I was reading in the paper this week about the plight of some of the store owners in Swan Street who were lamenting how rough things are with having to pay rent and utilities etc with falling sales. That hurts my heart, but at the same time it just emphasises the point that we need to have multiple strategies of earning income in these times and multiple business models.
The reality is, the duties won’t go away and, as long as you have a store front, neither will the rent and utilities, so perhaps these store owners need to consider, in addition to waiting for customers to walk in, taking their products to the customer.
I know that years ago people would drive around in cars and vans and go into the communities and sell their goods. I still see that happening but more rarely so maybe it’s something that needs to be revisited, especially since the trend today is easy access and instant gratification.
Shop keepers should therefore use that to their advantage and make it easy for potential customers to access their stock without having to leave their home. Kind of like the ice-cream truck.
I also believe that everyone should be looking at what they have in terms of skills, abilities and resources and who they know and think how they can use that information to make money. I’m always saying this, but I guess until things are really bad or someone loses their job, the need to make the effort to earn extra income may not be that pressing. However, imagine just earning an extra $300 a month by using your ability to bake or to sew or something.
I love business training and motivational speaking because I enjoy the direct interaction with people. However, if you ask anyone who does training and speaking what is the hardest thing about it, I’m sure they will tell you it is standing on your feet for hours, especially for us ladies in high heel shoes.
So my objective is to have the personal interaction through seminars and workshops but to also use webinars and the Internet to earn income in other ways, using my knowledge of business.
Writing and publishing books for me is another strategy to earn income. It’s great that while I’m sleeping my books can be selling online without any input from me, once my initial work has been done. That’s one form of passive income. Of course I can’t just sit back and wait for readers to find my books, hence the continual marketing through Facebook, Writerspace.com, Barbados Today and any other way I can keep a presence in the market, but even that does not require much physical effort.
Businesses also need to find ways to increase online sales and, depending on the business, that may be easier for some people than others. I recently saw an Inc.com issue which featured a story of a young entrepreneur who started an e-commerce company selling vintage clothes on eBay initially but because of certain restrictions imposed by eBay, she created her own website and with the large following she had from MySpace, started a business catering that went from making $223,000 in 2008 to $23 million in 2011. That is a 10,313 per cent increase in revenue in three years! I can’t begin to tell you how that inspired me.
Yes I know that is the US market and I know that our market is small, which is precisely why we can’t afford to just focus on the Barbados market and we can’t rely on one strategy for earning revenue. More than ever, we need to find ways to work smarter and not harder and to seek to create products and services that don’t require our being there to earn revenue.
Just to add another thought, for those in the clothing retail business, consider not just buying other people’s stuff and selling it, but working with some of the amazing designers coming out of BCC to create Barbados brands which may be related to surfing, beach and island life. Perhaps some of our celebrities in sports and music can help to market these new brands.
The bottom line is that we all need to look at the way we do business and see how we can become more creative in selling our products and services in more cost effective ways. I’m forever going on about knowledge based products but that’s because the input costs are minimal and the returns can be significant.
I challenge you to take some time this weekend, get away somewhere quiet and brainstorm how you can generate at least one additional stream of income and more importantly, how you can make it happen. I will report on mine next week, God willing.
* Donna Every is the CEO of Arise Consulting Inc. which provides business and motivational training and advice to help individuals and organizations fulfill their purpose. She has written four books and has just release her second novel, The High Road which is available on Amazon.com or can be pre-ordered from her.