Multiple Income Streams to replace One Man-One Job?

You may be employed at the moment – in fact you may even be well-employed. But look at many others around you and what do you see? With millions unemployed, millions more under-employed, and hundreds of thousands of jobs being outsourced to lower wage countries, what does the future of employment hold? Is it possible that the sun is setting on the traditional one man-one job model of employment and income?

Before dismissing the possibility, consider that only 40 years ago tens of millions of workers were employed in largely high paying, mostly unionized factory jobs. Just over 100 years ago the majority of Americans were employed in agriculture. Where are all of those jobs now? And if one man-one job is going the way of the factory job, what are our options?

Multiple Income Streams to replace One Man-One Job?
Multiple Income Streams to replace One Man-One Job?
Developing multiple income streams may become a necessary reaction to an environment where the unemployed often return to the work force in lower paying jobs.

In Survival+, Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation, Charles Hugh Smith introduces the concept of hybrid work:

“…one finger in the wage economy, one in growing food, another in creative pursuits, another in trading childcare for eldercare, another in hedging/investing to preserve purchasing power, another in helping to develop locally owned distributed energy as either a technical innovator, an investor or provider of labor/supervision and yet another in local schooling.”

While I’m not going to follow this definition to the letter, I am going to use it as model in developing a practical outline on how each of us can broaden our income bases and provide ourselves with a measure of employment and income security that the traditional one man/one job model is increasingly failing to provide.

Start a side business – now!

Multiple income streams are at the heart of hybrid work. Anyone can and probably should have some sort of business, at least as a sideline. At the core of self-employment is learning to trade with others, a basic skill we need to get reacquainted with.

First don’t quit your day job. Second, think about what you actually like to do, what you truly feel passionate about. You work at your day job to pay the bills, now do something you feel good about. Passion will drive you to keep at it when failure seems inevitable. A lack of passion will doom it to failure.

This is what I’ve done with my freelance blog writing business. I love to write, and I have lots of opinions and I’ve turned the combination into a primary income source. Look for something similar and know that it’s doable.

Get started now, and don’t worry about making money – it’s typical that new ventures don’t make money for months, a year or longer. But that’s why you keep your day job. Play at it for a while and learn the ropes.

Even if your day job looks safe, you want to start the venture as soon as possible so the business will be rolling at a future date when your job situation may look less certain, or when you just might feel like pitching the job to become a full time entrepreneur.

Develop a web presence

The internet offers an inexpensive way to market products and services, but equally important, it opens up virtually the entire world as a potential market. Operating without it is the equivalent of looking for a job without a drivers license – there are only so many jobs on the bus route.

Set up a simple website or weblog for any purpose or topic you choose. Then get on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In or as many social media as you can. Take on one at a time and just start chatting and asking questions. Even if you don’t need it now, you want to have a web presence established for the day when you do. Develop your contact base now, even if you have nothing to sell. When you do have something, you’ll already have a market in place.

If you’re self-employed, look for part-time, seasonal and contract work

If you already have a profitable business you’re ahead of the curve. But you’re also not immune to the cycles of perpetual change that technology and globalization are imposing economy wide. Also, many businesses are seasonal, having busy peak seasons followed by frightening lulls. Part-time, seasonal and contract work may be a way to even out the income flow and, just as important, broaden revenue sources.

Optimally the wage arrangement should be in a business unrelated to yours, so that if your industry tanks you’ll have a cash flow and a “next career” to go to.

I was on the front lines for the mortgage meltdown, and when the industry started going down there were few opportunities to remain in the business, and the lines to get them were extremely long. Some pre-positioning would have made the descent easier.

Join and participate in networks

This is how you keep you’re ear to the ground. Join network groups related not only to your business, but also to any business you think you might be interested in. It’s an opportunity to find out what’s going on “out there” in the real world that’s happening behind the often oversimplified version the media reports.

Broaden your contacts, find people who are doing what you’re doing (or want to do) and “swap recipes”. It’s amazing what information can be gathered from casual contacts.

Seek soft barter arrangements

Let’s say you can do web design and you have an acquaintance who fixes cars—can you find a way to swap services? Inventory your skills and think about what people in your orbit can do; are there any barter opportunities?

Develop a “hands-on skill”

People who can produce or fix things often have the greatest job security. Ours is a world of machines, and all of them break or need service sooner or later. Being one of the people who can keep them going is a solid start to a side business.

You don’t need to be a jack-of-all-trades – a single skill can open up barter arrangements or a second income opportunity. A guy in my neighborhood started fixing things for neighbors; in a short while he was doing it for money. After he lost his IT job, he went full time as a handyman, and has been at it for several years.

Actively search for new opportunities

While others are lamenting the bad economy, see the world as a cornucopia of fresh ideas and opportunities and be prepared to move on short notice. The world economy is moving very fast – as one income opportunity fades, be ready to replace it with a new one.

Live beneath your means – always

Many opportunities are available to those who travel light in life, unburdened by outsized mortgages, late model cars and other trappings of the high cost lifestyle so many aspire to. Instead, seek enjoyment in freedom, simplicity, people and meaningful work.

Save and invest intelligently

A healthy bank balance means more opportunities and better sleep. We all need more of both. If you have two or more income sources, you may be able to allocate one specifically for savings. Savings can even out an erratic income stream and free you up to take chances that debt surfs can only dream of.

Be conservative in your investing – two stock market crashes in the last 14 years should cure us of the desire to put 80-100% of our money into risk investments. Take your chances in the business world, not with money you’ve already earned and may need to pay bills with one day.

It may not be possible to take on all of these activities simultaneously, but they can be integrated over time. Pick one to implement immediately, then add one every few months as your circumstances warrant. There is no goal line here – forward motion is the key.

How do you see the economy playing out over the next few years? Do you think the end of one man-one job is a possibility? What are you doing to stay afloat and find new opportunities?

( Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives )

15 Responses to Multiple Income Streams to replace One Man-One Job?

  1. Good tips here. I think putting a bunch of lines in the water is a good idea. My wife naturally seems to do this with her various side business (ie mary kay, creative memories etc), but she has found one within her passions (photography) and is growing a mini-photo business.

    In our new house we finished our basement to put a studio down there and she’s been having a blast doing what she loves and making a little side hustle!

  2. Jason – that’s kind of the key, taking interests that you love and turning them into revenue streams. Since she likes doing them, it won’t feel like work, and if she starts making some money, the combination of passion and revenue could turn the venture into a full time business.

  3. The key is to be able to generate multiple source of income without having to put too much time and effort into each streams. It would best if certain income streams are more passive.

  4. Richdadwisdom – That’s a point well taken, in regard to time. Multiple income sources are the way to go, but we don’t want or need to be working 100+ hours per week.

    That raises the importance of beginning new ventures as soon as possible, even if you’re well employed. It will take time to get income sources going, even passive ones.

    Optimally, the second/passive income streams will rise over time until a tipping point is reached where you can consider leaving the full time job, if that’s the choice. But it all takes an investment of time.

  5. Wow, this is some great advice!

    Not only will creating extra income streams help your bottom line, it can also help you meet people and make friends (both online and off).

    Thanks for the great material!

  6. Money Reasons – You’re raising a central point. We can easily get comfortable in our little worlds, while the world around us is changing, slowly turning us into dinosaurs. We need to get out and circulate because ultimately, people are our best opportunities.

    When ever we get out and do new things and meet new people, doors begin to open that wouldn’t had we not spread our wings. We can never know what opportunities might come as a result of that outreach, but it’s always worth the effort.

  7. Multiple Streams of Income has become somewhat of a rather fabled key phrase in our non-employee vocabulary. But in spite of it’s overuse as a keyword, I don’t think it’s lost a shred of credibility from inception from now. It’s vague; but it’s a phase that should most certainly be taken into account.

    Stocks, Commodities, web-logging and intellectual properties is what will make up the key component of my MSI. <3

  8. The only security i know I can count on is the interest income I collect every month on my cash savings. The goal is to grow it to $10,000 a month, and then I’m done! Still got about 8-10 years to go to make it happen though.

  9. So true, if you can make it happen. The advantage of passive investment income is that it’s a done deal, so to speak. You don’t have to get out of bed every day and make it happen. Really it’s the highest and best form of an income stream and enough of it means you’ve “arrived”.

  10. Such a great advice Kevin! I know someone who joins a networking business last 2007 and after one year he is already one of the top man of their business. And now he is already a “Diamond”, it means one of the highest rank.

  11. Hi Kate – That’s a good story, and one that I think happens more than we realize. Sometimes the most important step is just getting started. As you move forward, good things start to happen and before you know it you’re more successful than you ever imagined.

  12. I have started doing three things lately. I’ve concentrated in my primary work skill and tried to increase my income from that. Second, I’ve started learning some online marketing stuff and plan to have some valuable certificates in the coming six months. Thirdly, I’ve opened account at Corner trader and started trading and investing Forex assets to earn from handsome money. The third option is helping me increase my corpus.

  13. Hi Mariah – My hat is off to you for consciously taking on three ventures at the same time. While a lot of people are lamenting the absence of living wage/high wage jobs, you’re out executing a solid Plan B. That in my opinion, is what we all need to be doing.

  14. “…one finger in the wage economy, one in growing food, another in creative pursuits, another in trading childcare for eldercare, another in hedging/investing to preserve purchasing power, another in helping to develop locally owned distributed energy as either a technical innovator, an investor or provider of labor/supervision and yet another in local schooling.”

    Except for the hedging/investing and the distributed energy thing, this is how the majority of working moms, especially single moms, have been doing it for years now. Working a regular job (although lately part time with not great benefits), growing vegetables and herbs, a store on Etsy (craft site), taking care of kids and/or senior parents to save $s, and helping at local school as “lunch mom” or crossing guard (paid positions) . . . this is the typical pattern with mothers, whereas the traditional Dad had to do 60+ hours work weeks at one job and that’s it.

  15. That’s a brilliant observation about working moms! I think what’s happening is that the 60 hour/week jobs are what are disappearing, and now dads, and career women are being forced into career multi-tasking. It’s all about surviving in a world that’s much less certain than it was just a decade or so ago.

Leave a reply