This scenario may sound all too familiar to you: because you are a creative, you are brimming with ideas and ready to start your entrepreneurial journey. But you want to capitalize and work on one specific idea that not only brings you fulfillment but also gives you the coins you need to survive (because creatives shouldn't starve in these streets).
So you do what many entrepreneurs do when they first start out: choose one idea and start working intensely on it.
You do your due diligence on your idea by researching what your target audience needs and wants and surveying potential clients. You compile all of this information together, comb through the insights and prime yourself to make something super epic for your audience.
You get prepared the way that real marketers do before they even think about building something new.
After receiving this validation from your target audience, you pour your heart and soul into creating this offering, whether that's a new product or service. You take special care to make sure that buyers would really want it. You spend days, maybe even weeks or months, seeing this idea into fruition. You package it up and make it attractive.
And then it's go time.
You launch your baby to the world and let everyone know it's for sale using your savvy marketing skills. You shout it out from the rooftops and you let your potential buyers know that you have the solution they've been looking for.
But instead of hearing the chime of payment notifications hitting your inbox, you hear crickets chirping and tumbleweeds blowing around.
Though this scenario sucks and makes you feel a wide range of emotions, it happens all of the time to entrepreneurs. It's even happened to me.
At this point, you could do one of a few things:
1. You could spend all of your time figuring out what you did wrong so you can make changes that hopefully sells your idea in the future. That could be re-surveying your potential customers and asking them why they didn't buy your product. It could also mean that you choose and implement a different marketing strategy for your offering. But who's to say that these approaches will work so you can make money from your revised idea?
2. You could ask your colleagues for advice and feedback on where you messed up in the process so you know where you went wrong. But, let's hope that your colleagues are experts in your field or can give you actionable feedback that will help you. Otherwise, what may work for them may fall flat for you.
3. You could lament and sulk around on what you could have done better. Yes, it may feel good to release these emotions of confusion or hurt, but let's be honest, this won't make you any more money.
Now, are you ready for the "let's get real" moment?
As creatives, we get so sucked into a product or service that doesn't sell, and we fail to realize it is simply a small part of our larger business ecosystem. Because if we're going to be frank:
As an entrepreneur, you aren't just the product or service you sell.
Your business is more than this one success or failure.
You need more than one product, service or project to create a thriving, sustainable business that makes money.
Being a nimble entrepreneur requires you to let go of good ideas so great ones can flourish.
But as entrepreneurs, we need to develop thick, resilient skin and think outside of the box when it comes to creating our business off of our talent, passion and purpose.
So where does that lead us to, ladies and gents?
For us to grow as entrepreneurs, we need to ensure that we have a foundation for our business that increases our influence and authority, gives us multiple ways to market our expertise and makes us the money we need to support our lifestyle.
This foundation cannot exist based on your sole product or service, the one you spent countless hours working on.
You must let go of the idea that your idea bombed for the moment. Think of this as an opportunity to widen your perspective on your business. This isn't the time to reduce yourself and your talents.
This is the ideal time to multiply them, in the form of creating multiple income streams.
Ok, now you're probably like, wait what Erica? My product/service didn't work so how can I possibly multiply it to make money now??
Creating multiple income streams that tie back to your business is the most organic way to grow your income, the easiest way to market yourself naturally and the simplest way to share your knowledge and expertise with the world. This is how seasoned entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies and small businesses make their money, by selling multiple ideas in various ways to diversify their income sources.
To be clear, this doesn't mean you become the Jill or Jack of all Trades who does accounting while babysitting and doing pedicures on the side. This also doesn't mean that you should ditch, start over or revise the idea you just spent weeks or months preparing and executing.
I'm simply saying that you should think of your business as more than just your product or service and start realizing that you can offer your talents in multiple ways to create income streams that matter. That may mean recycling or reusing parts of what you just made to develop other income sources that will support your business. This means leveraging your talent in multiple ways that market, promote and showcase what you have to offer to the world.
So how do you create multiple streams of income? First, you need to know what types of income you can actually create for your business.
Active income is the money that you receive after you put in the work (trading time for money). Some examples of active income streams could include teaching a class, giving a speech or hosting a workshop, consulting with a client, conducting your service, making (and then selling) your physical products, etc.
Passive income is the money you receive from making a product or service and selling it (with little maintenance). Examples of how you can stream income passively include through the sale of e-books, automated webinars, e-courses, email series or challenges, etc.
So, if you only have one income stream now (and it's that e-course that never sold), what's a good number to have for a business and what's a good ratio of active to passive income streams? I recommend having between 3-5 income sources with a good mix of active and passive. I would never suggest having all of your income streams be active because you'll quickly become burned out from your work. I also don't think having all passive income streams is a great idea, either. Without an active income stream, you may lose out on learning from your audience and getting real-time feedback that could help you create future income streams.
What should you do as a product-based entrepreneur?
As a product-based entrepreneur, you could sell your products and then teach people how to create or sell those products. For instance, if you own a jewelry boutique, you could sell your jewelry and either teach people how to create pieces for themselves or teach other boutique owners how to sell and receive the same success with their online boutique through e-books, web trainings or in-person events.
What should you do as a service-based entrepreneur?
As a service-based entrepreneur, you could monetize your business by creating passive income products that support your services. For example, if you are a yoga instructor, you probably already offer in-person classes or private training. But to optimize on your talents, you could also sell an e-book on the best yoga poses, host an automated webinar where you teach people different types of yoga and what works best for their needs or create a membership site where you provide updates and content for yoga fanatics on a recurring basis.
Are you still not convinced that creating and managing multiple income streams is for you? Here are four benefits you receive from having many sources of income:
1. It will diversify how you make money.
When I made very little sales on a digital product that I worked for months to produce, I felt defeated. I quickly removed it from my website and stopped mentioning it to others. Then, I felt a twinge of guilt for spending so much time on something that didn't result in making real money for me. When you make money from various ways, you don't have to worry about lackluster sales for a particular product or service because you can make up the money in other ways.
2. It's easier to predict your income on a monthly basis.
At the peak of my entrepreneurship journey, I had five sources of income (which I consider the ideal number of sources) funneling into my work. I was a brand ambassador, held a paying public relations internship, participated in public relations research, received scholarship money every semester and made money from participating in side research projects on campus. If I didn't have time to dedicate to one income stream, I could still predict how much money I would make based on my other side hustles. This flexibility gave me the financial freedom I wanted to live in an apartment off campus, pay for trips and eat out fairly often and not struggle with money as a college student.
3. You quickly realize what you enjoy doing most in your business.
When you only have one source of income, you're reliant on making money from that one thing, whether you enjoy it or not. But having multiple income streams means you can quickly determine how you like to make money and what makes you the most happy and fulfilled. For instance, you may make e-books for a living but then realize you enjoy sharing that knowledge through paid webinars instead. This is something you don't discover when you're focused on releasing one product or service at a time.
4. You are introduced to new audiences (helping your clientele grow!).
One of the strategies that I employ as part of my business is working with CloudPeeps to offer PR, marketing and social media services to businesses looking for this expertise. CloudPeeps curates warm opportunities from businesses and connects me with the opportunity to work with them so that I don't have to spend much time trying to find new clients for myself. By doing this, I am exposing my expertise and authority to a new audience of people, as opposed to keeping my expertise a quiet secret that no one knows about. I'm also getting the social proof, testimonials and experience I need to create and launch new income streams in the future.
So, are you ready to grow your business with multiple income streams? Use these bonus worksheets from my Blog to Business workbook to gain clarity and guidance on what active and passive income streams you can create for your business. You can access them for free using the button below!