How to “Make it Pay”: The 5-Stage Business Model
There are many ways to structure a one-person business (sometimes called a micro-business), but I’d like to share a profitable business model that can be started debt-free. I discovered this path while developing my own business, and have further refined it through teaching it and seeing how it works in other small businesses.
There are five stages in the process: Do, Share, Teach, Package, and Multiply. It’s possible to earn a living without going past the first stage, but each stage beyond that can build addition streams of income and increase your financial stability. Let’s take a closer look at each stage:
Choose something that matters to you; something you find delightful– we’ll call it your Task. It can be anything– writing, travel, fishing, bookkeeping, car detailing or repair, baking, scrapbooking, building, sewing, stock trading, party planning, calligraphy, child care, gardening, music, housekeeping, fitness, painting, tree climbing, proofreading, antique restoration, photography–whatever you enjoy and do well.
Learn to do it well enough to base a business up by reading both widely and deeply about it, taking classes, doing it for fun, doing it for free, and practicing it in many different situations and settings until you’re very good at it. At this point, your business will consist of doing your Task for others. The main thing to remember is that if the Task you choose is not meaningful or enjoyable, you’ll have a hard time devoting the hours it takes to get started and build your business to profitability.
The better you get at your chosen Task, the more opportunities you’ll find to share it. In the early stages of building your skills, sharing will help lend purpose to your practice. You can volunteer your skills within your circle of family and friends, or in the community with a church, service group, or charity. This provides not only meaningful and realistic practice, but also real-life feedback and a growing audience of potential customers or clients. Once you can do it very well, you can begin sharing in paid venues.
You can also share your Task by communicating about it. You can speak about it, blog it on your own blog or for others, show it in photographs, take videos of the process, tweet tips, share it in a newsletter, or offer in-person tours. If you share online, you can easily create passive income by hosting AdSense or other discreet ads on your blog and sharing resources you use and love through appropriate affiliate links. Sharing is a stage that creates income while marketing your skills in a positive, organic way.
When you’ve been doing and sharing your Task long enough to be confident of your skills, it may be time to begin teaching in your community or online. Always begin small so you can hone your class materials and teaching skills before tackling a big teaching gig.
Good places to find teaching opportunities include county parks and recreation departments, service clubs, senior centers, stores that sell supplies for your Task, and non-credit learning programs offered by colleges. These don’t usually pay a lot, but teaching adds another stream of income and builds your reputation as an expert in your Task. If you like the teaching stage, you may decide to focus on this stage and teach in increasingly large venues.
Packaging allows you to do your Task once and sell it forever. You can package instructions for doing your Task, stories about it, or tips for getting better at it in a book, pattern, kit, audio CD, DVD, or other reproducible media. Once you’ve created the product, its delivery can be as passive as you choose if you outsource manufacturing and shipping. You may want to begin by doing it yourself, but when you are ready to grow and build passive income, you’ll need to outsource.
Finally, once you have found your Task and successfully walked through each of the first four stages, you’ll understand how to make your business grow. Sometimes multiplying simply means to do more in your favorite stage, and sometimes it means adding new tracks in all the stages. Here are ways you could multiply each of the first four stages:
- Do: Add a new product, service, or design; hire a helper; outsource low-level or basic tasks.
- Share: Find new writing or speaking venues; build your blog or website to increase ad and affiliate revenue; start a second blog on a related or different topic.
- Teach: Offer new classes; create an advanced workshop series; teach in more places; try different teaching formats (seminar, class, workshop, retreat, mastermind).
- Package: Create more products about different facets of your Task; offer them in all available formats both tangible and electronic.
The 5-Stage Business Model can help you create a one-person business, debt free, and earn what you need, doing what you love, from wherever you are. What will your micro-business be?