As Canadian business owners – we’ve all learned countless lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have personally spoken to businesses in the past 2 months that have ranged from thriving, to struggling, to bankrupt depending on the industry. But one thing is for sure, brick and mortar business owners have been hit hard through this pandemic. Small business owners who once felt untouchable are now stressed, scared and worried about the future of their business. Family owned businesses that have been in business for 30 plus years and were in good financial shape, are now on the verge of bankruptcy, or closed for good. I think we can safely say that all business owners need to re-evaluate their business financials, strategies and goals, not only to get through COVID-19, but to prepare for the new business normal after COVID-19. We need to be more prepared. We need to rise above and find a way to change with the times and to our new reality. One of the top lessons most brick and mortar businesses have learned due to the Coronavirus outbreak, is that they need to find a way to digitize their business by adding an e-commerce website to be able to continue selling their products and services online. That is certainly a great addition to any business (and I’d love to help you set up a quality e-commerce store if you’re a business owner at that point) , but what if you’re not interested in shipping your physical products across the country? How can small business owners find a way to survive the storm if (knock on wood) they were to be closed down completely for another month? Or two? Or three? The answer is, PASSIVE INCOME. Brick and mortar businesses need to find a way to generate passive income digitally to help them weather the storm. Just like investing, we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket, or we risk losing it all the minute something significant changes. We need to generate revenue through a variety of sources to allow us to have a continuous income stream even when times get tough.
What is passive income?
Passive income is income that requires little to no effort to earn and maintain. An example might be someone who writes an e-book on a particular topic and sells it over and over again. They’ve only spent the time to write the book once, and now they’re able to sell it over and over again for possibly years to come to different customers that have interest in that particular topic. This one e-book, will likely not be the only source of revenue that business would have, but the income generated from it, and any future e-books they decide to add to their collection, might just add up to a significant recurring source of income for their business.
3 ways brick and mortar businesses can generate passive income online
Just because you own a physical store location that may sell physical goods, or provide in person services, doesn’t mean that you can’t generate income from other digital products to compliment your line of business. Sometimes we need to think outside the box and take some risks to start seeing rewards, but I wholeheartedly believe there is an opportunity in almost any industry to generate passive income online. Below you will find the top 3 ways businesses are generating passive income online. As you read through the different ways to generate online income, think about how you might be able to apply them to compliment your brick and mortar business.
1. Online Courses
Regardless of what type of business you run, you have expertise in something. Creating digital course content that can be sold over and over again is one of the top ways people are generating passive income for their businesses in Canada. In fact, many businesses generate all of their revenue via online course content. Maybe you own a hair salon, and during the COVID-19 closures you see all the awful haircut before and afters on Tik Tok, Instagram and Youtube. Could you create a course or how to guide for DIY hair cuts at home for men, women and children? You might think to yourself, why would someone pay for this course when they can easily find free instructional videos on Youtube? Here’s why: As a brick and mortar business – you have an unfair advantage to these random Youtube videos. You have the expertise, but you also have the trust and loyalty of your existing hair salon clients who would be more than willing to support you by paying you $5, or $10, or $20 to watch a step by step on how NOT to give their 12 year old son a bowl cut. Own a restaurant? While many restaurants (in Ontario anyway) were able to continue running to some degree, restaurant owners are still feeling the pinch big time during this pandemic. More people are cooking at home and missing their favourite take-out. Could you provide online courses to show people how to make that perfect pizza crust or your secret spicy sauce recipe?
The point is, every business is different but there’s usually a way to be able to create some sort of ongoing course content that would be accessible to purchase and watch online. We then use an e-learning platform to integrate with your existing website that will allow you to restrict access to your courses until an online payment has been made. The e-learning platform I typically use when designing client websites, allows us to add video course content, but also the ability to add quizzes to test knowledge and award certificates for completion, implement course progression requirements and so much more. Think about how you might be able to utilize online courses for your business.
2. Online Subscription Memberships
Similar, yet different to online courses, subscription memberships allow you to restrict access to certain content until a subscription fee has been paid. Millions of businesses use subscription memberships to give access to a plethora of different types of content. You often see subscription membership websites with online newspapers. Some charge you to access their articles after you’ve hit your limit, others might require you to register. But there are so many other possibilities for subscription membership websites. Do you own a gym? Could you provide restricted access to fitness articles, nutrition plans, or possibly a combination of fitness video courses that could be done at home and fitness and nutrition articles and tips? Do you own a niche business, like a record or comic book store? Even better! Niche businesses are usually the most successful at being able to gain subscriptions to their content because they have die hard and loyal customers that are willing to pay a small subscription fee to have access to your expertise.
Really any content can be restricted on a website with a membership platform. Blog articles, courses, video content, premium information, clubs, forums – the list goes on and on. How can you create content, clubs or memberships that would be valuable in your line of business?
3. Digital Downloads
Digital downloads allow a website visitor to digitally download content provided by you for a fee. This could be an e-book, a pdf document, music files, image files, videos and more. Some examples of this might be, custom instruction manuals, secret recipes, selling of your professional photography or videography, printable templates (think invitations; kids math, writing or colouring pages), sewing or knitting patterns, architectural drawings, resume templates, social media templates, website design templates, graphic design elements or fonts. The ideas for digital downloads are endless but can be a fantastic source of passive income for your small business.
Why would people pay for your content or courses?
Have you ever been at a (pre-covid-19) social gathering and get chatting with someone that works in a specific industry and ask them all the insider questions you have an interest in learning about? Maybe it’s a Real Estate Agent, and you ask them about what home renovations you should do to boost your home value. You ask them these questions because you consider them to be experts in their industry, who know more than you do about increasing the re-sale value of your home. Guess what? You are the expert in your industry who knows more than the average person about whatever you specialize in. Find a way to monetize that expertise by providing valuable content to your consumers at a reasonable price and you’ve now begun to tap in to how to create passive online income for your business.
How do businesses start generating passive income online?
To generate passive income online you’ll need at least 2 things:
- Investment of your time. You’ll need time to create the content you want to sell. However, the content you spend time creating should be content that is somewhat timeless and can be purchased over and over again without creating it again and again.
- Investment of some money. It takes money to make money, this is true. The financial investment into creating content to sell can be anywhere from small to large. You might choose to record video content yourself, or hire a videographer, for example. You’ll also need to invest in a website plugin for WordPress or an app subscription for Shopify to be able to sell your content online, and possibly hire a website designer to implement the changes on your existing website, or build a separate website to sell your new digital products or courses if you’re not able to set it up yourself.
Creating your digital product doesn’t have to be difficult. Start small, with one or 2 items and see how it goes, allow time to grow your library of digital goods. Connect with me to chat about how to best implement something like this for your business. I always have a thousand ideas twirling around in my head, maybe one of them will help point you in the right direction.
When I develop branding and websites for clients, my prime objective is always to help their business to be successful on and offline. I’d love to share your experience of how your brick and mortar business has been able to find success by amending your business strategies during COVID-19 – drop a comment below to let me know!