Economic challenges are on the horizon. (Not to mention those that are already here!) What can you do to protect your hard work and ensure that your small business continues to thrive?
It’s a question worthy of lots of discussion. You can find plenty of advice mentioning loans and funding, and protecting cash flow. For sure, you want to keep marketing yourself. And we all know to treat existing customers like gold!
But at the end of the day, there’s always the next big question to be unpacked: Is there anything else I can do to make more money?
Good news! There’s a simple answer here, too - diversify through multiple income streams! But, that’s easier said than done, right?
In general, to create extra revenue streams for your small business you have to be highly creative but also logical. You want to start by listening carefully to your customers. What are their frustrations; what are their dreams?
Once you’ve done that, here are the next steps to take:
1. Recession-proof Your Small Business Through Automation
First, you have to lay the right foundation. This initial step paves the way for all the others.
As we mentioned, lean, efficient teams have the best chance of getting through a recession. As companies and city departments alike face staffing shortages, you can breathe a sigh of relief – a tiny staff is not necessarily a bad thing! In fact, you’ve already got the “lean” part down.
You just need to work on efficiency - so you can keep performing at a high level - and maybe even add on extra services! To do all that, you’ll want to employ automation.
You see, automation is like having a silent team member – or several – doing work for you. Automation helps you deploy your scarce staff where they will make the most impact on your customer experience.
The best news of all is where the threat of recession is concerned. “74 percent of respondents who use automation at work say automation specifically helps them feel prepared to handle unexpected crises,” says automation pioneer Zapier.
So, there you have it. The foundation for generating long-lasting revenue streams for your small business through times of trial.
Spotz is a great example of business-boosting automation. It’s a software that automates both facility booking and management. In doing so it can open up a whole new world of income generation for small businesses like yours.
2. Consider Reshaping Your Products or Services
Now, let’s talk about exactly how to create new revenue streams. As far as what you sell, there are two main ways – change the substance of the product or service or the way you deliver it.
Get creative with merchandise options — in person or online
Getting creative often means developing new merchandise to support trends. But it can also mean reformulating existing merchandise options.
Clear examples from the pandemic abound here. For instance, with the trend to remote work, the corporation Unilever pivoted. It began prioritizing its home care, personal hygiene, and food categories over skin care and grooming products.
Then, there are particularly innovative examples from the restaurant industry:
- DIY Meal Kits appeared across many different types of restaurants. The goal was to grab a share of the grocery market as most people cooked from home.
- The Menu Slimming approach has made sure restaurants focus on their best-selling items. They’ve simply axed the items in low demand, or replaced them with innovative new items. It’s a great recipe for both business viability and a golden opportunity for rebranding at the same time.
The creativity level from the pandemic is here to stay. Just make sure any changes you make truly suit your customers. There must be a solid logic at play, if you want to see your new merchandise offerings fly off the shelves!
Deliver Products and Services in New Ways
The delivery of certain staple products and services also dramatically changed during the pandemic. For example, we saw curbside pickup – even from businesses like wine bars. At the same time, online dating companies like Bumble and Match began offering video dating.
And plenty of small farmers read the writing on the wall as restaurants closed. Instead, they pivoted to at-home consumers and other news outlets with their sales and marketing efforts.
Many of these farmers ended up finding new “sticky business," as customers learned to appreciate the value of quality, local products during hard times. That’s a trend that’s likely to last as we move from the pandemic to a period marked by economic uncertainty.
One thing’s for sure - as a small business owner, you’ll have to keep up with the newspaper headlines in the coming years. And as you do that, be ready to do some of the old things in different ways.
For example, right now it’s summer and – events are coming back! A smart choice for restaurants, hotels, and other facilities is to automate the usual private party reservations.
Using cutting-edge booking software can allow you to fill more spaces faster. You’ll also delight your customers with greater ease. Win-win!
3. Work Together with Partners – and Compare Notes
Collaborating with other business owners tends to be a reliable boost to small business revenue streams.
Initially, you can meet to discuss trends and creative approaches to new challenges. Then, brainstorm how to combine or cross-promote services and get on the radar of new customers.
For instance, you might promote each other in blog posts and email newsletters, or in each others’ stores. Give discounts to each others’ customers. One example from the pandemic is a collaboration between a flower shop and a furniture store. Or you could organize events for related businesses such as a Local Artisan’s Day.
Also, consider talking to your local Parks and Recreation Department or city office about any opportunities to support them. Of course, you'd be promoting your business in the process.
Maybe you can donate flowers for a big Mother’s Day event? Or loan cowboy boots for a concert? (Depending on the nature of your industry, of course!) These charitable acts can help get your business on peoples’ radars.
If applicable, consider listing yourself as a vendor with area-wide event planners and venues. Finally, use local suppliers yourself when possible. It’s a terrific way to help boost your city's economy. You might find some of those dollars in circulation make their way back around to you!
In short, the richer your network of local connections the more possible revenue streams there are for your small business.
4. Think Outside the Box – Creative Ways to Maximize your Facility Space
Have you considered that you might be sitting on a goldmine? Namely, your business space itself!
In fact, this might be the easiest way of all to generate new revenue streams!
The initial question here is – does your community even know your space is for rent? If you’re the proprietor of something like a hair salon, a bookstore, or even a famous local landmark – your neighboring citizens may have no idea.
So the first step here would be publishing your availability. You can do this with a sign in your store, as well as on your website. You might also want to make booking easy right through your site with a calendar and booking widget.
When listing your spaces online you should provide attractive and compelling pictures. You want to really get peoples’ imaginations going with the possibilities!
You can list your space on Facebook Marketplace, your city's visitor bureau, or Craigslist. But the easiest way to get found (and have time-saving controls in place) is by using a searchable cloud-based facility scheduling software like Spotz.
The next step could be reaching out to local groups that may need a space to rent. A random sampling could include homeschoolers, mom groups, and bingo nights. You also host book clubs, meetups, social clubs, work meetings, badminton tournaments, yoga classes - and more!
As far as which spaces to choose – rent out auxiliary spaces, yards, or back rooms any time of the day or week. Or consider renting your main spaces – when they’re not in use by you.
e sure to take the time to standardize and automate your rental policies and procedures in advance. That way the whole process is easy for your customer - as well as for you and your staff!
Take Action to Boost Revenue Streams for Your Small Business
Of course, the final step on the path to creativity is always action. You must do something new to make new things happen!
But, before you make any dramatic moves toward boosting revenue flows - take a couple of deep breaths first. Check-in with your customers, and with any trusted partners.
Then come back to this list. Choose one idea, and take that first action!
If you’re stumped on where to begin, an easy step is to take a closer look at Spotz. It’s a software designed to boost revenues and make life easier for small businesses like yours.