Hey Guys! Today I have a really interesting and great interview with Leah from Leah Lynch and Busy Gals Homestead. For the last few years, Leah has been working as a rabbit breeder and has been able to make a full-time income. In fact, she was able to pay off her college loans with this amazing hustle!
So definitely check out this interview and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments down below!
1. How did you first find out about breeding rabbits and what made you want to choose this side hustle?
Believe it or not I was extremely young (about 4-5 years old) when my parents bought me my first rabbit. It might seem too young for some but I was always ahead of kids my age when it came to maturity. At the age of 10 I acquired my first heard of Jersey Wooly rabbits which were perfect for my age and size at the time. I had them for quite a few years and I learnt as much as I could about them and poured through every book at the local library. Learning about care, showing, and even learning how to use herb and other natural medicines with them. I even learned to build my own website and figured everything out as I went along. Posting on local bulletin boards and doing the best with what I knew. I sold a few rabbits hear and their but nothing to the level I do today.
As I transitioned into my middle teen years I out grew the breed but was not sure what was next. So I sold the heard and all the equipment thinking I was done in the rabbit world. That did not last long because less than a year later I had found an amazing breeder who go me starting in my current rabbit habit.
2. What first got you interested in finding a side hustle? Give us some background on how you got started.
I bought my first three French lop rabbits at that age of 17; I can’t tell you how I found out about the breed but I found the breeder that got me started on Craig’s list. After meeting with her and seeing the breed, I was in love. They were big, beautiful, and sweet animals. I am a very planned and determined person so I jumped back in to learning mode and worked to start improving on the breed and building a name as a breeder. I first realized I had something that could really work as a business because after about 8 months into having them, I was already building a wait list for further litters. I had a very popular yet hard to find breed. I was getting emails from people on my website and people I would meet at shows wanting rabbits and I was getting enough people that I was full up to a year out.
3. What were some of your first steps in getting started?
First I would have to say it was my love for what I was doing. I was so driven and loved it so much it didn’t seem like work. The saying of find a work you love and you will never work a day in your life is so true. For anyone wanting to work for themselves I would tell you to love what you do. Because if you don’t, it will be a work from home job that you hate.
Secondly I was very careful with the numbers. It is not uncommon for people in the rabbit showing world to end up with literally hundreds of rabbits. I started slowly and found that number of breeding animals I could keep with each level of sales I was at so I was not literally getting eaten out of profits.
Lastly I was keeping a website updated and also using social media to create visibility in what I was doing. That is definably something that a lot of breeders don’t do. It is getting better now but many people pushed back at the idea of selling online which hurt them in many ways.
4. What did your family think when they first found out that you wanted to breed animals?
I have an animal loving family but they had never had any animals for production until I started it. If they thought I would not stick with it then I don’t think they would have supported me. However, they knew I was naturally determined and knew I would make it work.
Once they saw how many people where coming to the house to pick up their rabbits they started joking that this would one day be my college fund. I know they did not think it would become what it is today. My dad still asks how it is going even though I am married and in my own home which I love telling him about.
5. How were you able to find your first customers?
I never like to say it was an accident but my first few came from posting on craigslist and creating my own (free at that time) website. One thing that helped me create a constant stream of income is creating the waiting list. I learnt very quickly that you do not rely on the buyer to call you back because life gets busy and they forget or find someone else to buy from. When someone knows they are on a waiting list they are far more likely to hold off buying from someones else and I now have their information to contact them. If it has been some time since they got on my list I send out “check in” emails to make sure they are still interested to keep us top of memory and also give updates with new litters and upcoming breeding’s which builds excitement.
6. How long was it until you started to see some of your first profits?
I would say it took about a year before I started to see what this could really become.
7. What were some of your biggest challenges when you first started?
On the animal side of things: When working with any animals, there are things you can’t control so being prepared that not all litters make it and learning to deal with loss is not fun when first getting started. With many things, there are people who think it is their way or the highway and learning to not let “trolls” as we call them in the online space ruin your day and make you question why you are in that business.
On the business side: It is easier now but being so young people often overlook you thinking you’re too young and you don’t know what you are talking about. At the age of 25 I had 15 years of experience raising my own animals and 8 years running a successful business. You have to know what you want and be willing to work for it no matter what other people say to you or about you.
8. What was one of your biggest mistakes when starting this business, and how can others avoid it?
I am a naturally introverted person so I was always worried about what others thought of me. That caused me to find spots in the corner of the show room or never go up to anyone and talk to others. We often forget that people in any business love to talk about it. They want to help others looking to get started. I could have gotten much farther along if I was willing to step out of my comfort zone.
Don’t hide in the background. Be visible and talk to others and in the online space, don’t be afraid to private message someone. The worst they can do is not answer it. Your website does not have to be perfect and people do not expect you to have all the answers.
9. I heard that you were able to graduate debt free from college because of this business. What are you able to do now, that you couldn’t if you had student loan payments?
Oh my goodness where do I start.
The emotional peace that I have of not owing anyone for anything is amazing. I see the stress that it brings on our friends who are still paying down loans 5-10 years after they are out of school.
The fact that I did not bring thousands of dollars of debt into the marriage helped us because we got to buy our own home and were able to make the improvements that we wanted as well as enjoy life and not have these huge payments that I would otherwise have to make.
10. How many hours a week did you devote to this side hustle while you were in college?
The business was already running pretty well before I started college but to just keep things running, I only had to put 3-5hrs per week into keeping the word out and listing what we had available and emailing potential buyers.
11. How long did it take until this business became full-time?
I would say the third year was when it really started doing extremely well and would be considered full time.
When you are naturally driven with the entrepreneurial mindset you are always thinking of what you can do next. So once I was done with school and the rabbitry was still running well, I started looking for the next challenge. So in came business #2 where I started a blog and coaching others on how they can generate income doing what they love.
12. What does your daily routine look like now that you work for yourself?
On a normal day, we are up and active by 5:30am and I use this time to do my morning devotions, pick up around the house and plan out the day. Oh, and let’s not forget the coffee! I write out the top 3-5 tasks that I want to complete that day.
I do this for many reasons but the two main reasons that others can learn form as well. We can plan our days down to the second but life does not always go as planned. So when we get thrown off track and we have that place we can go to see what we are supposed to be doing, we are able to use the time we have left to at least get something done and not just give up on the day.
Second, when running a business there is always something more you can do. When you have that list of things that you can look back on to see what you did accomplish you can have some “me time” or go spend time with your family and not feel like you should be working on your business. We all need that recreational time and it starts with clearing your mind and giving yourself permission to take a break.
Once it is day light out, I go out and do the morning feeding.
I come back for my own personal morning care. By about 9 am I start on my business tasks. Every week day looks different from the next as far as tasks in the business. However, every day is very calculated and planned out to the minute which is crucial to getting so much done.
Typically I start out with any writing that needs to be done (such as emails, newsletters, blog posts etc.) or imagery that needs to be created. I avoid social media till at least 12pm. Then the last half of my work day is spent working in social media, brain storming ideas, and brain bumping any ideas or tasks that are on my mind for the next day so I can have a relaxing evening with my husband.
I am always sure to wrap up by 5:30 when my husband comes home from work. That is not to say I don’t do a quick task for business while he is busy doing something I can’t help him with but I am carful to never let my businesses take over family time.
14. What’s your best tip for where to start? What advice do you wish someone had given you when you knew to finding a side hustle and starting your rabbit breeding business?
Getting people to know about your business is key. There are many different ways to go about getting visibility but keep in mind that until you build a name for yourself, people are not going to come to you for an article because they don’t know about you. Getting your name in articles and being a guest on podcasts is something you have to ask for.
Also, when first starting out it is easy to start looking side to side and see others that “seem” more successful then you. We start to doubt ourselves and wonder if we should keep going and some give up. We don’t see the struggles and self-doubt that others have as well. Keep your eyes on the goals ahead of you and don’t compare yourself to others. There is plenty of room in the world of entrepreneurship for everyone.
15. And lastly, did you have any mentors or heroes that inspired you when you first started?
Not any one person but a story I had heard of someone who had brought in income with something they created all on their own encouraged me to keep going.