When it comes to business, cash flow is king. As Simon Sinek explains, if your company is the car within your business, then money is the fuel that gets your car to from Point A to Point B. Without it, you'll run out of gas quickly and be forced to close your company doors.
Despite this, the majority of material online only provides entrepreneurs with three options when it comes to generating revenue: venture capital, taking out a business loan, or bootstrapping (which most authors online seem to define as "taking money from your wealthy relatives or friends").
For the rest of who either don't have access to these resources, don't want to get into exorbitant debt, or don't want others controlling crucial business decisions as an investor would, here are six creative ways to keep cash rolling in:
1. Selling Merchandise
Selling merchandise is something a lot of brands are doing, but few are doing well. When it comes to apparel, stickers and more, it's important to remember that the message matters most, not your logo.
For instance, as large as Gary Vaynerchuk's personal brand is, the t-shirts of his that people love to wear centers around his concept of "hustle". It's one of the messages he preaches that his followers can rally behind.
What message or mission do you embody within your own company? Chances are, it will result in more t-shirt and sticker sales than one that simply has your logo slapped on it.
Pro Tip: To avoid unnecessary costs on inventory for merchandise, consider using a platform like TeePublic or RedBubble to order on demand.
2. Developing Info Products
Info products are a great way to bolster your thought leadership online while simultaneously reeling in some recurring revenue. If you'd like to leverage info products, take some time to write down a list of the most common questions your audience or customers ask you on a regular basis.
Then, write an e-book or create an online course answering those same questions in detail. After, set up a shop on your website where you sell these products to capitalize on the attention.
3. Striking Sponsorship Deals
When people think of sponsorship deals, they immediately think of LeBron James striking a deal with Nike, Tiger Woods with Wheaties or something similar. Yet, when it comes to sponsorship deals, the sky truly is the limit if you're creative enough.
For instance, if you're a public speaker, reach out to apparel companies or lifestyle brands you resonate with and see if they'll sponsor you if you wear their clothing at your next big gig. If you're a graphic designer, see if you can exchange services with a local coworking space by trading designs for a reduced rate on rent.
This way, you'll be freeing your wallet up a bit to use elsewhere in your business.
4. Creating a Premium Newsletter Behind a Paywall
This technically is also an info product, but it deserves its own bullet point. If you've got a decent amount of followers online or loyal customers, create an exclusive newsletter where you provide your most actionable strategies and industry secrets.
Charge users whatever you feel most comfortable with, whether that's $10 per month or $100 per month. If people are willing to pay for your knowledge on a recurring basis, you'll have consistent money coming in--and you'll increase the chances that these subscribers will eventually become paying customers for your primary service (if they aren't already).
5. Using Crowdfunding
Using Kickstarter, Indiegogo or another crowdfunding platform could be another way to boost revenue for you and your team. While many people think these platforms are used primarily for launching physical products, in reality there are (almost) no rules for what you can get funded.
For instance, Philadelphia hip-hop artist Lil Dicky used Kickstarter to fund the creation of his entire first album and nation-wide tour. If you need some extra cash to hire your next rockstar employee, be honest and upfront about it and if your mission resonates with audiences, you just might be able to get it paid for through crowdfunding.
6. Offering Consulting Services
If you're a successful or aspiring entrepreneur, you're probably very competent at a skill set. Whatever that skill set is, there are people who would pay you to teach them how to get better at it. Plain and simple. Because of this, create a page on your website dedicated strictly to consulting services.
In the business world, you've always got to keep the cash rolling in. In addition to the more traditional methods of financing, this year try getting a bit more creative. It might be exactly what your business needs. Best of luck.