8 Reasons Why You Need A Revenue Stream Today

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In the past 60 days, I have been out of almost $10,000 of income. As someone that is self employed, that amount of money can sting a little.

Knowing that 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, would you be willing to lose $10k and survive until next payday?

Guess what, it could happen to you tomorrow.

I will show you why having paid employment, or being a contractor, as your only revenue source could be hurting you. Below is what happened to me in the last 10 years.

1. A Questionable Firing

In 2004, I was fired from my job at Humana.

Even though:

  • I had perfect attendance
  • Stayed late
  • Worked weekends
  • Skipped lunch to help in other departments
  • Developed free scripting programs on the side to speed up the number of calls 1 call operator could cycle through ( I was just a call operator BTW, not a programmer and not a manager )

and gave my all to the company every day. How was I rewarded for this work ethic?

Humana decided to fire me on my 2 year anniversary date.

The reason? I sent 2 emails out from the company mail system 6 months prior to someone I was doing freelance work for on the side.

I am not saying that I didn’t do anything wrong as it was against policy to do so, but why wait 6 months on my anniversary date? Why throw out a star employee over 2 emails?

No slap on the wrist or warning, just fired for a first incident while on the job.

Result: Humana got slapped with a lawsuit some years later for bad employment practices which I received a benefit check over. The check didn’t cover the sting of being fired over 2 emails.

2. My First Layoff

I spent a couple months unemployed until I was hired full-time by a small marketing agency. I was employee #2.

The owner told me they had secured a loan to pay for my salary for an entire year. However, less then 5 months later I was laid off.

The owner was more focused on buying cell phones and t-shirts with the company logo then selling our services. I had helped them bring in several new revenue sources and clients, but I was the one let go when he couldn’t cover his bills.

Back to being unemployed again for 4 more months.

Result: This company went out of the business shortly after I left.

3. Short Changed

In 2005, I then went to work for an established medical goods company.

While there, I single handedly:

  • Developed 3 fully functional, custom e-commerce sites
  • Built a custom CRM system
  • Helped run all online marketing campaigns ( SEO and PPC )
  • Managed the servers for the company
  • Did general tech support for everyone in the company
  • Managed contractors and IT projects.

I was paid $28k a year, but was doing the job of 11 people ( that’s how many people are now employed to do those jobs at this same company today ).

When I asked for a raise at my 1 year anniversary, I was told there was no more money to pay for one.

I left this company to take a higher pay position elsewhere, and within 6 months they asked me to come back and magically had the money for my prior raise now.

It still stings, even while I write this, that I was cheated. I learned that ultimately this was my own doing for letting them treat me this way.

Result: This company is still in business, but has had a horrible time keeping employees for more then 1-2 years.

4. My Second Layoff

In 2007 I was offered a job working remotely for a top affiliate network. I ran all of their clients’ digital campaigns and even the company’s internal affiliate campaigns.

The company went from $400k revenues the year before I came onboard, to doing over $38MM by the time I left.

Within 11 months, I was laid off again when poor decisions from upper management forced them to close off all of their remote offices and workers.

I became their #1 affiliate two months after being let go.

Oddly enough, instead of being happy for me and loving all the new revenue I was bringing them, they tried to take away my paid traffic sources and accounts.

Photo 4

Result: To no surprise, this company is no longer in business.

5. Promises Not Kept

In 2010, I decided to do some work with the medical goods company I worked with in 2005 under some verbal agreements and a handshake.

I was helping drive sales to one of the e-commerce sites I originally developed that had got neglected for years. I helped this site reach $1MM in online sales within 11 months of coming back onboard.

Part of my original agreement was that I would be able to work from home due to the long commute and price of gas at the time. I also needed to know exactly what I would be paying in health care to establish if working for them was even feasible at the time.

After 9 months, I realized I had not worked from home yet and was spending a ton of time and money on the commute. I asked about finally being able to work from home and was told “they would look into it”. Wait, what?

Three months later, I still had not heard anything regarding working remotely.

I received an offer from one of my side clients to come work for him full-time, so I used it as leverage at my current job. When I asked my employer about finally working from home again a 3rd time, I was told I could have 1 day a week for it.

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That didn’t sit well with me.

In my original pre-employment agreement, it was known I wanted 2-3 days a week to work from home.

I was also told the wrong information about our health insurance premiums which were triple the cost of what I was originally told. I paid less in premiums when I was self employed!

I promptly left the company to work for the client that offered me the other position.

Result: This company is still in business, but has had a horrible time keeping employees for more then 1.5 years.

6. Assholes Don’t Care & Another Layoff

After leaving the medical goods company, I went to work for an aviation classifieds company that had been a client of mine for 9 years.

As a consultant, I had helped them gain thousands of top rankings in Google and dominate their competitors. Every time they engaged with me, their traffic went from a couple hundred visitors a day to several thousand which drove a lot of revenue for them.

I was told I would be a “decision maker” and valued member of the company.

I had already bailed this company out of bad SERP positioning in Google several times before in the past as a contractor.

globalair.com   SEMrush s main report for domain

Upon employment though, I was treated as a second class citizen.

As a contractor, my advice and skills were valued. As an employee I was treated as someone who didn’t know what they were doing and was being told the “right” way to do digital marketing from someone who had never done it.

The owner was one of these guys that would play on Reddit daily and change his digital strategy to whatever was being up-voted that day on SEOMoz.

After tripling their website visitors within 1 month of employment and spending 3 months telling them they needed to clean up their webpages and remove all the duplicate content they had, Google Panda hit them and their rankings dropped to nothing.

I was laid off 4 months into my employment because they had lost all of their traffic and could not pay me. They still have the duplicate content on their site to this day, but rely on their “IT” guy to do their marketing for them.

Result: This company has lost all of the traffic I helped them get before the Panda update and is being ran with a skeleton crew and entry level employees. I’ve also had IRS issues with this company as well.

7. My 4th Layoff

In late 2012 I went to work for another long standing client of mine that offered me a CMO position within their company.

High salary, equity within the company, and all the trimmings that come with such a position. I had helped this company grow from a small start-up in 2005 with no website, to revenues of $8.4MM when I left.

Upon being hired, I learned that a few key employees in this company had a severe lack of attention and hate for authority.

Most of the people employed were people that no one else would hire in their right mind. I found trouble trying to delegate tasks and manage my department as the “new guy” because the company culture was so fractured.

The owner even told me it would be an issue managing these people.

He told me the company MO was to hire people no one else would want to hire, pay them a small hourly rate slightly above min. wage, and try to build them up with bonus incentives so that they might move up in the company later.

This bonus or “performance” incentive was to suppose to make up their pay.

The problem is, there is a reason no one else wanted to hire these people in the first place.

 

Pay slightly above min. wage isn’t very motivating to most people. However, when no one else will hire you.. you take what you can get. A huge problem I seen was the bonus payout was set up to very high standards that benefited the company greatly, but paid the worker very low.

Some of the hardest working people in this company got a bonus of $30 every month for their hard work by reaching goals that improved the company standard by 10-25%.

The problem with that setup is, if you increase sales ( or margin or profit ) for the company by 10% off a channel that is currently bringing in say $100k a year, $30 isn’t equal to the benefit brought to the company overall.

By increasing sales 10%, this employee just brought in $10k in sales for the year. Sure, it’s not $10k profit, but that addtional $10k in sales also brought in new customers. Customers that can be marketed to hundreds of times later via email, customers who’s lifetime value for the company might be thousands of dollars.

$30 is not acceptable for the tradeoff.

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The owner also had a terrible habit of micro-managing all the employees and was known to scream and fly off the handle any minute. Lets just say it was a very high tension place to work.

People feared him instead of respected him.

Then came a death-blow…

Three weeks into my full-time employment, a 3rd party agency they had been working with delivered us a totally new, LIVE website.. unannounced.

Nothing worked. No backend reporting, no checkout, all OLD URLs 404′ed, all the product images were wrong. You get the picture. Worse of all, they would not give us our old website back.

It became my job as the CMO to now do IT management with this vendor.

Four months later, the 3rd party agency was still struggling to fix our site. We lost 60% of our revenues month over month. We had paid this vendor over $400k and got a worthless website.

I was laid off 6 months into employment because the company now had no cash flow.

Oddly enough, the owner would post pictures on Facebook of all the nice vacations and trips he was taking after telling me he had to layoff 60% of his workforce because of the financial problems the 3rd party agency caused him. From the last text message I got from the owner, he had plan to sue for a few million dollars for the issues.

Although the company is still in business today, no one that I worked with is still employed there ( I checked from Linkedin )

Result: This company has laid off almost all of its employees because of the 3rd party vendor and poor management by the owner and the advisor he has on payroll.

8. Clients Could Care Less

I started doing more client work as a way to sharpen my skills. I thought it would also be a nice revenue stream as well.

One day, one of my main clients let me go out of the blue after I:

  • Helped develop their core online marketing strategy
  • Got them their first 43,000 customers as a start-up
  • Pushed them into their first $200,000 in sales
  • Hit their milestone of 5,600 bottles of wine sold

I did this with a non-responsive website, a very low ad budget ( less then $200 a day ), no graphical or technical resources, and no way to split test or change up their landing pages. All marketing efforts that produced sales and leads for this client came solely from my efforts.

How was I repaid for my efforts?

My contract was ended because the owner said he couldn’t afford to pay me. To add insult, I had to wait almost 2 months for 40% of my last invoice with the other 60% still in wait.

I could go on, but the owner has been busy traveling and buying million dollar condo’s in San Francisco. He could care less that I am waiting for paperwork from him or for my last payment in exchange for my equity share.

Here are some more things that happened in just the last few months with clients:

  • Client failed to tell me that he lost HIS client because of his own billing issues, and also failed to tell me he wouldn’t be paying my invoice because of it.
  • Clients constantly behind on payment, causing me to do more admin tasks than actual work.
  • Client dropped off the face of the Earth with no word or payment from for him the last 3 months even though he signed tons of new bookkeeping clients from my PPC services I provided him.

You Need Your Own Income Stream

People are so scared to make the jump into owning their own business because they fear losing something. Most times it is money, benefits or their senior position at their current company.

As you can see from my experience with employers, you could still lose everything being an employee at any time.

You can lose everything you have tomorrow as an employee.

In the last 10 years I was fired once and laid off 4 times from paid employment jobs. I was also told false information by employers and cheated by my clients for payment.

Even being self-employed, clients can fuck you over with a contract.

I have several in place and the cost to enforce them and then later collect on what is owed to me will eat into my earnings IF I can even collect the money. Lets not also forget the time sink involved.

The only solution is having your own income stream. Here are a couple that work:

  • Your own product or blog where customers pay upfront to get the product or information
  • Affiliate campaigns ( beware though, your being paid after results and could get stiffed. I am still owed $40k from a network in Canada )
  • Investment returns from stocks or funds
  • Business like a car wash or general store where people pay upfront for goods
  • Real Estate

Why You Need It

Having your own income stream will not solve all of your problems. However, it can help you avoid those times in life where money can get tight. Every time I was let go or cheated, I was in a financial bind for some time following.

If you have your own reliable income stream that can produce money for you every month, then you do not need to worry about layoffs or clients that stiff you for work already performed.

You also don’t have to wait months to collect or spend a lot of time trying to find out why you are not being paid from clients.

When you own a product, the money will come before work performed and will get deposited to you upfront. I know a lot of people are thinking “What about refunds?”.

I’d rather have money upfront that could be refunded back, then no money coming in at all ( as in not getting paid by clients or getting laid off ).

Lets not forget SCALE. When you have your own income source you have the potential to scale those earnings. As an employee ( and a contractor ), this is not always possible.

In Closing

Don’t let the fear of losing something that isn’t secure to begin with keep you from making the jump into owning a business or starting a revenue stream. Being employed is far more riskier in my experince.

What are you going to do today to increase your own revenue streams?

HEY YOU.
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Hi! I'm Jason Brown and I’m a 36 year old digital marketing intrapreneur living in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky. I've been involved with the Internet since 1996 and have personally made millions online with my creative marketing tactics and persistence. I blog about marketing, money, and motivation. Thanks for stopping by!

3 comments

  1. Mitko   •  

    Great examples, thanks!
    I’m following a similar way.

    Once B. Gates said biggest risk in life is not to take risks at all.

  2. Richard   •  

    Great stuff, Jason!

    One thing I’ve always said is the greatest mental/emotional disease in the world is FEAR. Imagine where mankind would be if there were no fear in conquering our personal quests. Matter of fact, I’m in a remolding phase right now.

    Is there some way to get a hold of you? I don’t see a contact us form on your site. Would like to talk to you about your services…if you offer them on a contracting basis.

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