expressed an opinion entrepreneur Contributors own.
Every business, at some point, will experience stagnant sales. When this happens, it may seem like the only way to increase sales is to take drastic measures that require more time and energy. If you’re a small business trying to reach a million or even five or ten million, ideally, you should have a strategy to reach those numbers. That’s how big companies do it. They set sales goals and plan the right roadmap from point A to point A.
Several years ago, when I set out to reach my first million in annual income, the way I approached business growth was this: If I could make $100 a day, what would it take to get to $150 a day? So, the approach was to gradually try to make a little more money over time. But it’s not always easy because, as I mentioned earlier, many entrepreneurs think they’ve reached their income potential. Sometimes, finding creative ways to make more money can take time and effort.
Before I separated from the Air Force, my online business selling digital products averaged about $300 a day. Later, I started selling exercise equipment and sports equipment. But at some point, I wanted to average $500 a day. I successfully got there, then tried to grow the business to $1,000 per day. I achieved this, then realized that earning $2,000 per day was possible. Amazingly, I did it. Ultimately, the business stood at an average of $3,000 daily, nearly a million annually.
How do I do it? I found new leads. Besides my website, there were five sources of income that had a significant impact on my business.
The first hidden source of cash was Craigslist. It started when I would list used or returned items that were still in good condition. I had so many leads from the website that I finally listed about something popular: new and used products. The nice thing about Craigslist is that any classified listing works as an ad. I include the company name, physical address and phone number in the footer of all ads. My business has seen the full spectrum of customers, from high school coaches to law enforcement officers. New customers mean new referrals. Craigslist was an invaluable source of revenue.
Related: Marketing Your Business on Craigslist
2. Offer up
A second neglected source of income was OfferUp, another classified advertising market for new and used products. Ironically, one of my Craigslist customers suggested I try OfferUp. At the time, it was a new mobile app and I was surprised I hadn’t heard of it.
As a test, I listed a few items and received several inquiries on the same day. Offerup had a few features that gave it a leg up on the competition with ease of payment and nationwide shipping. This was a bonus because it made my products accessible nationally rather than locally. The app was a high-quality lead generator and a recurring source of income for my business.
3. Facebook Marketplace
A third hidden source of income was the Facebook Marketplace. Existing Facebook users can post anything for sale and it’s shown to a wider audience. I estimate that there were no fewer than ten searches daily for a given item. As a dealer with constant supply, I will sell the same item over and over again. Facebook Marketplace was an excellent source of supplemental income.
Related: How to Make Social Media Marketing Work for Your Brand
The fourth source of income I discovered is Letgo. Anytime you can make money without spending anything, that’s always a plus. While less of a revenue generator than the resources above, Letgo has served as a strong sales generator. For most sellers, listing an item for sale on the app is free.
The fifth and final hidden source of income was Etsy. The website features handmade, vintage and craft supplies sold by individual vendors. You won’t find classified ads on Etsy because they only sell new products. However, new products are sometimes made from used or recycled materials.
I discovered that some items already in inventory can be retrieved and sold on the platform. Etsy’s business model is similar to other sites that take a commission once an item is sold. Due to the sheer volume of users, I would have to say that Etsy has always been a consistent, predictable source of income.
Before expanding my presence on these five platforms, I sold products exclusively online through my main website. I also had a warehouse location for distribution, but it wasn’t always open to the public. At some point, I adjusted and opened a small showroom where customers could retrieve will-call items. When business was slow, I tried posting classified ads. When ad respondents come to pay for an item, they almost always purchase additional items. I saw an opportunity here.
Related: 5-Minute Mentor: How Do I Get My Products in Front of Customers Online?
Eventually, I was able to open a 4,000-square-foot retail store that was very successful. But it all started with a simple challenge: solve the problem of stagnant sales. My business grew dramatically when I took proactive steps to find new leads. Ultimately, getting more eyes on my product was the key to success. I did this by taking advantage of classified ad websites, mobile apps and other resources that ultimately served as free advertising for my business. It was one of the best decisions I ever made because it exposed my products to new customers, translating into more sales