Money & Sense: Multiple revenue streams, build financial independence
My grandmother who didn't have more than a Class Six education was the queen of multiple revenue streams. Although she didn't make it to become a big time trader she managed to raise 5 children, and a whole village of relatives and their children. In the 72 years that she lived, this trained seamstress managed her own tailoring shop and staff, sold bread, sold water, sold to to mato paste, sold chickens, sold juice and frozen ice, founded and led a community development organization which opened a tailoring institute for high school dropouts, and later just before she passed away that school transformed into a daycare and primary school in the Banana Water Community in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Before she passed I asked her why she was opening yet another business, knowing full well that the cancer was beating her bones. Mummy K said that no matter how ill she was, she needed to earn enough money to be able to at minimum buy herself to buy her own bread every morning. I said but mummy I'm here for that. She said yes I know but I still need to do this and she did. She died a couple years after it started and the Karams Nusery & Daycare continued on a couple years after her death until the family decided to close it. Mummy K knew that she needed to create multiple revenue streams if she wanted to maintain financial independence.
There is so much about the way she lived that has become a guide for my own life. Those who know me, might say I have a certain restlessness about me, an eagerness to constantly be doing and creating. I tell them it's in my blood, surely it must be. Even on my paternal side, my great grand father J.H. Doherty was a legendary merchant in Lagos. My people are business people.
On a daily basis I run a marketing company. My staff and I based in Accra help small and large businesses grow using strategic marketing plans and sales activities. But that's not all. I am also a photographer. While I rarely book photography gigs, I've been paid to do photography multiple times. I'm also a publisher and I do a blog on Sierra Leone which gets paid adverts. That's not all. I rent rooms on Airbnb to travelers coming to Accra and have been since 2014.
I'm also currently working on an app with two friends that we hope will solve some local trade problems. You might have noticed a pattern. I am always doing something, and finding a new way to increase my revenue streams.
Most people I know in West Africa have some kind of side hustle or want to start one. My experience has been that what keeps me afloat financially is having more than one way to earn money. In order to be successful, we need to stop thinking that these money earners are "side hustles" and think of them as revenue streams, that need focus, commitment, and professionalism.
Every year that I travel to the US I make and take African crafts and fashion with me as gifts or for sale. The times that I don't take them folks get upset. Why didn't you bring anything to sell? I've been traveling with goods for years now I've finally found a way to formally turn this into a proper and consistent revenue stream.
Yesterday I met with the co-founder of an online shopping platform in Ghana that allows anyone to open an e-commerce store front. You open your shop, upload your products and boom you're in business. Store Foundry handles the shipping (both local and worldwide). They have a payment system that accepts all kinds and it is also secure. I no longer have to carry these goods with me only when I travel, now I can produce, and curate the items I want, take orders, watch the money pile up. Hahahaha no for real.
There are some people who actually look down on trade. They see you posting links and items for sale on your social media feeds and they think you have no class or maybe that you're poor and or desperate. Honestly I couldn't care less and you shouldn't either.
One of my greatest sources of inspiration to date is Master P, founder and CEO of No Limit Records. There was a documentary out when I was 15 that showed how he built his own career and was able to launch and lead an independent record label earning more per record sold than many bigger mainstream artists.
It all started though at the back of his car. He used to park his car on the corners where he once sold drugs to sell CDs. He went from selling CDs from his boot tobecoming one of the richest hip hop artists of all times. I mean he was doing this long before anyone else and many have said Mr. P changed Hip Hop from a hustle to an entrepreneurial pursuit.
So whatever it is you're doing to increase your revenue do it. If you're selling hair, sell it. If it's makeup do it! Don't let anybody's side eye, or whispering stop you from getting more money. The same people side eying your business game, in a couple years after seeing your growth will tell your story as what inspired them to do the same.