Business Management / Finance

5 secondary streams of income for business owners to explore

Jessica Thiefels

Updated: Nov 23, 2019 · 5 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

extra income for business owners

In this modern economy, the culture of “side hustling” has rapidly become the norm. In fact, more than 44 million Americans work a side hustle in addition to their full-time career, and an estimated 36 percent earn upwards of $500 a month from that secondary income.

This can be a smart and effective way for entrepreneurs to fund their business ventures too—especially considering that 65 percent of self-made millionaires earn three streams of income, 45 percent earn four streams, and 29 percent earn at least five streams, according to Inc. Having extra income for business owners is smart for anyone looking to build wealth, especially those who are cash strapped as they build a small business.

A secondary stream of income allows you to stay liquid and grow your projects without the added financial stress and the good news is: whatever your niche, there’s a potential for extra cash-flow. Here are five secondary income streams to consider as your entrepreneurial ambitions begin to take shape.

Turn your hobby into an Etsy shop

If you’re a creator with handmade items or digital prints to sell, Etsy can be a lucrative platform to launch your ecommerce side hustle. In 2018, this artisan marketplace reached 39.4 million active consumers worldwide, and about 40 percent were repeat buyers, according to Statista.

This second income stream does come with overhead costs, however. NerdWallet explains that Etsy charges 20 cents to list a product and then collects 3.5 percent of the profit for each sale. In addition, the Etsy Payment transaction processor is another 3 percent of the sale, plus 25 cents. Those fees exclude shipping costs—plus, Etsy recommends that you earmark 25 percent for taxes.

While it can be a costly venture, as a creative, this side hustle provides you with another outlet to design and test new products while making money—a win-win.

Rent your home to vacationers

If you own property in a location zoned for short-term vacation rentals, you can become a host on AirBnB. Consider that AirBnB hosts earn an average of $924 each month which is three times more income than workers tend to earn on other “sharing economy” websites. Even on the low-end, 50 percent of all AirBnB hosts earn over $500 per month, according to Priceonomics.

The AirBnB website has a breakdown of local regulations, tax ordinances and license procedures for 50 cities in the U.S. Use this resource as a starting point, so you can determine what the policies and regulations you’ll need to follow. You’ll also find useful information to help maximize home safety, adhere to neighborhood rules and streamline guest access.

Note that AirBnB charges its hosts a 3 percent fee to process each booking transaction as you consider the costs associated with this secondary income stream. Now all you need is an extra place to stay!

Sell your industry expertise online

As an expert in your field—you may already have everything you need to develop a second stream of income. “One of your most valuable assets with businesses taking off right now if your knowledge. Have it work for you by selling your expertise online. Whether it’s teaching a language, training people in marketing or practically anything else, you can turn a steady profit with online education,” suggests ecommerce experts at Selz.

There are numerous ways to package and monetize what you know, including:

  • Publish an ebook
  • Create a paid webinar
  • Develop and sell a course
  • Offer a newsletter subscription
  • Record a podcast

You may be skeptical that anyone would be interested in learning from you, but the online education industry is poised to exceed $240 billion in revenue by 2021, reports Global Industry Analysts. This means, there’s a space for you to share your knowledge and a market of people who want to consume it.

While it does require consistent time and effort to create, launch, and promote your content, the potential for monetary success is extensive. Business Insider tells the story of a former math teacher from England. He decided to turn his expertise on coding into an online course, which earned him $15,000 in the first month alone. He has since netted more than $1 million in profits overall.

Leverage your skills as a freelance consultant

An estimated 63 percent of companies outsource some of their work to freelancers instead of hiring someone full-time to perform the same functions, according to Upwork's Future of Work report.

Freelance or consulting work is another simple way to generate an extra income stream with the knowledge and skills you already have. It also keeps you from getting involved with a contract and job that pays less if you were to do it in a full-time role. In fact, as of 2017, the median hourly rate of an independent contractor in the U.S. was $31, versus $26.30 for a full-time employee, as reported by The Balance SMB.

Find clients through your current network, along with sites like UpWork, to build a base of income you can rely on.

Deliver Take-Out in Your Spare Time

This may not be the sexiest way to earn a secondary stream of income, but it’s popular and readily available for anyone with a car thanks to more and more rideshare companies expanding into food delivery. It’s also convenient and easy: simply deliver take-out orders within a close radius to where you live. USA Today collected data from Glassdoor and Indeed, and uncovered average hourly earning potential from some of the most popular delivery services:

  • GrubHub: $11.05 to $12
  • Uber Eats: $10 to $15.57
  • DoorDash: $10 to $17.74
  • Postmates $13.64 to $19.97

Just choose how many orders you want to accept, how many hours each week you prefer to work, and the number of miles you’re willing to drive.

Find your secondary income stream

Use this as a guide to find a second (or third or fourth) stream of income as a business owner. With less financial stability, you can grow your business with less stress and more financial resources, while building wealth the same way many self-made millionaires of the world have.

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