My grandfather once said that people had three chances in their lifetimes to strike out on their own and “make it” – the first time, they were too young to realize it; the second time, they were burdened with family responsibilities and were afraid; and the third time, they were too old. He was a smart man and made a million dollars as an entrepreneur. If he were alive today in the current economic landscape, I can imagine him telling me to generate multiple income streams, in order to prepare for the eventuality of job loss and outdated career skills.
The individual who has planned ahead for job loss and has developed other income sources, may take loss of a job as an opportunity to focus on other streams and develop new ones. Here are 11 clever tips that will help you be that person.
1. Don’t quit your day job (yet)
You may dream of striking out on your own, but you do have to eat and keep a roof over your head. Begin your other income streams gradually, one at a time, until you have enough income to at least replace what you are earning now.
2. Identify what you have passions for
Find out what specific skills and talents you have and then do some research about what income streams are available for you. Here’s a case in point: A friend of mine was quite a successful mortgage underwriter, but began to have concerns about the industry quite a while before it collapsed in 2008. She was also a skilled pianist, and decided to use that skill to generate another income source. She began to work for a music school evenings and weekends – teaching keyboard classes to young children and taking on private students as well. She saved all of her second income and, over time, was able to rent a small space for her own studio. Ultimately, she lost her underwriting position, and took her show “on the road,” marketing her teaching skills to day care centers who were thrilled to have someone come in during the day and teach music classes. Today, she has a huge day care business, with two other teachers working for her, and maintains her studio as well, not to mention that she has also taken a position as a church music director. One talent – 3 income streams! Now that the housing market has begun to pick up, she also freelances as an underwriter for two small mortgage companies. A busy lady, but one who loves the variety.
3. Acquire new skills
E-business is a wonderful thing, and there are so many ways to make money online. Take some online or evening courses in web and graphic design, or read some SEO tips to get started with your own online business and website. World Web is opened for you – find some peculiar skills you would like to develop. Check online for matches between your skills and talents and income opportunities, to determine viability and demand for your current skills or those you intend to acquire.
4. Determine your market
Who wants or needs what you have to sell? This may take a bit of research, but you can visit freelance sites and quickly discover what services are in demand for freelancers. If you have product(s), who will want to buy them? Part of making money quickly is to locate potential customers as quickly and cheaply as possible, insert yourself (and your product) into that market.
5. Start marketing your service or product
This may be the most difficult endeavor. If your skill or product will be sold locally, you go to potential consumers and sell yourself or that product. If, however, you are looking for consumers online, your activities will be very different. If you are not an online marketing specialist/expert, getting help from a professional will be money well invested. If you have some expertise and the time, look at the marketing strategies that successful online businesses use and emulate them.
6. Set up a blog, a website, and social media accounts
Whether your business is local or more widespread, you need these things. At a local level, you can spend lots of money placing ads in mailers or getting a few radio slots; you can distribute flyers and place an ad on Craigslist. But people are tech savvy and mobile – they tend to throw mailings and flyers away. You have to “meet” them where they are, and that is online. If you are uncertain about how to start a blog, check out the numerous free help guides on the web. You can do so many things with a blog. Of course, you will provide great information and education about services and products related to your business. You can link your blog to all of your social media accounts (you must have these) and to your website (you must have one).
Once you have your blog, website, and social media accounts, drive people to your website by offering freebies – a sample, an e-book, etc. You will get their email addresses and this grows your email list, steadily and efficiently. Offer to give webinars or face-to-face seminars related to your services. This may serve two purposes – either obtaining new clients or, as your business grows, bringing in others to work for and with you. On your website or on your blog, run a survey, and find out what your potential/actual customers still want or need. Use the results to expand what you offer.
7. Embrace the power of networking
Join a local business networking organization of your Chamber of Commerce. You can develop contacts with other business owners and set up mutual referral activities. Members in these groups come from all types of businesses, organizations, and enterprises, and when their customers are looking for what you offer, they will refer you. Of course, you will do the same thing for them.
8. Set up both active and passive income streams.
There are only so many hours in a day. If you are still working a “day job,” you may only be able to develop one or two other streams in which you must play an active role. But part of security in income is developing passive income sources as well. If you have some additional cash to invest, look for safe and reliable places to invest for a return. Several years ago, I placed money with a real estate investor who purchased foreclosures for rental property. I do nothing but receive a monthly check based upon rental incomes from the properties he and I partner on. He takes care of leasing, maintenance and repair, takes a percentage of the income for that, and I get the rest.
9. Get help from others
Use the experience of those who have successful streams of income. Learn how they began and how they grew their streams over time. To get started I would advise browsing Pat Flying’s Smart Passive Income blog and podcasts and Tim Ferris’ iconic book and blog – the Four Hour Workweek. Need more guidance? There are plenty of mentors and business coaches available online these days. Just make sure you have read reviews about them or talked to someone using their services.
10. Do not be afraid to ask
Ask current customers for referrals, testimonials, and to act as references to potential customers/clients. Satisfied customers with whom you have developed a good relationship will usually be happy to do these things. Pay for them to join Angie’s list and write good reviews about your services/products.
11. Sell Ads
As you gain popularity on social media and through your blog and website, sell advertising on your blog and/or site for related businesses. There are some hugely popular bloggers who have a lucrative income from their advertising. Contact related businesses and enterprises and offer paid ads on your website, blog and social media accounts. The more popular your online presences become, the more people will want to advertise with you and establish long-term partnership.