When Brittany Cobb started Flea Style seven years ago, it was a small biannual curated flea market in Dallas. Today the company has four shows in Dallas and Houston annually (and will launch more cities this fall), produces large-scale conferences for small business owners, hosts workshops in their office, and has an online shop featuring its lifestyle goods.
Sound like a lot? It is. But Brittany credits this multi-faceted business model as the wave of the future for creative companies looking to carve out a successful path in a world of over-saturation and instagram scrolling. Need more proof? Just look at Emily Henderson’s interior design business, coffee table book, Target collection, online flea market and more.
Here are Brittany’s tips for making your company grow authentically and successfully with multiple revenue streams.
Have a Hero
Before you spread your time thin with several projects or platforms, it’s best have one that floats the ship in smooth and choppy waters. Once you have a hero idea that pays the bills you can consider other channels to explore. Don’t waste your time or funds on additional projects until your core company is financially sound.
Your Mission Statement is Your Best Friend
Creative thinkers need a leash to keep ideas in line. Whether it’s a series of short sentences or a simple tagline, create and memorize your mission and use it has a barometer always. Anytime you consider rolling out a new product or platform, ask the question: “Does this idea stay true to my mission?” If the answer is yes, then the idea is worth considering or testing further. If the answer is no, move on immediately.
Follow the Money
Why do 96% of businesses fail within ten years? They can’t pay their bills. Any time you’re considering a new idea or potential platform for your main mission, you must ask yourself how and when it will monetize. If it doesn’t make money initially it’s not necessarily a no if it serves the main mission and forecasts success in the near future.
E Words Are Key Words
Sometimes you have to take some short term pain for long term gain. If you’re facing this financial reality with your company’s new concept, ask yourself the following question: Does this idea increase my business’ exposure, engagement and economic security? If the answer is yes to all three and you can sustain the initial investment go for it if your guts says so.
Keep Things Inexpensive, Simple and Scalable
When you’re a small business, you usually have little resources, manpower and funding. New platforms should be simple to start and test and also have serious legs for scaling. Time-intensive projects should be left for the hero idea that brings home the bacon. For seedling concepts, keep early execution easy and affordable. Consider cost-effective strategies such as bartering with friends (they provide branding for your social media prowess), using a combination of part-time employees and interns, and reaching out to influencers and media directly instead of hiring a publicist.
Ditch Dud Ideas
Sometimes an idea fits your mission, looks lucrative and is fairly simple to start but still just doesn’t work. And that’s ok! Successful business owners cut operations, departments, employees and ideas all the time. The key is to pivot before you spend too much money and time on something that is destined to fail. Some sure ways to see if your idea is a hero or zero: Use a financial tool (a profit and loss sheet is good) to track your numbers and keep an eye on the hype/engagement, whether it be through social media, site analytics, online sales, events and/or press. Your gut is another means of measure always. Never forget that!
While it’s important to be fiercely true to your mission, you still want to have flexibility with your path to growth. Watch and analyze your company’s Google analytics, successes, failures and feedback and ebb and flow with the results. If online sales are sluggish, for example, consider a new advertising strategy or take a deep look at your product assortment or prices. With the easy access to ideas, we all need to regularly shake things up and stay fresh with our concepts whether it be with unique offerings or authentic engagement with our customers. Things move fast today and it’s crucial to stay current and ahead of the curve to prosper.