Is There Income After Peak Oil And Economic Collapse? There Is If You're Clever.
Many predict that the world will soon experience an economic depression, brought on by a variety of factors, but most particularly Peak Oil - the lessening production of petroleum. (For full information on Peak Oil, see Dry Dipstick - www.drydipstick.com)
No matter what happens to the economy, you'll probably still need income. Work continues even in hard times. Sadly, and ironically, at a time when so much more needs to be done, it gets harder and harder for people to actually find jobs.
We can guess what type of jobs might disappear first as a result of decreasing oil supplies and economic collapse--such as housing construction, highway construction, just about any kind of construction for that matter, credit cards, banking, stocks and bonds, overnight tourism (daytrip may do okay), airlines (but bus and maybe even railroads may do well), the automobile industry and all its related businesses, hotels and motels, drive-through fast-food, car washes, chain stores dependent on cheap goods from China, and so on--but it's probably more useful to try and predict what type of jobs and skills will be most needed.
We assume they will involve basic needs--food, water, health, and the like. There will probably be much more focus on repairing items than replacing them, so cottage industries like small appliance repair and clothing repair could do well. Escapist entertainment and fads were thriving during the Great Depression of the 1930s and there's no reason to believe similar, low-cost businesses might not do equally well now.
But you shouldn't count on someone hiring you. Plan now to work for yourself, providing goods and services to people who need them.
We can't make any guarantees, but the following ideas are good possibilities. And they should get you thinking in the right direction about other likely businesses.
When people don't have money, they do barter. They've always got stuff--and skills--that they can exchange. Set up a barter network, help others do it, and take a small cut of the action.
Beer and Wine Making
No matter how hard times get, people will still want beer and wine. If you can turn the stuff out at home, you've got an endless supply of barter material.
Bicycle Sales / Repairs
The first thing you should do right now is run out and buy as many used bicycles as you can. Used bike sales and repairs should do very well. You could even add motorcycles and scooters, because of the good gas mileage they get.
While this is no time to be in the new car sales business, car repair should be fine as people try to keep their existing vehicles running as long as they can--and as long as they can afford the gas. Consider basic car repair/maintenance where you go to the customer's home to do the service. You might even have luck with ongoing maintenance contracts. You could also give car repair classes.
Even in hard times--actually particularly in hard times--people will want to spoil themselves now and then. But the luxury has to be cheap. It might be a special chocolate chip cookie, or delicious homemade candy. Or maybe it's very special handmade giftwrapping paper. Or fragrant handmade soap or a hand-carved wooden toy.
Computer repair and maintenance should do exceptionally well. People will no longer be running out to buy the latest upgrade (computer, monitor, printer, etc.) but will be more interested in keeping what they have working properly.
It makes much more sense to pay a slight fee to have a store deliver a purchase to you than to get in your car and make a round trip to do it yourself. Smart store owners will offer free delivery in order to attract customers. (On a larger scale, companies like UPS and FedEx should do well.)
People want to be entertained, particularly when times are tough. Consider bringing together talented people to offer live entertainment in neighborhood or community locations. You probably won't get rich but you'll have a good time, and you and the entertainers will end up with more money than when you started.
On a more personal level than a delivery service, errand services can combine your needs with similar needs of others, to provide services cheaper than you could do them yourself. This might be pickup and delivery, but could also include banking, taking children to after-school classes and sports or pets to the veterinarian, and a variety of other activities.
It would be nice to invent, and get rich off, the next fad. But you can also stay in touch with the culture, and offer low-cost ways for your community to enjoy those fads.
You don't have to have a huge farm to have a healthy farming business. An acre of land and a lot of hard work will produce what you need for a small-scale business. Consider also specialty items such as mushrooms, herbs, or sprouts. Because of the many uses of hemp, that will be a great crop once it's legal--or at least possible without enforcement--to grow.
You can grow, or forage for, herbs and use them to make healing concoctions, syrups, salves, teas, and a variety of other healthy items. You could also use flowers for Aromatherapy.
People will have to do what they can to keep everything in their home in working order. If you have carpentry, plumbing, electrical and a wide variety of other relevant skills, you can be a big help to those people. You might even have success at teaching these skills to others.
You name it, someone will be interested in it. Whether it's using tools, playing music, sewing or storytelling. The lessons likely to do best will be those focused on basic essentials, saving money and protecting health, such as gardening, food canning, inexpensive home cooking, yoga and other health exercises, meditation and relaxation, herb foraging and use, and pet care.
Instructional Video Library
Considering setting up an instructional video library; videos and DVDs that teach people various skills, whether they're home or car repair, sewing, musical, language or any of hundreds of other subjects.
Raising Chickens and Rabbits
Lots of people might start their own gardens, but very few will raise their own meat. You can take advantage of that by raising chickens and rabbits-and other critters if you've got room.
Libraries aren't just for videos and books. Consider offering specialty kitchenware, car and woodworking tools, games, toys, household repair tools, gardening equipment and literally anything else you can think of.
Seamstress / Tailor / Clothing Alterations
In hard times, people can't afford to simply buy new clothes to replace slightly worn clothing. Darning socks will be back again. Sewing and knitting skills are no longer common, nor are sewing machines. Anyone with these skills will be much in demand.
Small Appliance / Electronics Repair
Till now it's been cheaper to throw away a broken radio, telephone, blender, microwave, coffee maker and similar appliances than to have it repaired. That time is over. With the end of cheap imports, and loss of income, people will no longer be able to afford new items. They will either have to do without, or find someone with the skills to fix them.
Everybody needs soap. While there might not be a time when you can't find soap to buy, you'll save money, have some fun, and end up with an excellent barter item by making your own soap. Here are some more recipes. While you're at it, here are some skin care recipes.
Toys and Games
There was a time when toys were not mass-produced plastic things. They were carefully crafted from wood, cloth and other natural materials, were treasured by the children who received them, and were passed down from generation to generation. Create some yourself, and you'll have customers.
About the Author: Mick Winter is the founder of Beyond Peak (http://www.beyondpeak.com) - A guide to self-sufficiency and living sustainably with Peak Oil and economic collapse. He has been a freelance writer for more than 35 years, and a writer/publisher on the Web since it began.