3 Small Business Thought Starters To Create New Streams of Income

By on December 17, 2014
3 Small Business Thought Starters To Create New Streams of Income

Just because your small business is doing well or has a solid income producing a product or service doesn’t mean you should rest comfortably on your laurels. Diversifying your income streams can help your small business to weather cyclical downturns in the economy, seasonal slow periods or even help to tackle unexpected large expenses that you can’t anticipate. No matter what your business type, there is something else you could be doing to generate income from your knowledge and expertise. It’s a great way to leverage what you already know and are doing to produce another revenue avenue for your business and to boost profitability.

1. Online? Get off. Offline? Get on.

If your business is primarily offline, you should be looking at how to get online for more revenue.

If your business is primarily online, you should be investigating offline options to boost your bottom line.

Let’s look first at ways you can get your offline business, online. Just because you’re a brick and mortar location doesn’t mean you can neglect your online presence. The very first step you can take to increase your business is to get a well designed and well functioning website. Say for instance you own a chiropractic business. What are you saying online that will help get your clients into your practice? Think about ways your website can add a supplemental stream of clients into your doors. Some things to consider:

  • Can clients book an appointment with you through an online calendar booking system?

  • Can clients pay your invoices or pay up front via a credit card?

  • Are you explaining what to expect on their first visit?

  • Does your website provide them with answers to frequently asked questions?

While this may not be a specific external source of revenue, it will help to drive more feet through your door. You should also look at review sites like Yelp and encourage patients to give you a review and recommendation. You should also consider listing yourself in any relevant industry online guides or lists. Are you listed with your local SBA? Is that relevant in your community? Where can you get your company name to add to your online presence, which increasingly individuals turn to in order to vet their choices before visiting a retail location.

There are also ways you can transform your knowledge and expertise into a product for sale on your website. We’ll use the chiropractor example again in part two on how to create an e-book or product to sell online that relates to your business.

So what if you’re already an online business and you don’t have a physical office location for people to come and visit. For an offline example let’s say you’re a freelance IT professional and you and your staff mostly go to your client’s business locations to provide IT help and services. Most of your bookings are done over the phone or online through your website, so how do you get more of a physical presence to generate revenue? Isn’t the whole point of your offline business that you have low overhead from not having a big office location for people to come to or storefront to lease? Of course! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t revenue options in the “physical” work that can really boost your online business.

Take for example a workshop. Are there aspects of your business that you could scale down into a teachable workshop that people would pay money to attend? Again if you’re the IT shop, could you offer a once a month or four-part series workshop through your local community center to teach people how to make some simple IT repairs themselves? Or if you’re a mechanics shop, could you teach a one-hour workshop on how to change your own oil and market that? These are simple events that would only take a little time to organize and market, but could make you a nice chunk of supplemental income on a monthly basis if you do them properly. Think about potential workshops you could teach, timing and cost and then get out into the physical world and teach them.

2. E-book or Guide

A great way to boost your bottom line is to offer a definitive e-book or guide through your website about some aspect of your business people are curious about or ask about often. What questions you’re being asked the most are the e-book options you will have the most success with selling. This process is fairly simple: it just requires some hard work up front but then becomes an automated passive income stream for your business.

a) Establish your topic

Let’s go back to the chiropractor example. People are coming to you to alleviate some kind of pain and restore the full motion and health of their body. Often chiropractors seem to deal with insurance claims of whiplash victims from car crashes. Could you write a definitive guide on the step-by-step process of recovering from a whiplash injury, or a sports related injury, through not just chiropractic care but also their own diet, exercise and physical recovery? What about a guide about the proper daily stretching clients can do to help cure their aches and pains themselves? Write about whatever you know and are qualified to speak about, but you might be surprised how much the ideas start flowing for topics.

b) Write your guide

This is going to be the hardest part. You have to sit down and actually write your guide. An unwritten guide isn’t making your small business any supplemental income so get to work! If you need help, hire a writing coach or even hire a professional writer to at least help you organize and frame your thoughts. Professional writers are pretty easy to find through sites like elance.com and also through Craigslist ads. Ask for samples of previous work and recommendations before hiring anyone and make sure to get a clearly written contract with the expectations of the work.

c) Edit your guide

If you write the guide yourself, you should pay someone to edit it. Editing is a huge time suck and a pain and a good editor is going to help you not just with grammar and spelling corrections, but will also help you with how to change any structural issues or clarify any points of confusion. An editor isn’t a writer, so don’t expect them to write your changes – only to suggest and guide as well as provide their feedback on the technical aspects of your guide.

d) Set up a sales funnel

This is where having an online presence is so important. Offer your e-book for sale through your website. Offer it as an online product and build out an automated sales funnel so that once its set up, the process is fully automated and the sale happens without any help or input from you. This is why and how this becomes a truly passive income stream. That process might look like this:

1. Set up your e-book as a pdf downloadable product through your online shopping cart.

2. Build out a landing page to push your advertising to that explains the e-book and why it’s so important. You can also link to this landing page through any press, blog posts, your own website, articles or any other online editorial type content you write. The goal is to get as many eyes on the landing page to make your sales funnel broad.

3. When someone clicks on the “Buy Now” button on your landing page or website, they go to your online shopping cart where they fill in their information and complete the purchase.

4. Once the transaction is complete and approved, your online shopping cart system automatically emails them the electronic pdf of the book and they have their product.

e) Enjoy passive income streams

The process is passive once it’s set up, meaning everything it takes to process an order and deliver your product to your client are automated.

3. Speaking or Consulting

Many small business owners underestimate the value of the tacit knowledge they hold. What do you know about your particular industry, niche or business that you could share with others as a consultant or for a paid-speaking opportunity?

The consulting part of this equation is pretty simple. The more established you are in your business, the better able you are to share your advice, experience and expertise with younger companies looking to scale and grow, or looking to solve specific problems related to their business. You can help by offering consulting for a fee to train and coach other businesses toward success.

Speaking may not seem like a direct way to earn supplemental income but it can be a great opportunity for a variety of reasons. First, if you speak you establish yourself as the expert on the topic of your business and industry. That builds trust with your audience and is a great way to build your reputation. That will indirectly result in more clients and customers in the long run. Secondly, as you develop your speaking skills many places pay for great speakers. The speaking fees your receive up front might be small, but if you keep consistent at it you’ll continue to improve and could earn greater fees. Alternatively, instead of waiting for conferences to pay you, you could always organize your own event to speak it at charge attendees for the event, putting the income generated from the event in your pocket.

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Adam Toren

About Adam Toren

Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.