Think about the way your business runs: you attract prospective clients, convert them to customers, collect the money, cultivate repeat business, and encourage customers to refer other prospective clients. Each of these steps entails specific challenges, and one of your goals as an entrepreneur should be to automate as many of these steps as possible. Automation – implementing systems that perpetuate your business without your involvement – is the key to generating income while you sleep.
Here are some ways in which you can set your business to earn a profit while you focus your attention elsewhere:
1. Make yourself into a product.
Once you’ve found success – or even while you’re on the road to it – you should look for opportunities to promote yourself as a brand. Position yourself as the authority in your niche and develop products like videos or books that share your secrets of success. The beauty of a book is that once the hard work is over – it’s written, edited, and a marketing plan implemented – then you simply collect proceeds while you move on to your next project.
2. Do fewer things.
It’s impossible to automate aspects of your business if you insist on doing everything personally. You need to train your staff to handle certain aspects of your business and the best way to accomplish this goal is to simplify your output. Look at McDonald’s: they do basically five things – burgers, fries, chicken, salad, and soda. They package these things differently and sell them in different combinations, but the simplicity is what allows them to reproduce the menu in locations all over the world and sell their products without requiring highly skilled labor. Identify your strengths and streamline your offerings, focusing on the items that you can train your staff to replicate.
3. Create continuity.
Billing for each service or product you supply is volatile; both your revenue and your client’s expenses vary wildly. By selling a subscription at a flat rate, you create a reliable income for your company and you provide your clients with predictable expenses. Both parties are invested in maximum efficiency – maximizing quality and minimizing hassle. It’s the ultimate win-win for both you and your clients.
4. Sell your system cheap and make money on the refills.
We’re talking primarily about businesses that produce tangible goods, here. The best two examples of this model are the Keurig coffee makers and printers. While the devices themselves are relatively cheap, all of the profit is in the individual refills for cups of coffee or cartridges of ink. If your machine makes a great cup of coffee or great quality copies, once consumers own your brand of device, you’re guaranteed their continued business.
5. Become the middle man.
Find a way to broker business and let other folks do the work for you. Becoming an Amazon affiliate is a great example. You link to their site; they sell, and you make money. There’s also a fortune to be made in consolidating and coordinating the transportation of goods. Be on the lookout for the opportunity to broker goods and services.
6. Become a teacher.
I’m not taking about summer breaks and parent conferences. Look at your business and find ways to teach other entrepreneurs how to acquire the skills necessary for opening their own business modeled on yours. Say you own a successful pizza shop. You might think that you don’t really have to opportunity to cash in on the educational aspects of your expertise, and you’d be flat wrong. You could write a book or create a series of instructional videos on your family’s recipes, or you could market a consumable version of your plan for opening a profitable pizza shop. An additional benefit is that you’re positioning yourself as an authority, and your name on a book enhances your brand. Use this side benefit of creating your educational product to generate greater consumer awareness for your business.
7. Become an investor.
Money makes money, but it’s important that you’re careful about how you invest as an entrepreneur. Here’s my tip: look at your clients and assess their needs. Find a company (in addition to yours) that addresses those needs and invest there. Not only will you be forging a bond between your company and others that focus on enhancing client relationships, but you’re also cementing your position in your customers’ minds as the business that caters to their desires. Once you’ve done the groundwork, you’re the good guy who makes money without effort.
I’m not going to try to minimize the grueling effort that it takes to launch and build a successful business. What I am showing you, though, are some creative ways that you can make your hard work pay off once your business is on its feet.