I recently attended a Scanners’ Night talk by the lovely, and very amusing Barbara Winter, on the topic of “Multiple Passions, Multiple Profits”. I first met Barbara in 2005, when I bought her book “Making a Living Without a Job“, and we’ve been sort of penpals ever since – so it was good to be able to talk to her face-to-face again!
In case you’re not familiar with the term “Scanner”, it was coined by Barbara Sher to describe people who have multiple interests – and who often find it difficult to sacrifice one in favour of the other. It feels a bit like having to choose between your children, I imagine (not having children of my own!).
So when it comes to starting a business, Scanners can easily feel like they’re doing it all wrong – because the conventional wisdom is all about having a niche, and focusing on one area of business. To a Scanner, this is tantamount to slavery!
As Barbara explained, though, you CAN have multiple income streams, or multiple profit centres. In fact, in today’s economy, I would think it’s almost compulsory. Nothing worse than having all your eggs in one basket, if the bottom falls out of the egg market! Or the basket, for that matter…!
Instead, what Barbara recommends is having a few “anchor” income streams – these may be regular sources which will bring in the bulk of the income, month on month. These, she said, are like the department stores in a shopping mall – solid and reliable.
Then, once the solid base of your business has been founded, you can branch out into more creative pursuits that, perhaps, won’t bring in as much money as the anchors – but they’ll be a lot of fun! These, Barbara referred to as being like the boutiques and kiosks in between the department stores. They’re bright and zany, and they inspire the soul.
To me, this makes perfect sense. Having followed the conventional path – and struggled for several years to earn a regular income from one single area of business – this year I decided to branch out and develop more of a Portfolio Career / multiple income streams business. So I’ve got my department stores set up, and now I’m starting to branch out into the boutiques and kiosks.
As an entrepreneur, having some kind of regular income is very freeing, because it takes the pressure off the things you do purely for love. As long as you enjoy doing the regular work, you can afford to go out on more of a limb with the creative stuff. If it earns money, that’s great, but if it doesn’t – or at least, not in the short term – it doesn’t mean you go without food!