Last time I talked about the ways a blogger can create multiple streams of income, but I know that only helps half of you reading my blog; what about the small business owner, is there a way for you to create multiple streams, too?
Longer answer: I don’t believe you should rely solely on a single product line or service to sustain you as an entrepreneur. So many businesses have seasonal cycles of sales and revenue, it can be hard to float your business during the slow times if you’ve got all of your eggs in the same basket.
When I was a product-based entrepreneur, I dreaded the summers, especially July and August. Most people were on vacation and weren’t really interested in soap and candles. Outdoor craft shows and street fairs were miserably hot, cost a fortune collectively, and were a huge time suck for little return. Around May (Mother’s Day) is when I would start hoarding any profits I had made to help me get through til September.
If I had been smarter then, I would’ve taken that down time to start branching out and finding new ways to support myself and the business, but instead I just sort of accepted it as status quo.
Learn from my mistakes! Stop yourself from having a slow season and create another avenue for revenue.
Here are some ideas. A lot of these are going to rely heavily on the knowledge you’ve gained in your industry, which I think a lot of entrepreneurs leave untapped or are afraid to open up and reveal which is crazy to me. Your knowledge is an ASSET, leverage that shit and use it as a means of support. No one wins when they hoard knowledge!
How to Create Multiple Streams of Income:
Slow seasons in industries usually run across the board with businesses, and that’s when a lot of companies will start to create their new products for launch during the busy seasons. This could be an opportune time for you to network and create relationships that will pay off by using your expertise in a conciliatory way. No matter if your expertise is in Ruby-on-Rails or essential oils, there are companies who are looking for someone to lead them on new projects.
One thing I…okay, I wanted to say I loved to do this, but in all honesty, I had too much anxiety to enjoy, was teaching classes about soap making and essential oils at a local community center. It gave me a few hundred bucks for a couple of hours of my time, and if you’re a person who can see yourself in a hands-on teaching role, there are dozens of community centers out there who are looking for someone like you to run a class.
What did you want to learn when you started in your industry? Could you spend a few weeks knocking out a 101 guide for newbies? You can sell it on Amazon kindle or even have them create a physical copy of the book that you can utilize both as a product AND as a way to market yourself as an expert. Once it’s written, it can be as passive as you want it to be: you can spend a dedicated amount of time marketing it, or you can let it go and just let the royalties trickle in as you go.
I like courses more than teaching (weird differentiation, I know) because for the most part, I can control the presentation and can make it more passive than live teaching. Expand your 101 guide into a 6-week boot camp (you can use the course and the book to market each other). Spend a week recording the videos, upload them to something like teachable, promote it across your social channels, and let it ride.
This might not end up as paid, exactly, but can help you branch into a new demographic. Partner up with another company that has a parallel avatar to yours, but isn’t in your industry. Are you a graphic designer? Get those vectors on some candles and pillows! Soapmaker? Reach out to an influencer with a dedicated (not huge. There’s a difference!) follower base who would love to have a custom scent. Think about who your avatar is and then see if there are other touchpoints that you can access with a collaboration than if you just kept things as they were.
6. Speaking Gigs
Though I hated teaching, I do love speaking! Give me a mic, 20 minutes, and I could give you such a word vomit about value-based marketing that it would blow your mind. But it doesn’t have to be just us digital folks that take up the speaking space: my first ever speaking gig was a panel about…okay, I don’t actually remember what it was about. What I do remember is that I got to talk a LOT about my experience in craft shows and the costs associated with them, and I actually got amazing feedback from the crowd AND the company sponsoring the panel.
Think about the hardships you’ve encountered in your entrepreneur journey and then consider how you might be able to use that to tell your story to a crowd. It might not have a direct pay off in the beginning, but you’ve got to start somewhere and have the resume before you can command a price, so might as well get started when it’s slow!
7. Patreon/Enhanced Access
There’s nothing wrong asking for help, in fact, I think it humanizes a lot of businesses. Setting up a Kickstarter or Patreon account for loyal fans who want to support you during the downtimes can be a boon for your business. Keep in mind, though, that they’re going to want something in return for being a Super Supporter, so consider ways to offer enhanced value to them. It could be in ways of content like bespoke products, consultations, etc.
Creating a subscription service for your product line or service can be a great way to ensure steady income happens every month. X-of-the-month clubs are hugely popular (my interview with Jesse about creating a subscription box is clutch for this), or you can set up a retainer subscription for your services that includes, as an example, monthly testing and updating of WordPress sites. Something that won’t cost you a lot of time because of your experience, but could save someone else a lot of headaches.
If you want to really get into the Authority space, then consider making yourself available as an Industry Coach. You could set up either group or 1-on-1 sessions (or both) and can command a bigger payoff upfront than the trickle that books or courses might bring. The downside, though, is that coaching is not passive and so you’ll need to make sure you’re giving your clients the value they expected for their payments, which can be hard when your busy season picks back up.
10. Branch Out the Product Line
Lastly, start considering other ways to expand your brand by offering new products or services. Check out print-on-demand lines that can create complementary products like home goods or t-shirts and won’t cost you anything extra except marketing. Keep in mind, though, that print-on-demand usually takes longer to create than having a stocked inventory, so if you’re worried about the blowback from your customers who want Amazon-levels of shipping, then you can also look into dropshipping already-in-stock items, OR having entire new product lines custom made (then you would house the inventory and be responsible for the shipping).
Things to Consider
1. Do not look at these as helping your competitors.
That is a scarcity mindset and not one of abundance. I won’t get all woo-woo here, but suffice to say that if you’re afraid that your knowledge is too precious to share, or that you’ll saturate your marketplace with a bunch of newbies, you’re missing the mark completely and are hurting no one but yourself. The more you share, the more of an authority you’re positioned as, and the higher your profile will be raised. Do you think Tony Robbins worries that he’s creating a usurper in his Unleash the Power Within seminars? Those things cost tens of thousands of dollars to attend; Tony doesn’t care, he’s already got their money. He’s run those for 20+ years, how many other Tony Robbins-level people do you know that have taken his market share? Not enough to make him lose any sleep, I’m sure.
2. The hard truth reality is: you’ll teach more students than you’ll ever compete against
If I may keep it real here, there are those out there (sigh…myself included) who have bought books, courses, guides, etc. and have never utilized them. For every hundred people that end up learning from you, how many do you think will actually go out and try to become your competitor? How many of those competitors will actually make a dent in your market share? If I may be blunt, better you offer the knowledge and be seen as a champion of the industry, then let someone else get the glory (and money).
3. Don’t feel like you have to do all of these
A good rule of thumb is to have 3 – 5 income streams that balance your revenue, so pick one or two here that intrigued you, give them a go, and see what happens. The good part is that none of these are devastating to an already existing business: you can write an e-book and if it doesn’t sell then it’s not like it will go bad (if your content is evergreen, of course). Remember that every baby step is still a step forward and trying new opportunities to create another stream of income is rarely a bad idea.
Give it a shot, see what happens!