Finding financial security is no longer about nailing down a job to work for the next 30+ years, then retiring with a pension. Instead, diversifying your earnings and taking control of your own financial destiny is the only path to true security. Creating multiple streams of income can also boost your career, teach you new skills, and is really fun to do.
After selling my own company I went on to diversify my income in nearly a dozen ways. I started offering consulting services, working as an advisor for several startups for either a monthly retainer fee or company shares, writing an ebook on growth hacking, and starting a small SaaS business.
But investing in real estate projects is my favorite way to diversify my earnings. Some of my past investments have included apartment complexes, land purchasing, and crowdfunding commercial real estate deals through websites such as RealtyMogul.com.
One of the most exciting things about diversifying your earnings and income is that there are so many ways to do it. The real problem is narrowing down your list to a handful that work with your interests and skills. Here's how 5 entrepreneurs diversified their earnings and made their own paths to success.
1. Andrew Warner
Mixergy founder Andrew Warner started building his business empire with an internet company called Bradford & Reed that produced a well-received email newsletter. The company did okay, but Warner and his brother-turned-business-partner wanted more from a business than just okay. They launched a system to create shareable electronic greeting cards. That business generated over $1 million a month, while Warner was in his 20s.
After working non-stop and finally burning out, Warner decided to sell his business and take time off before launching Mixergy. He started small by speaking at colleges and running Meetup groups and events. He eventually built up his online business to focus on interviewing successful entrepreneurs--most of whom also focused on income diversification and business building--and helped others learn the system for success.
2. Steve Chou
Steve Chou is a master of income diversification and focuses on everything from keeping a steady day job to running a successful Ecommerce store, building a popular blog called My Wife Quit Her Job, and launching a premium online course. Steve and his wife, Jennifer, launched their first business when searching for ways to make a living online so Jennifer could spend more time at home with their children.
Through idea validation and research, the Chous settled on high-end wedding linens before expanding into selling on Amazon. Although they weren't particularly passionate about linens, they wanted a business that was in demand with relatively low competition.
Chou teaches others how to set up their own Ecommerce stores, source products from overseas, run split-test conversions, and anything else that helps boost sales. He also runs a podcast where he interviews his successful students and other entrepreneurs on their insights to success.
3. Sarah Blakely
Spanx founder Sara Blakely took a common problem and turned it into a billion-dollar business. When she couldn't find the right undergarments to provide a streamlined look, she cut up some pantyhose and realized she was onto something big.
Blakely spent years researching and securing a patent while presenting her ideas to manufacturers. She was turned down repeatedly for her lack of experience, funding, and connections, but eventually a manufacturer with daughters softened his stance and helped her produce her first run.
Blakely credits much of her success to focusing on each challenge as it arose. When she landed a deal to sell her products in seven Neiman Marcus stores, she still had no idea how to mass-produce the final product. She also got a call from Oprah, wanting her to be on the show, even before she had an office or staff. Blakely figured it out as she went along, instead of planning for problems that didn't exist--and won big. Today, her company has expanded past undergarments to jeans, pants, and activewear.
4. Amir Elaguizy
Cratejoy co-founder Amir Elaguizy democratized the subscription-model business with an easy-to-use platform for entrepreneurs who wanted to quickly build their businesses. Before co-founding Cratejoy, Elaguizy was a founder and CTO of MarketZero, which was later acquired by Zynga. He's also worked as a game CTO to help build Zynga Poker and Zynga Bingo. Cratejoy diversified its own earnings by charging a flat monthly rate along with a small transaction fee.
Cratejoy's rapid success is largely due to Elaguizy's commitment to customer retention. While most entrepreneurs focus on retention, Elaguizy knows that teaching his Cratejoy customers about retention in their own businesses helps both of their bottom lines. To simplify the process, Cratejoy offers its subscribers tools and resources to help them better understand and maximize their retention rates.
5. Ramit Sethi
Ramit Sethi started giving talks on personal finance and wealth while still in college--and without any credibility. Fortunately, he was stubborn and kept studying his methods, results, and the psychology of why people buy. Sethi managed to produce an e-book that sold for $4.95, and he realized that if he could earn residual income--even if it was the equivalent of coffee money--he could scale the process into millions.
Sethi has grown his I Will Teach You to Be Rich blog into a multi-million dollar empire, offering everything from e-books and podcasts, to video courses and consulting services. He's also a New York Times bestselling author, and provides free resources on finding profitable ideas, salary negotiation, and overnight resume makeovers.
All of these entrepreneurs are successful for different reasons, but all have one very important thing in common: they started from nearly nothing and worked their way up by leveraging the skills they had, or by filling a gap in the marketplace.
Follow their lead by starting small with your own earnings diversification strategy. Start by renting out something you own, like a spare bedroom or bike, and work your way up to launching your own side business.
What are some of your favorite ways to diversify your earnings? Let me know by leaving a comment below.