When looking at scaling our business, growing profit AND giving ourselves time back. We need to look at 3 key questions.
Do I have to do the work or can I outsource it to someone else?
Can I receive 1000 orders tomorrow and handle it?
Is the process/delivery repeatable so anyone can do it?
The products, services and businesses I talk about later on, all adhere to these rules in one way or another.
Some are slightly easier to set up and imagine working. Others require a longer commitment.
All of these are designed to allow you, the owner, to create and then distribute with relative ease.
Later on we’ll be going through the processes and systems we can use to build, set up, attract and deliver these exact products. We’ll talk about money management and profit, as well as the resources you’ll need to grow this business.
Whatever you can help people with now, whatever industry or category you’re in, these 31 business ideas could suit.
I’ve decided to give examples of business, product and service types first. As many people don’t know their options when they want a scalable business model. The concept of many of these products will be new to a lot of people, so I want to share what’s possible before we look at how to create and deliver them.
1. eBook of transcribed recordings of training someone how to do something
If you’re a consultant, freelancer or micro-business, at some point you probably have to train your customers.
How to use the WordPress dashboard, how to define your market offering etc. Whether its consultation or coaching, you’re sitting down with your customers to help them do something.
One of the fastest products that can scale is an e-book. An electronic book rather than printed (though that’s certainly an option).
E-books never run out of stock, can be bought on massive marketplaces like Amazon or just via your website as a PDF.
The one drawback is that they need to be written. That can take time.
However, you’re delivering training all the time. Even if you’re not, there’s no reason you couldn’t mock up a training session.
Whip out your smartphone, record your training and get the audio transcribed (I’ll explain where and how later). This gives you all the text copy you could need.
We’ve worked out that an hours presentation provides 8000 – 14000 words. More than enough for a short e-book on a specific topic.
People like e-book content because they can reference it. They can print it out, make notes and re-read it.
Often, I hear people ask me “but if I’ve delivered the training, they won’t want the book.” Or, “If the book is cheaper than the training, people won’t pay for the training anymore”.
While at first glance these may seem like valid objections, the truth is that e-books allow you to reach a wider audience. People who couldn’t afford your training. The people who can afford your training will appreciate the extra content that they can reference.
2. Course explaining a topic that you can help with
This requires a little more work, but no more than building any other product.
Online courses, with video content, worksheets, quizzes and online communities are fantastic ways to deliver your results. Most of us are in the digital creative or marketing space. But we’ve seen courses in Muay Thai, Carpentry and Defensive Driving.
You don’t have to create a course that tells people EVERYTHING you know. In fact, Rock Star Empires, who teach businesses how to create courses, recommend with a broad topic. 6 modules within that topic and 6 lessons within each module.
Each lesson only needs to be 5 – 10 minutes long.
The key to producing online video courses, is structuring your content and delivery. Most of us have a process when completing work for a client. Whatever you do, write out the steps you go through with customers and make bullet points.
For example, lets say you’re a social media marketer. You want to teach customers how to generate more traffic from social.
When you sit down with your customers, where do you start? A traffic audit, maybe look at their analytics? You then go through a process to help them get more traffic, explaining all their options and how it works.
So break down your broader topic into 6 modules. Maybe the 4 social big channels available, an introduction and a summary. Each module then needs 6 lessons to cover off what you know. Try to include a worksheet or resource/template for each lesson so your students have something to do.
There’s way too much to course delivery to cover even in one book. My recommendation would be to check out Rock Star Empires if you want to see how the pros do it.
3. Course explaining how to teach what you teach
We need to go deeper. Rather than a course teaching someone how to execute a social marketing strategy or a content plan. How about teaching someone how to teach OTHERS that skill?
Other businesses are always looking for more strings to their bow. New skill-sets and services are often required by other businesses to expand their offering.
Rather than helping individual customers with someone, what if someone asked “I want to do what you do”.
Immediately, most people’s reactions are defensive. “If I teach you, then you’ll take all my business!”
This simply isn’t the case. Frankly, if we’re being realistic, there are very few jobs that can’t already be delivered by other people. But you could find an entirely new market (bearing in mind, you already have contacts who probably do want to learn what you do), become an authority very fast (due to your experience) and you’re now known as the person who is so good, they teach OTHER people how to do whatever.
The structure behind a “teach what I teach” course share similarities to regular courses. But the language and timing differs slightly, as you may need to include sections on answering questions for their customers or pricing and selling techniques.
When you teach others to do what you do and ENCOURAGE them to find customers, it elevates you above your competition. You’ll become a vital resource for your students who want to deliver better results to their customers.
It becomes easier to provide coaching to your students AND you can increase prices for your own customers. It becomes very hard to negotiate with the person who teaches others to do it.
4. Blog posts with traffic for advertising
Advertising revenue from blog posts is a wonderfully simple model. However you need a lot of traffic to pull in advertising. That’s not to say it can’t work, you even have promoted posts from larger brands who pay to be on your blog.
What you need is regular, high quality and valuable content. It needs to be extremely useful, targeted at a specific market and have constant work promoting its content.
Specific niche markets can draw large traffic numbers relatively quickly. If you can get others to share the content via social channels and email marketing. You can draw a large regular audience.
Advertisers want to see consistent, regular eyeballs to your content, before they’re willing to commit to paying you.
On the other hand, Google Adsense network, Sovrn and Outbrain are all advertising networks that will happily provide you with code to start advertising straight away.
It’s a snippet of code that you install on your site and boom! You’ve got advertising revenue.
Fair warning though, although it scales and requires only content – you need a LOT of traffic.
Estimates to generate $100 000 in revenue, per year from a blog means you need $274 per day. So that’s close to $1 per day from 274 pages.
There’s roughly a 1% click through rate on ads from blog posts. Cost per click might be $0.25 (it could be WAY higher), so that’s 4 clicks per day. Per post. Which needs roughly 400 views per page. Which is 400 * 274 to the site per day.
That’s 109 000 visitors per day. Roughly.
For some sites, that’s easily achievable. And also, you’re not JUST using Adsense for your revenue. There are sponsored posts, banner ads and products. (https://www.minterest.org/how-much-traffic-do-you-need-to-make-money/ has more information).
Honestly, I love the blog/ad revenue model. It’s a strong contender, especially if you have nothing but time and content. But you need to be serious about creating content to a specific market if you want those numbers.
5. Templates and pre-created content
When you’re working with clients, you probably use the same 5 – 10 templates for emails, web pages, worksheets, designs and more. What’s stopping you from selling them?
Copistore.com was our exact answer to that. We were using the same basic emails and page templates for all our clients. We still use them today, but now we let other businesses use those templates to help their customers.
Release the fear of “If my customers and competition use my templates, they won’t need me!”
They will, they always do. First, just offering the templates does not necessarily show them how to use them. That’s your second product straight away. Second, you can reach so many more people online with template based products.
Take Envato for example, you can set up your logos and graphic templates to be sold on their marketplace. It is a drop in price and I’m not suggesting that’s your only option. But the proof is that people want templates.
It’s often said, people don’t buy the code, they buy the support. Anyone can program a theme and set it up. But updates, support and training are what people really need help with.
There’s no reason you can’t provide a consultation template pack with support, forum access and coaching calls, telling people how to use them.
6. Training and outsourcing staff
“If only there were 100 clones of me. Then I’d get so much done.”
If you’ve ever thought that, training staff might be the perfect route.
Here’s the deal – no employee salary and no expensive benefits. Just the staff and the results.
If you listed 100 things that you do with customers, I’d bet that at least 60% of them are repeatable, boring tasks. Data entry, report crafting, email support, invoicing etc.
When you have to do them, it’s a chore. Repeating the same task over and over. So why not get someone else to do that?
Outsourcing has become a beautiful, viable model for so many business tasks. If you talk to a customer and offer them reporting, email support, updates and SEO work. There’s no reason that process can’t be documented and handled by other staff.
By charging a recurring fee each month, part of that goes to pay the staff and part comes to you. Document repeated and monthly tasks, write them up as a checklist in Process.st and then outsource the job to virtual staff.
By having a documented process, you’ll fare much better with VA staff. You’ll also keep costs down because they don’t need to think, just act on your process.
7. Reselling other products
If there’s one thing we’re not short of, it’s products. If creating your own and selling them seems like a lot of work, search for products to re-sell.
You have almost infinite options when it comes to reselling products. You can find physical or virtual products. Services too, with lots of agencies looking to take on more work, but giving you a cut.
Reselling is similar to affiliate products, but the model is slightly different. We’ll get onto affiliate sales later.
Google “digital reseller products” to see the range of products available to start selling today.
For digital products specifically we’re looking for PLR products. Private Label Rights. These are products that others have built and created and are available for you to sell.
Rather than sign up to a huge re-seller commitment straight away, buy a few products and see what kind of revenue you can generate.
I’m a huge fan of using PLR products in funnels and as one time offer sales. Typically I’ve had trouble selling them for over $100 but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It’s all about how much time you’re willing to put into it.
Successful reselling means getting your offer and message right. If there’s a disconnect between the message going out to an audience and what that audience want’s, you won’t make any sales. In fact, this is true of ALL products and ALL sales.
Reselling products can also mean finding product sellers and helping them sell. Phone cases, exercise equipment, audio gear. Almost everything needs a distributor. There are a lot of routes through to this market from “drop-shipping” to manufacturing.
As those are closer to new business models, I’ve decided to focus on digital and service based reselling.
Finally, talk to your local network about becoming a distributor for their services. Lots of designers, coaches and developers are hesitant to “sell”. Which is a real shame, but a great opportunity for you. Taking 20% of a project cost for passing on some details and a worksheet seems good to me.
8. White-labelling products
White-labelling products (again, focusing on digital products and services) means another team builds and develops an app, software or product. You put your name and branding on top and charge per month.
Support is often provided by the other company, while you maintain the customer relationship.
There are 2 main choices with white-labelling. First is agency based white-label and second is app/product based white-label.
Agency based white-labelling means another agency (maybe even local), provides the actual work while you take a cut of the total cost. These can be one off or monthly projects.
Just Google “digital services whitelabel” and see what’s on offer, from other agencies. The customer only ever sees your name and brand. They interact with you. It’s like an elastic team that only costs when you use it.
On the other hand, app and software white-labelled products are built by other businesses. But sold and distributed under your name.
The beauty of white-labelled app and software products, is that the support is often carried out by the other company. Preventing you from spending time working on smaller issues.
It’s also often very scalable. Meaning you only pay for what you use.
9. Selling affiliate products
At this point I feel I should point out that reselling and white-labelling products often gets people very excited. However, you still need to market and sell those products.
They don’t come with messaging or sales copy. You need to understand what your audience wants and what you can provide. Often, businesses who discover WL or PLR (white-labelling or Private Label Rights) go nuts at the idea of adding 100 products to their suite.
But as Seth Godin says, “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers”. Make sure you’re still providing what your audience wants and not what you think is an easy sell.
So on that note, affiliate products.
For some reason, people seem to get a bit edgy about affiliate products. It seems to me that a few bad apples have spoilt the cart for everyone else.
The concept of affiliate products is that services or apps for example, need more customers. They’re willing to give a cut for every new sign up. Typically, we’re given a link that you have and your users click that link. If they sign up to the products, you’ll get a cut.
Most times, people are pretty upfront about the links being affiliate links. It doesn’t cost the customer any more than a regular purchase and it helps you out.
However some businesses have tried to pass off affiliate links as regular links, or even as their own product. Plugins and cloud apps have great opportunities for affiliate sales and can help your revenue. However you’re unlikely to make millions from it.
10. Email courses
If you can help a business get more traffic, or maybe you’re a branding guru and you want to create a course, don’t think you have to create a high investment course site to get course sales.
We can provide email courses to customers, for a price. Every week sending them a new lesson, video link and worksheet for them to complete.
The beauty of email courses, is that you can set them up in MailChimp (or whatever you use) and set the course to automate. With a few hidden pages on your site, and a worksheet for each lesson, you can send customers a new lesson every week.
Take the same concept as a course and focus on just 1 module. If you give 6 lessons per module, that’s a 6 week course.
Email courses make fantastic splinter products. They can be low cost, simple to create and introduce you to your customers.
Record a series of videos and transcribe the audio. Use the transcript in the email and create a worksheet to help customers get more from the content. You could password protect the video, but no need to get too complicated.
People AREN’T going to steal your content. It’s harder than it looks to rip off and sell/copy your work, especially content as it’s so easily tracked. If people REALLY want to copy your work, they’ll find a way.
Deliver one email a week, (maybe the first lesson immediately and the second one that week too) and try to catch up with your customers. Ask them what they liked and what works for them.
I absolutely love templates and pre-made content. Easily my favourite product to sell and it’s often the fastest to start using. The idea is that a $19 customer is still, a customer. It’s not a $15k website. But they HAVE spent money with you.
“Ah but Mike, I’m never going to make a $1 000 000 from selling $19 products.” I totally agree, I understand what you’re saying. I know a lot of businesses that felt the same way when we start to explain this process. But what we’ve found is that the small $19 products are only a first, new product. You’re going to release loads more products ranging from free to $250 000.
Also, the small products aren’t designed to make you millions. They’re designed to pay for the cost of traffic AND convert people into customers. You have an opportunity to blow people when they buy. Over deliver and let them fall in love with your products. If they felt that from a $19 eBook or course, imagine how they’d feel when they spend $1000 or $10 000!
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