My 7 Streams (Part 2)
Killin’ me Smalls…get on with how you are building multiple income streams.
In my post last week I started discussing my (planned) seven income streams. There I gave you the current status of Streams 1-3 and provided you some brief action items related to my streams. In this post I’ll cover Streams 4-7 using the same format.
To re-cap, the first three Streams were 1) my current salary/future pension, 2) my income-producing stock investments and 3) my real estate income. Now on to Stream Four.
Stream 4: Online retail (Amazon and eBay)
Me: I think I made my first eBay purchase while in college and purchased a pedal for my guitar. In 2007 my wife and I opened a seller account and sold something that had been laying around the house on eBay (I just asked her if she remembers what it was and she does not). Since then we have sold hundreds of unique items to buyers around the world- many were things lying around the house we no longer wanted or needed, some items we purpose-bought from yard sales, thrift stores or Craigslist to sell. And then, about two years ago I learned about selling on Amazon from my brother-in-law and I began selling there. While this income stream does take some work (takes a few hours a week) it can easily bring in a several hundred dollars a month (it is also the closest thing to a hobby I currently have.) Right now I have about 100 items for sale between Amazon and eBay and could easily scale up with a few weekends of thrifting and listing. My goal is to net $1000/mo between eBay and Amazon by doing this only in my spare time.
You: This is perhaps one of the easiest income streams to build…or just an easy way to bring in a few bucks. While it may never generate the majority of your income, it is a relatively simple method to bring in a few hundred to a thousand dollars a month. All it takes, like anything, is a willingness to learn and a few hours a week to implement. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of Internet resources to help online sellers. I recommend starting at Thrifting for Profit Facebook group. Check out the 7Streams resources page for more links as well.
Stream 5: Spouse’s business
Me: In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I have a very patient and grounded wife. She has supported (or endured) my various hobbies and dabblings throughout the years. When I first started talking about entrepreneurship she was happy to let me say my piece, but when I mentioned quitting my job to do “something” on my own she got a little concerned. Well, that moment passed but that discussion we had sparked her own creativity. A few months later she told me about her own business idea, how she would put her natural creativity to work and she and her mom would repaint and sell wood furniture and other related items. I can’t tell you how excited I was about that prospect, that this was something in which I could finally support her (rather than the other way around). We have since launched River Mud and while we have yet to make a sale we are excited about its potential. I truly have no clue what the long term potential is for this. I believe there will always be a niche market for my wife’s type of creativity and with the right commitment in the right direction we could likely make $2000/mo or more in the near term.
You: Hey, maybe your spouse or significant other isn’t into this entrepreneurial stuff, or maybe you don’t have a significant other on whom you can rely for an income stream. That’s not the point here; rather, it is about working within your current relationships or networks and finding opportunities. What about your buddy who has always wanted to start an ice cream shop? Does he need help in marketing or buying a bicycle-cart? How about your neighbor’s lawn care business? What need does he have? Or maybe your wife is incredibly creative and enjoys entertaining…if she’s up for it, put a free ad on Craigslist and offer to plan a birthday party for $100. Look for opportunities, they are all around you.
Stream 6: Passive, recurring revenue from an online service
Me: At this point I am moving into the more aspirational realm. I have a side project called My Total Inventory into which I have put a significant amount of time over the last few months. It is a software application to help small-time online sellers track their inventory across multiple platforms (based on my own need as an Amazon and eBay seller). I actually got a few pre-sales for this as well! However, the traction for which I was hoping did not materialize and I am still pondering know how much time and money I’m willing to risk on a potentially unneeded product. With that being said, my goal for Stream 6 is some sort of passive, recurring revenue from an online endeavor. Even if I close down My Total Inventory I will be keeping my eyes open for related needs. My goal for this income stream is at least $3000/mo net but will plan on it being volatile income at best given the ever-changing digital world in which we currently live.
You: Okay, you are likely thinking that you know nothing about building software or what the heck a recurring revenue model is. That’s fine…but I bet you have a pain point of your own that you wish someone would solve. Well, that someone is probably you. What are you doing that you would willingly pay someone else to do? What recurring task drives you nuts and you know there is an easier way to do it? Has anyone in your social circle complained about something they would willingly pay someone to do for them? Does anyone else share that pain? If you can answer any of those questions you probably have an idea that might lead to an income streams.
Stream 7: ???
Me: So I have no idea what Stream 7 will be. It will likely be to create and market some sort of physical product (apart from my wife’s business) or provide a physical service. Because of my eBay and Amazon business I have been in many shipping stores and USPS locations. This opened my eyes to the potential of opening a shipping store of my own. Given my “real job” this is not something I could do on my own right now. Earlier this year a co-worker and I did some detailed analysis of opening a shipping franchise in our area. We determined it would be profitable but abandoned the idea after encountering difficulty in finding a manager. (This is still a good opportunity so if you know anyone in eastern North Carolina who would like to be a manager of a small store with great growth potential, let me know!) I’m not going to put a dollar value on this stream but I see it potentially being the most lucrative overall.
You: This one is up to you and your imagination. What other need is out there waiting for someone to fill? When driving around your community, what strikes you as missing? For what service are you currently driving 45 minutes and you wish were closer? Even if you do not pursue any of those ideas, investigating costs nothing and the insights you gain in the process will be priceless. And by merely taking action you will start the creative, entrepreneurial process.
So, there are my streams
And that’s it. My 7 Streams. Four are already in motion, one is gaining momentum and two are simmering and waiting for the right combination of opportunity and time. None of them alone will achieve the goal of financial independence but together (with God’s blessing) they will, over time, assure my family of a safe financial future.
What are your 7Streams?