Author of The CashPT Blueprint; business owner, coach and podcast host helping healthcare entrepreneurs scale their time, income and impact.
If you learn only one lesson from the last year, let it be this: your business needs multiple streams of income to stay resilient and profitable.
Factors outside of your control — a pandemic, an economic downturn, an algorithm change, a few negative reviews — can upend your business overnight, leaving you scrambling for solutions. Scenarios like these are all too common right now:
• You had a single source for client referrals, and they went out of business
• You designed your services to be provided in-person, but that won’t be possible for some time
• You only sold your products from a brick-and-mortar store, and you’ve had to close your doors during local lockdowns
The past year has been a stress test for businesses, and those that adapted or pivoted quickly were able to survive and even thrive. Don’t wait for this crisis to worsen or the next to emerge. Adopt the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” now.
How I Diversify My Business Income Streams
My businesses have evolved and grown over the course of my career. I’m a physical therapist who operates a clinic offering physical therapy, massage therapy and health coaching. The clinic is my primary business, but I’ve also channeled my experience into complementary services, such as online business and marketing courses for PTs, consulting services for corporations and business coaching for individuals.
With each new venture, I’ve gained more skills and experience that are valuable to others — even if I didn’t realize it at the time. This is true for you, too. No matter what your primary business is, you have expertise that other people need and are willing to pay for. Here are five ideas for developing additional revenue streams.
1. Online Courses
Transform your knowledge into a step-by-step course that helps people solve a problem. Use one of the many online platforms that make it simple to build and host your course, or do it for free using nothing but an email list and a private Facebook group.
The best advice I can give you is to sell your course before you create it. I’ve used this model to launch my most successful online courses, generating more than $1.8 million. First, figure out what your customers truly want. Ask your followers via social media or email what their biggest challenge is in a certain area — for example, “What’s your biggest pain point in marketing?” — and build an outline of a course that offers a solution to that problem.
Find a dozen people who want the course and will actually pay for it, then build the curriculum for them once you have proof of concept. Treat this first group as beta testers, and offer them the course at a discounted rate in exchange for their patience and feedback as you develop videos, written content or downloadable assets that address their pain points. Agree to deliver different modules in a certain timeframe, and raise the price for future customers after you’ve worked out the kinks.
2. Online Sales
Consider which of your current products or services you could sell online. Which digital or physical products could you offer in an online store? Which in-person services could you convert to a digital format? Could you develop a new knowledge product from existing resources, like a video series based on your website’s FAQ page? Expanding how you reach your customers makes your business more flexible and resilient.
In 2020, our clinic created new ways to help our physical therapy patients through video calls instead of in-person visits. If they express an interest in buying a physical product to help them with exercises at home, we can sell and send it to them. This is also an opportunity to tie a tangible product to an intangible service; for example, we may include a note with the product that says, “If you need additional help, we’d be happy to apply the $50 you spent here to a strategy session or a total body diagnostic with our clinic.”
Think of the areas in which your friends and colleagues already ask for your help. What questions do you answer often? What do you know how to do that you might take for granted but that others around you value? These are all potential opportunities for consulting services.
Test your ideas in a low-risk way. Answer questions and share your advice in LinkedIn and Facebook groups and other professional forums. This is how I got started; I was simply trying to be helpful, then people began offering to pay me for my expertise. Consulting fees for speaking at events or coaching companies and individuals can reach hundreds or even thousands of dollars an hour.
4. Complementary Services
Build out another stream of income that serves your current customers in a different way. How can you address another need or solve a different problem for them?
In my coaching business, I assist clients in scaling their businesses, but I’m also developing a product that helps develop email automation systems. In our clinic, we help people recover from pain conditions and injuries; when they recover, they don’t need physical therapy anymore but may be interested in massage therapy.
5. Affiliate Sales
Connect your customers with helpful resources while also earning a commission through affiliate sales. You recommend software vendors, service providers or products that you use and believe in, and when people purchase them, you earn a small share of the fees.
For instance, in my coaching business, I have an affiliate partnership with a merchant processing company. If clients sign up for the service, I earn a modest percentage of the recurring fees. It provides a steady income stream that continues for as long as clients use the software, even if I stop my working relationship with them.
If you want to future-proof your business, you need a second (or a third or fourth) source of income, and now is the right time to start.