Should You Start a History Biz?

Have you ever thought about being your own boss? Maybe you've explored ideas for home-based businesses or wondered how much extra money you could make from a part time project of some sort. You’re not alone.


Entrepreneurship is so trendy it has its own lingo. There are side hustles, passive income streams and location independent gigs. Microbusinesses are run by sidepreneurs, digital nomads, bootstrappers and solopreneurs with virtual assistants. Senior citizens are even getting in on the act. They are known as boomerpreneurs.   

If you’re a history geek, it's never been easier to start a business that allows you to indulge your passion. You can portray a historic character, become a freelance guide or develop your own tours and events. Demonstrate traditional woodworking techniques, give a talk on the secret history of undergarments, host an event on Victorian cocktails or show others how to grow heirloom roses. There are lots of possibilities.

Maybe it's time to set up your own History Biz. Here are 7 reasons to give the option serious consideration.

Because you can. Entry barriers are low and the risk is minimal. You don’t need a physical location, employees, an elaborate business plan or tons of cash. If things don’t work out or you discover you don’t enjoy being an entrepreneur, getting out is just as easy as getting in.  

To earn extra money. The amount of money you make will depend on how often you work, what type of programs you offer and how much you charge. If you produce one event a year, charge $10 per person and cap attendance at 20 participants, you will make less than your counterpart across town who offers a neighborhood walking tour every Saturday from June through October, charges $20 per person and attracts a total of 500 people.   


Because you can keep your “real” job. If you work standard business hours Monday through Friday, that’s great. Offer your history programs on evenings and weekends. That’s when the majority of your potential customers will be free and your history side hustle won’t interfere with your regular job at all.  

For a creative outlet. Even if you like your current job, it probably gets old from time to time. Most people enjoy the brainstorming and planning phases of starting a business. Approach the process as an experiment and an opportunity to innovate. 

Because you can wear a costume. Your History Biz can provide the fun that’s missing in your regular job. If you become a freelance tour guide or decide to portray a historic character you’ll have the perfect excuse to don your Civil War uniform or hit the vintage clothing shops in search of Jazz Age flapper dresses. By the way, the cost of those dresses may be a business expense.

To diversify your skill set. If you’re very good at your day job, you’re probably on autopilot much of the time. Starting and running a small business will challenge you. You’ll learn about marketing, social media, website design, accounting and copywriting. You may also dive into event planning, tour design and public speaking, just to name a few.

To build connections. As a microbusiness owner, you’ll come into contact with people you don’t normally encounter in your regular job. Not only will this expand your social network, it may lead to interesting collaboration and job opportunities down the road.

Because there’s a need. Local historical societies tend to be run by elderly volunteers. Their websites haven't been updated in years, decades in some cases. They’re  resistant to social media and are not offering programs that appeal to the public. You can fill the gap. Tell your town’s or neighborhood’s story. from a different perspective. Create a fresh, new tour or event. Put up a local history Facebook page. Start a blog. Make it cool. Make it fun. Keep it interesting and lively. Engage with a new audience and reap the rewards.

If the entrepreneurial path sounds like something you’d like to explore, don’t wait for permission or a formal invitation from the powers that be. Choose yourself.