Instant gratification. For some people, it’s a lifestyle. For business owners, it can be a trap.
I see instant gratification in business terms as a deal or a project that makes you money right now. Nothing wrong with that – we’ve all got to keep the lights on and food in the cupboard. And in the early days, it’s essential. You’ve got a reputation to build. But if you run your business solely on the instant gratification principle, you could find that you’re working constantly. That’s hard on you and it’s hard on your family.
In my early business years, I was 100% active income girl. It was what I understood, what I was comfortable with, and where the money was. I worked days, nights, weekends, scrabbled through the odd vacation, and took a lot of phone calls while traveling. I also used to travel with a mini-office. I had a box full of office supplies, so that in the worst-case scenario I could prep documents and send them by Priority Mail or UPS to a client. I did wind up doing that a couple of times!
As the business grew though, so too did the demands on my time. Hiring staff helped to a degree, but I still found that I was doing the bulk of the everyday work. That’s when I began taking a look at the residual side of things.
For me, what I see as residual things are products and books – basically packaging knowledge into a tangible format, and selling it to consumers. Write it once, sell it a thousand times kind of stuff.
Creating that passive income stream has become a goal for me. I’ve had some great encouragement along the way. One of the first products I created went off like a rocket, and I saw some really healthy income, at least until the economy went into free-fall. Things went up and down, and are currently stabilizing, with slow, but steady growth.
The downside to passive income though is that you’ve got to delay gratification. It takes time to create products, and that’s time you won’t be working (and earning). For me, that means either rearranging my schedule every now and then so I disappear for a few days, or working some very long hours, as I take care of business in the daytime and take care of the future in the evenings. It also means being aware that everything I write potentially has a larger purpose.
Is there a financial component of product creation? You bet. There’s time out of your working day, or your evenings. Depending on your delivery method you’ll also have out-of-pocket costs. Those can range from a few hundred, if you’re creating a sales website and maybe some downloads, or CDs, to thousands of dollars, if you’re trying to publish a book. Plus the build is slow. Rarely do you create a product and have instant success. There’s market building and advertising to think about, meaning more time + more costs.
I think the only way to look at those is as investment costs – you’re investing time, money (and likely both) up front, so you can have some time, money (and hopefully both), down the road, at least that’s what I tell myself at 2am when I’m working on a project.
There’s another investment element to think about, too. Products become a marketing tool you can use in your business. An eBook on a topic you’ve got knowledge about can easily help to establish you as an industry leader. Do you give it away? Why not – especially if it’s going to lead to a sale worth 5x what you charge for the eBook.
As business owners, we carry so much in our heads – and much of that has value. Getting that knowledge out of your head is perhaps the first step towards creating a whole new income stream, and an increased business presence. Yeah, you’ll spend some time, but isn’t that why we invented TiVo?