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Every business will, at some point, experience stagnant sales. When this happens, it may seem like the only way to increase sales is to take drastic measures requiring more time and energy. If you’re a small business trying to get to one million or maybe even five or ten million, ideally, you should have a strategy to reach those numbers. This is how large companies do it. They set sales goals and plan the exact roadmap from point A to point B.
Several years ago, when I set out to reach my first million in annual revenue, the way I approached business growth was like this: If I could make $100 per day, what would it take to get to $150 per day? So, the approach was to try and make a little more money over time gradually. But this is not always easy because, as I mentioned earlier, many entrepreneurs feel like they’ve reached their revenue potential. Sometimes, finding creative ways to make more money can take time and effort.
Before separating from the Air Force, my online business averaged about $300 daily, selling digital products. Later, I began selling exercise equipment and sporting goods. But at some point, I wanted to average $500 per day. I successfully reached that, then tried to grow the business to $1,000 daily. I achieved that, then felt it was possible to make $2,000 daily. Surprisingly, I did that. Ultimately, the business made it to an average of $3,000 daily, approximately one million annually.
How did I do it? I found new leads. In addition to my website, there were five sources of revenue that had a significant impact on my business.
The first hidden source of cash was Craigslist. It started when I would list used or returned items still in good shape. I had so many leads from the website that I eventually listed just about anything popular: new and used products. The cool thing about Craigslist is that any classified listing also serves as an advertisement. I included the company name, physical address and phone number in the footer of all ads. My business saw the entire spectrum of customers, from high school coaches to law enforcement officers. New customers also meant new referrals. Craigslist was an invaluable source of revenue.
Related: Marketing Your Business On Craigslist
The second overlooked source of income was OfferUp, another classified ad marketplace for new and used goods. Ironically, one of my Craigslist customers suggested I try OfferUp. At the time, it was a newer mobile app, and I was surprised I had not heard about it.
As a test, I listed a few items and received several inquiries on the same day. OfferUp had a few features that gave it an edge over its competition by facilitating payments and nationwide shipping. This was a bonus because it made my products nationally accessible instead of just local. The app was a high-quality lead generator and a recurring source of revenue for my business.
3. Facebook Marketplace
The third hidden source of income was Facebook Marketplace. Existing Facebook users can post just about anything for sale and have it shown to a broad audience. I estimate that there were no less than ten daily inquiries for a given item. As a dealer with an endless supply, I would sell the same item repeatedly. Facebook Marketplace was an excellent source of supplemental income.
Related: How to Make Social Media Marketing Effective for Your Brand
The fourth source of income that I unearthed was Letgo. Whenever you can make money without spending any, it’s always a plus. While less of a revenue generator than the resources above, Letgo served as a powerful sales generator. For most sellers, it is free to list an item for sale on the app.
The fifth and final hidden source of income was Etsy. The website features handmade, vintage and craft supplies sold by individual sellers. You will not find classified ads on Etsy because they only sell new products. Although, new products are sometimes made from used or recycled materials.
I discovered that certain items already in inventory could be repurposed and sold on the platform. Etsy’s business model is similar to other sites that take commissions once an item sells. Because of the sheer volume of users, I would have to say that Etsy was always a source of consistent, predictable revenue.
Before increasing my presence on these five platforms, I sold products exclusively online via my main website. I also had a warehouse location for distribution, but it was not always open to the public. At some point, I adjusted and opened a small showroom where customers could retrieve will-call items. When business was slow, I tried posting classified ads. When ad respondents arrived to pay for an item, they almost always purchased additional items. This is where I saw an opportunity.
Related: 5-Minute Mentor: How Do I Get My Products In Front of Customers Online?
Eventually, I was able to open a 4,000-square-foot retail store that was highly successful. But it all started with a simple challenge: solve the problem of stagnant sales. My business experienced dramatic levels of growth when I took proactive steps to find new leads. In the end, getting more eyes on my products was the key to success. I did this by taking advantage of classified ad websites, mobile apps and other resources that ultimately served as free advertisements for my business. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it exposed my products to new customers, translating into more sales.