo homepage. The media seemed to really like the idea that tiny houses were thriving while McMansions continued to suffer. Variations on that theme were retold by many mainstream media channels for months following that initial story.
From what I hear from the larger community tiny house businesses are doing well, but not in the areas you might expect.
What People Want
The order of this list is based on my general impressions of our micro-segment.
- Books – Books seem to be the biggest money maker.
- Plans – House plans help folks visualize how to build a house.
- Free information – Blogs, and social media in general, is a wonderful way to help people connect and build communities. Blogs are commonly monetized through advertising and revenue increases with popularity.
- Workshops – Hands-on workshops are a great way to get a crash course in building and design.
- Finished Homes – Professionally finished turn-key homes.
How Tiny Houses Boom
I imagine the journalists reporting that tiny houses were growing in popularity compared to McMansions were assuming that tiny house sales were booming, but I don’t think that’s true. The sales of physical tiny houses actually seems to be soft compared to the sales of how-to information.
This makes perfect sense to me because tiny houses perfectly illustrate how living with less can buy back some of the freedoms lost by living in debt. So they naturally attract large numbers of hopeful do-it-yourselfers and people looking for a better way to live.
I suspect there are several business niches that have not been fully explored yet. Here are some ideas that may have potential.
- How to DVDs – I’ve not seen any high quality tiny house construction DVDs, and I suspect this would be a very popular item.
- Empty Shells – Imagine an empty tiny house with a ‘closet’ at one end; a closet big enough to be turned into a small bathroom. This simple shell could function as a home office/studio or be converted into a living space. Empty shells might appeal to do-it-yourselfers as well as those needing an extra room.
- Rentals – This might be a bit tricky legally speaking… but it might be a shoe-in for campground owners looking to expand their offerings.
- Cottage Industry – Some small businesses might find a tiny house an ideal place to do business.
Peering into the Future
It’s hard to say where tiny houses will go in the next few years; after all nobody can predict the future. But we all notice trends and can learn lessons from observing the results of cause and effect – so I’ll take a stab at peering into the future.
The future of abundant energy supplies seems to be the question on everyone’s mind – even if they’re not talking about it yet. I suspect this is due to the the uncertainty we all feel about the topic.
But I think there are some things we can be certain about. If we do begin to run out of gas we’re going to need to learn to live differently and our homes will need to change.
So from a business perspective I’d have to assume that anything that empowers people to live more sustainably will have a real future. How the economics will all work out in the end is anyone’s guess; but things that provide true value, like food and shelter, will continue to be in demand. Things with market-determined values will continue to be a gamble.
Just food for thought, and not investment advice 🙂