Events in recent history have highlighted how fragile the economy can be and how quickly things can change. One simple yet often overlooked way to improve your financial security is to diversify your income with multiple sources of revenue. The savviest entrepreneurs and business owners know that they shouldn't have all their eggs in one basket. If circumstances changed, or a crisis was to strike your industry or your business, then you can rest easier knowing you have a backup.
So, how do you go about building multiple streams of revenue? We have broken down some tips and ideas for you to add to your business plan, or take inspiration from.
Sell your knowledge as a product
Every entrepreneur has a unique collection of skills and experiences. You may not always think about it that way, but you are a specialist in something.
Think about what you’ve learned over the years. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Could you package this knowledge up into a product?
For example, let’s say you are an accountant. You could write a book on how to start your own accounting business, what worked for you and what didn’t, things you wish you had learned when you were just starting out, and so on. Do some research on current trends and see how your knowledge and experience could tie in with what your target audience is looking for. If there is a gap in the market, even better!
In this digital era, the internet is the go-to place people are turning to learn new skills. Creating an online course or training program to teach others what you know can be a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field, raise the credibility of your brand, and even reach new customers. It can be a lot of fun too! Platforms such as Skillshare are specially geared towards allowing experts to share their knowledge with the world through video-based courses, or “classes”. The benefits of using Skillshare, in particular, are that it has millions of users worldwide, which means a potentially much higher audience for your course. Teachers earn royalties based on the number of minutes your classes are watched each month, plus $10 for every student they refer to the platform and who signs up for the premium membership. It is also relatively simple to get started, there is no lengthy approval process for you to become one of its teachers, and you are provided with a host of guidance ranging from how to make your class engaging to how to boost your earnings.
See: How A Virtual Assistant Can Help You With Course Creation
Offer services as a consultant
Another option to consider is to offer your knowledge and expertise as a consultant. This can be especially lucrative if you have more rare or specialized skills that others would be interested in utilizing.
Start by identifying who your ideal customer would be and targeting them directly with marketing efforts. Be sure to let them know exactly how they could benefit from your services.
Try to think of your business holistically. If you currently offer a product, you can also consult on how best to implement the use of that product. For example, if your business designs and builds websites for other businesses, you could also offer consulting services on the optimization of that site.
The possibilities are endless, so get creative and see what you can come up with!
Listen to others
Reach out to your customers, clients, or your professional network and ask them what their most common pain points are. What do they need that they’re not currently getting? Could you create a product or service that solves this problem?
There are a number of different ways to gather this feedback, but perhaps the easiest way is through surveys. You can use tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create simple surveys and send the link out via email or social media.
If you have an active social media following, keeping an eye on customer comments and interactions on your pages is a valuable source of actionable insights for both your business and other streams of income. It’s a simple way to see what your customers want and need, and you can use this to improve your products and services as well as create new ones.
Don't forget to thank your customers for their feedback!
Draw from your own experiences
Once you've talked to your customers and your network about their pain points, assess your own. What challenges have you had to solve in your business? What products or services do you use that are expensive or outdated? What systems have you needed that you can’t currently buy?
Every business owner has to battle through a set of challenges unique to their industry, and as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Could you create a new product or service that provides a solution to these issues? Or could you develop a system that others could use to solve the same problem? If so, you may have found your next business opportunity.
Start a blog or podcast
Like creating online courses, starting your own blog or podcast is a great way to share your knowledge and experiences with the world, and it has the potential to be a very lucrative endeavor. Many bloggers and podcasters make a full-time living from their content thanks to sponsors, advertisements, and affiliate links.
If you are unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, it is the process of advertising or promoting a company’s products or services and earning a commission every time a sale is made through your custom affiliate link. Whether as an individual or for your business, affiliate marketing can be a great way to generate passive income. You can work with individual companies or larger dedicated affiliate networks, and once you’re registered and approved, you can promote your affiliate links through your website, email newsletters, social media, or anywhere else can post links. It sounds obvious, but the more clicks and sales through your links, the higher your commission revenue, so consider which products and services would appeal to your customers or audience base the most when you are making your choices.
(You can join Time etc's affiliate program here!)
If all else fails, property is a solid option for an additional stream of income.
Renting out a room in your house is a good option for homeowners who want to start small or test the waters. On websites like SpareRoom, not only can you advertise your room quickly and easily, but you can also search your local area and see a list of all the people that are currently searching for a room through their site. You can read their bio summary and reach out to them directly if they are suitable, saving you a lot of time. Sites like Airbnb may be preferable if you want to offer more short-term lets, such as weekends or holidays, and you also have the option of viewing your potential lodgers’ ratings from previous hosts.
Letting a full property will involve a considerable initial investment in most cases, but buying residential or commercial property to let out can provide you with significant revenue on a long-term basis.
As you can see, building multiple income streams is more straightforward than you may have thought. All it needs is a bit of strategic thinking and the effort to put your plans into practice, because remember, even the greatest ideas in the world won't make any money if they stay just as ideas. Don't give up if things don't go as planned at first, it may take some trial and error before you find what works. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your empire of income streams be, but your perseverance will eventually lead you to success.