Is one of your business goals to scale your business this year?
Scaling your business means growing the revenue in your business without spending more time (or significantly more time). It is sometimes referred to as passive income, but that suggests you don’t need to do anything. In fact, there are very few revenue streams which can truly be classified as passive income. These usually involve investing a significant amount of money in order to generate income, eg investments in equity, bonds etc.
None of the 9 ideas I am sharing with you to scale your business involve upfront capital (or not much). But they do require an investment of time. The benefit of these ideas though is the amount of money you can earn from that time is unlimited.
1. Add an Online Course
There has been an explosion in both the availability and demand for online courses over the past few years. People have become very used to learning online.
Online courses allow students to learn at their own pace. You record the material and they can access it whenever and wherever they want to. Some courses have a live element to them, but you don’t have to include this. Even if you do, there is little additional effort or cost between teaching online to a few people and a few thousand.
What can you launch a course on? It could be on anything! It doesn’t have to be related to the business you run, although it may be easier to promote if it is as you already have an audience who might be interested in buying it.
The course can be made up of videos, slides, pdfs, audios, workbooks, etc. If you are using video you can record on your phone or computer. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive equipment when you first start out (although you may wish to buy a separate mic and a ringlight or softbox if you are going to be on camera). canva.com is a good free option for creating slides, workbooks, pdfs etc. You can even present using canva and record your screen.
Once you have created your course you need to “host” it somewhere that people can access. You also need to be able to take payment to give access to the course. Whilst you could just invoice and manually send the files by email, that is not really scalable. Other, more scaleable, options include:
- Selling through a course platform like Udemy. These take a significant commission but they make it very easy to set up and they promote your course for you too.
- Running the course on your website (we like and use LearnDash which can be combined with WooCommerce for payment) so when someone pays they get a login and immediate access to all the content. It can be designed to look like the rest of your website (if you want)
- hosting on an “all in one” course solution like Kajabi, Teachable, etc. These host (ie store) the course on their own servers and use their own templates. They tend to be easier to set up than your website but can work out quite expensive
Of course you can always start with one and then change to another. Check that you continue to own the content if you use anything other than your website.
Once you have created the course and chosen somewhere to host it, you need to promote it to get people buying. It’s not going to sell itself!
A masterclass is a one off “live teach” held online.
You promote the class ahead of time. You can also sell the recording in a similar way to an online course. Like an online course, there is no limit to the number of people you can have on the masterclass (although you may need to pay a bit more for capacity on the service you use).
As a live teach there are different ways of running the masterclass. You need a means of taking payment, a way of notifying participants about accessing the class and then a means of streaming the class.
The more scaleable methods would involve taking payment on your website or a course platform. This would trigger sending an email (either immediately or shortly before the class) with the streaming details. You can use a private social media group (although I suspect this is against the rules of most of them) or zoom (or similar) to stream the class. You can email the recording or store it on youtube, vimeo or similar and provide the link to those who have bought the masterclass. Alternatively you could store it on your website (either as a password protected page, course or membership page) or a course/membership platform.
You want to automate this process as much as possible to make it scaleable. And definitely do a test run of the tech before hand!
3. Group Programme
A group programme is similar to a course but it usually involves a group of people going through the programme together in a “class” or “cohort”.
There are many different ways of running a group programme. You can give access to all the material at once, or you can drip feed the material over time. You could pre-record the material or you could teach some or all of it live (giving access to a recording for anyone unable to participate live or wanting to watch it again).
The key is that there is interaction between members of the group and with the person running it too. That might involve some kind of forum or social media group where people can ask questions related to the programme. It might involve a weekly q&a or coaching with you running it.
Whilst a group programme is very scaleable, it can involve a significant amount of time to run and there is a limit to the number of people you can really have in any one programme unless you involve associate coaches. But it can be a very lucrative way to scale your business.
In many ways a membership is just a continuous group programme. Members pay a regular subscription for continuous access to the membership. I have also seen memberships where people make a one-off payment to join for “life”.
A membership can provide access to a bank of resources, live teaching/coaching and/or access to a forum or social media group to ask questions or for support. The best memberships feel like a community of people all looking out for each other under the leadership of a “guide”. That’s why people tend to stay.
With the need to keep it going and feeling fresh, a membership can be a significant undertaking. But the number of people in the membership can be unlimited so it is a very scaleable option.
Memberships can be run through your website. We’ve set up a few for clients ranging from coaching memberships to a sound club (nourishbynaomi.com/the-sound-club). Members can sign up online, give their payment details and get automatic access. Going forward they can then login via the website to get access to the resources. You can add a Facebook group or other social media group for support too.
I’ve also seen memberships run through platforms like kajabi and forums like circle. Again these take payment and give access. Less low tech is to manually invoice and use something like a Facebook group. I wouldn’t recommend this route for long or for larger numbers as it is not sustainable or scaleable.
5. Write a Book
Writing a book is another way to share your knowledge and get paid for it.
A book is a more “passive” source of income than a group programme or membership. Once written, it just needs promoting.
You can self publish or get a publisher. You can choose to have print runs or print on demand. The likes of Amazon will list your book, print on demand and send it out for you. Makes it easy.
Whilst it does need promoting to generate revenue, there is no limit to the number of books that can be printed and sold. It is truly scaleable.
A book can also be a good way to promote some of your other offerings like a course or your 1:1 services. And the content of a book can be repurposed into blog posts, social media etc.
6. Digital downloads
You don’t necessarily need to write a whole book and get it published. You can sell e-books or pdfs that can be downloaded. It can be set up to take payment through your website and give immediate access to the download. That is not difficult to set up.
There are other kinds of digital downloads you could sell. You could sell templates, workbooks, planners etc. In addition to selling these on your website you could sell through a third party like Etsy. There are many designers in particular who have used this route to scale their business.
An alternative way to scale your business is to keep doing what you do but bring on others to deliver your service as a sub-contractor. You would pay them less than you’re receiving from the client, making a profit.
This would allow you to serve more clients without spending more time. Indeed this is the way most businesses scale.
Of course you need to manage each sub-contractor (and potentially the client too).
There are lots of ways to do this. They could be an employee in which case you will need to pay them whether there are the clients to serve or not. Or they can be on some kind of freelance contract where they work for you on a client by client basis. Of course they can then work for others (or themselves) when they’re not working for you.
These people are representing you in providing the service so you do need to make sure that you’re happy with the way they do it. It is your reputation on the line! And always make sure you have a contract in place in case there are any issues.
Sell a physical product
Creating a physical product, selling it online and dropshipping is another way to scale your business.
Of course this only works if the product does not require a significant amount of time to make each one. It might be an item you have designed but is made elsewhere. Otherwise it is not scaleable in the same way (of course it may still be profitable to do this).
You can list your product on a platform like Amazon, Etsy, etc and get someone else to send out the products. There are many people designing products, getting them made overseas and shipped directly to Amazon who send them out to customers for you – without you ever seeing the product (let alone have it take over your house!).
Alternatively you could sell products that someone else has made but are complementary to what you do. For example, a massage therapist might sell candles etc.
Affiliate marketing is where you get a commission from selling someone else’s product or service. It is another way to scale your business.
You promote these with an affiliate link, taking a commission in the process. You should, of course, declare that you are taking a commission.
One of the easiest (and most ethical) ways to earn affiliate income is to sign up for an affiliate scheme for tools you already use and would recommend to others in any event. We use and recommend Siteground for website hosting (that’s an affiliate link!). We would recommend Siteground without any commission as our research has shown this to be the best value option for the kind of businesses we work with. Getting a commission if someone uses our link is an additional benefit.
Of course you can get affiliate links for tools or products that you don’t use which would also give you a commission. You’re effectively giving space for ads and getting a return for doing so.
Whilst this is a very easy form of income, for most businesses the sums you can earn this way are very small.
Larger sums can be gained by selling other people’s programmes to your audience by “being an affiliate”. Many business coaches rely upon affiliates to sell their courses or programmes. You usually have to offer something additional to persuade people to buy the programme through you rather than someone else. Many people offer a course of their own, VIP day, power hour etc as the incentive. Unless this is a 1:1 offer it is, of course, scaleable.
The sums available for being an affiliate for someone else’s programme can be considerable. Because the cost of their programme can be considerable. I would caution that you should believe strongly in their programme (ideally by having been a client on this or another similar programme run by that coach before) if you are selling it to your audience, otherwise you can easily lose that hard earned trust you have built up!
There are many ways to scale your business. The amount of effort involved upfront and on an ongoing basis, as well as the earnings potential varies a lot between the options.
- set up an online course
- run a masterclass (and potentially sell the recording afterwards too)
- run a Group programme
- set up a membership
- write and sell a book
- sell digital downloads
- employ others to serve your clients, making a profit
- design/create and sell a physical product and
- sign up as an affiliate and sell someone else’s product or service for a commission
Whilst these all allow you to scale your business, you still need to promote these or you’ll find the income dries up pretty quickly!
Which are you going to add to your business this year?