The changing realities of the working world are pushing people to become multiple income stream managers. While many are finding ways to adapt, countless others are struggling to keep up the pace to create, produce, and build enough to pay the bills.
Diversity in Income is the New Normal
If I could choose just one word to encapsulate the first decade of the new millennium it's change. As computing, communications, and mobile-based technologies began to develop and evolve, with greater, more outstanding enhancements and shorter product cycles, I believe that they pulled the rest of the world along. Now almost everything these days is in a state of flux.
The business world is both a reflection and catalyst of this trend. Businesses are hiring and firing, restructuring and growing, employees come and go, and the pace of it all is dizzying. The recent economic difficulties just put more fuel on the fire (remember that Billy Joel song?) Managing multiple sources of income has fast become a necessity, a contrived cushion against all the uncertainty that comes along with change.
A few weeks ago I wrote the post the Moonlighter's Survival Guide, which was primarily directed at those who have a permanent full-time or part-time position, but who are also a running something on the side. This current post is written for those who have made managing multiple income streams their focus and way of life (as well as for those who are contemplating such a lifestyle).
10 Tips for Small Business Owners to Avoid Burnout While Juggling Multiple Streams of Income
1. Before anything... survey the situation. There are three main questions that you need to answer before taking on multiple sources of income or proceeding further with your financial goals: What are your goals and needs? What are your available resources, skills, experiences? And, if you are considering starting your own business, whether online or off, do you really want to be doing this?
Keep in mind, there are several low-impact ways to generate passive income that have nothing to do with running a business or website. You could, for example, invest in peer-to-peer microloans and get an average 9% return on your money. My point: the entrepreneurial route is not for everyone. You don't need to have a blog, start an online store, or sell things on eBay. But you do have to stay true to yourself and your unique situation in life.
2. Be realistic. Keep in mind that passive income often takes a lot of prior input and action. You have to budget enough time for a project to start generating income, and this means making sure there is other income to cover you in the interim. Just this alone can help reduce a mountain of stress.
3. Build slowly, one project at a time. Many people make the mistake of jumping right in, starting up several projects at once. Due to the limited time and attention they can direct to all these projects individually, two things happen: 1. They end up not properly developing each project before moving on to the next one- which is a shame, because if you are going to do it, then do it properly, and 2. With so many projects competing for their attention, they burn out quickly. As a rule, make it a habit of putting the majority of your resources into a project until it begins to sprout legs and run by itself, or in other words, start earning money while requiring minimal input from you.
4. Create a to-do list... and stick to it. The mighty to-do list is the greatest and most enduring invention for the time-strapped professional. But it is only as good as your ability to stick to it. Make a list of all your responsibilities and build a weekly schedule around them. Where you are consistently unable to meet the goals you've set for yourself, then re-evaluate and re-adjust, don't just try to work harder.
5. Leave yourself some wiggle room. You have to create for yourself the ability to change priorities if need be. Sometimes you may be faced with a project or opportunity that requires urgent attention. In order to do this without getting burnt out, you should determine beforehand the bare minimum input required for each of your projects, write them down somewhere, and keep these in mind as you re-align your time.
6. Know when it's time to delegate. As a person takes on more responsibilities, he or she will inevitably reach a point where there is just too much work to be handled alone and where additional, outside expertise may be required. To these ends, outsourcing is a vital part of managing multiple projects, just make sure that you use outsourcing wisely.
7. Get the right tools. What systems are you using the manage your money, payments, business-related data, and contact information? If you are going to juggle several money-making projects then you need to be organized and make your accounting and managerial duties as easy as possible. To that end, get a good accounting software system as well as a solution to manage customer and contact info. If you haven't yet heard of SohoOS, the free suite of cloud-based management applications for small businesses and freelancers, then definitely check it out.
8. Evaluate your progress. I cannot stress this particular tip enough. Make sure that you check-in with yourself along the way and calculate the actual ROI of your efforts. And don't forget: time is money; it's not just trite; it's true. One of the biggest tips to reduce burnout is knowing when it's time to walk away from a project that is not paying off.
9. Just say no! In the process of trying to build up your income streams and your reputation, you need to create a balance between freely offering your assistance and self-preservation. Doing people favors here and there is commendable, fainting from exhaustion or watching your projects wallow in abandonment isn't.
10. Remember to live. The goal for most people working with multiple income streams is too create systems that earn money passively. So don't forget to step back when that starts happening. Schedule guest posts on your blog, hire someone to do maintenance work, and go out for a walk, coffee with friends, or a day trip with the family.
Bottom line: managing multiple income streams may have become a necessity for many people today, but that also means learning how to manage burnout.