It’s been a crazy year.
Hurricanes, fires and earthquakes. Not too mention, a political landscape that seems to invade everything – including business.
Yet, chaos and uncertainty are not new business issues. As a long time business owner, I’ve learned the unexpected is always to be expected. Industries change, economies falter, and local disasters of all kinds can put your business at risk.
Sorry for the trip down the dark side, but keeping your business afloat during tough times is challenging. We may not be able to prepare for environmental disasters (except to buy insurance) but we can start diversifying our business so we can survive if we lose one profit stream unexpectedly.
Never Rely on One Product
If you didn’t know how to run a business, you could learn a lot from Google.
They started with a search engine and built a powerhouse global corporation. But they didn’t stop with internet marketing (and they could have) and now they even make smartphones. If Adwords suddenly collapses and Google loses its main revenue source, it still has its “other” business:
“Google’s “other” business — everything that’s not advertising, including its cloud business and Google Play app store — grew 42 percent year over year to $ 3.1 billion.”
Maybe your main business is like Adwords and has a long and happy future ahead. And maybe not. Since we can’t predict the future, always have more than one profit stream as your business’s foundation. Not only will you help insulate your business, but you’ll increase your profits as well.
Use It to Grow Your Brand
Adding a new profit stream doesn’t have to be like creating a new business. You can simply build off the existing business you have.
Crooked Media, which started as a political podcast, made money by promoting products during breaks. Now, the hosts routinely talk about their merchandise and label their followers as “Friends of the Pod”. This created a tribe of fans who wanted to buy their merchandise, including a line of plain t-shirts with their basic logo.
This may never reach the profitability of sponsors. However, it is a great way to grow a brand while increasing profitability. Think of what kind of product could be used to grow your brand image. Maybe it’s a t-shirt, but it could also be an online course, eBook, or video series. Think about ways to branch out and get more eyes on your brand.
Make It Easy and Affordable
It would be great to find a profit stream that would triple your sales. And maybe you can. But you don’t have to invest all of Profit Stream A into Profit Stream B. Instead, think about bootstrapping the entire project.
One of the easiest approaches is to sell something online. It is surprisingly easy and affordable to sell items (digital and physical) from your website, blog or even Facebook. Choose an eCommerce solution that is simple to use and that customers enjoy as 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content is unattractive. Find tools, resources, and platforms that will help you launch your new product without a large investment. Thankfully, there are many to choose from.
Focus on finding the best way to sell your new product without reinventing the wheel. You can always expand operations after you launch this profit stream.
Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst
Sadly, I know how much damage losing one profit stream can mean for my bottom line. Even if you’re doing everything right, you may stumble into a situation that’s not your fault. Like an unexpected change in technology that makes your product obsolete.
Think about what would happen if your main source of income was cut in half next month. Do you have anything in the pipeline that could replace it? Do you have enough in reserves to cover your business costs until you find another profit stream?
Start small, try new things and maybe you’ll find something that really takes off. Either way, it’s a way to reduce risks during rough patches. So make 2018 the year you branch out and add a new profit stream.
Or better yet – start two.
Author: Liesha Petrovich
Liesha’s a freelancer by day and Kyokushin Black Belt by night. She’s the author of Killing Rapunzel: Learning How to Save Yourself Through Determination, Grit, and Self-Employment (her mother hates the title – but it’s a metaphor mom!). She talks freelancing adventures at Microbusiness Essentials and grassroots movements at… View full profile ›