Many dream of leaving corporate life to become an entrepreneur. The call for independence, both from "The Man" and financially, is strong. For those wanting to hang up a shingle and live off their accumulated expertise, it can be daunting though. It sounds great, but how, really, do you do it?
I recently shared the 11 streams of income I created by monetizing my expertise in my post corporate life, so it's certainly something that can be done, and at a level that creates financial independence. Specifically, building a multistream revenue-creation model requires building the seven habits that follow.
1. Ask first whom you can serve, not what you can sell.
The latter flows from the former. Many wanting to monetize their expertise focus first on the product they can sell. What form should it take? Should I write a book? Become a speaker? That comes after determining whom to serve and what you know that would serve them well. Having a clear picture of your target audience means you know whom you won't be selling to. That's a big first step, as often when I ask wantrepreneurs, "Who's your target audience?" I hear, "Anyone with a dollar!"
It doesn't work that way.
Once you know whom you can serve, then figure out what unmet needs and wants they have, what burning problems they have that must be solved. In this way you're filling a hole and creating demand for your expertise versus hawking mere common knowledge or solving a problem nobody has. Only after achieving this clarity should you figure out what vehicle your offering should be encased in (book, blog, keynote, etc.).
2. Play the short and long game in your portfolio.
Having a robust portfolio of income streams requires habitually balancing things that bring short-term benefit (fast revenue) with longer-term plays (which build your brand and deliver financial returns further down the road). You need both to pay today's bills and create tomorrow's riches.
For example, plenty of people want to write a book, which takes time (two years on average). If your book does reasonably well, it's a great platform for big-ticket revenue items like keynotes. But in the meantime, you have bills to pay, so maybe you write for an online publication, create concise online courses, or do some short-term consulting gigs. You get the idea.
3. Even breadth requires focus and hard choices.
It's wise to spread your bets when trying to achieve financial independence, to a point. Even in creating different streams of income, I've had to make hard choices. I've opted out of heavy email list building, podcasting, and some consulting gigs, for example, to focus on activities that better fit together and support my business model and interests. Articles I write generate income but also get me keynotes and give me fodder for more books and courses, which give me more opportunities to keynote, and so on.
Do what you enjoy, and blend your revenue-generating activities into a broader, integrated plan.
4. Stay present to your network.
Believe it or not, when I left corporate to become a speaker, writer, etc., I wasn't on Facebook and barely on LinkedIn. I was about to lose touch with all the contacts and relationships I had built up over a three-decade career. As it turns out, 80 percent of my business in the first few years post-corporate came from past contacts.
So stay committed to stay in front of your network, providing value as you do.
5. Get over your distaste for "selling yourself."
I absolutely hated selling books, courses, etc., to my email list and social following in the beginning--until I realized that I have great value to provide. There's nothing wrong with being compensated for that value to make a living (people understand that). If you don't promote yourself, your expertise will stay buried with you.
6. Repurpose content.
This should be the first habit you establish. Content I've created for my books has been reframed and repurposed for online courses, classes, keynotes, and articles, just to name a few of the reapplications. Be organized and archive your work in a way that makes it easy for you to remember and reuse. And remember your ABCs: Always Be Creating (content).
7. Build it and believe they'll come.
Many people don't monetize their expertise because they undervalue it. What's obvious to you isn't to others. Have faith in what you create and develop the habit of telling yourself repeatedly that if you build it (well, based on understanding of your target audience), they will come. On those occasions when they don't, learn why and press forward.
So be wise and you'll monetize.