12 Most Lucrative Business Assets Hiding in Your Drawers or Files
Imagine being told that your humdrum rural property had oil, minerals or gems underground that could bring you hundreds of thousands in new income if you decided to bring those substances to the surface. Something analogous applies in the world of business, where content you previously developed is just sitting in your closet, file cabinets or computer folders. If you unearth it and develop it, it could be worth a lot to you.
Before you pooh-pooh this idea, consider the categories below. Nearly every business older than five years has several items from this list that could be turned into a new income source.
1. Seminar notes
Did you ever teach a class or lead a training session, for the public, for employees or for clients? If so, you might be able to update the content and sell it as a course through companies like Udemy or as a Kindle ebook on Amazon.com. I’ve done this several times with material that I originally prepared for teleseminars and then a few years later transformed into Kindle ebooks.
Just as airline pilots go through a standard checklist before taking off and surgeons do likewise to make sure they’re operating on the right spot on the right patient, you might have created a list of items you use for diagnosis, service or quality control. Nicely designed and attractively priced, this could become a product sold within your industry. For example, Bankers Online sells sets of laminated reminder cards for bank tellers and other employees to use to spot fraudulent IDs.
3. Systems or processes
Going beyond checklists — perhaps you have a whole system you use to train employees, reliably generate new customers, keep schoolchildren motivated, plan healthy meals or teach a dog to run agility courses. If so, you can package that system as a course or training manual that others can buy. Two keys to success with such an effort: Invent snappy names for your method or steps in the system, and collect user testimonials or performance-based data indicating your process’s effectiveness.
4. Client work
Whether it’s logos, travel itineraries, kitchen designs or meal plans, you can ethically get paid a second time for client work by creating a helpful collection of similar items with your clients’ permission. Often they’re flattered to be included in such an anthology, and you can sweeten the deal by giving them a complimentary copy of your new product. Using this strategy, I created and sold a collection of 24 before-and-after press release makeovers.
5. Journal or chronicle
Before blogs were popular, people often kept private logs, journals or simply notes of day-to-day efforts toward a goal. I know several people who converted such chronicles into educational products. In 2003, Yanik Silver embellished a bare-bones, day-by-day diary of two months away from home into a report, How to Run Your Internet Business from Anywhere. Another entrepreneur did much the same with a blow-by-blow record of the twists and turns in negotiations for the sale of one of his companies.
6. Blog or newsletter
If you publish a free-to-read blog or subscriber newsletter, you can compile posts and articles into thematic collections that you charge for. A blogger who goes by “Dating Goddess” has done this thirteen times so far, with volumes called Date or Wait, In Search of King Charming, Ironing Out Dating Wrinkles, and so on. She charges $9.95 for each ebook and $19.95 for each paperback anthology. This is the very same content available at no cost on her blog, but organized more conveniently. Enough readers prefer consuming her content that way that the effort is well worthwhile for her.
7. Unpublished manuscripts
Did you know that all over the world, unpublished authors are dusting off long-ago rejected manuscripts that they were once told weren’t appealing enough or had no market and now successfully self-publishing them for Kindle and paperback readers? The economics and practicalities of publishing have greatly changed in the last five years. Projects that traditional publishers couldn’t or wouldn’t take on then are often quite viable now with minimal investment on the author’s part.
8. Signs and slogans
Did you ever come up with catchy slogans, clever graphics or a cuddly mascot that might have appeal to others in your profession? A urology association used to sell very funny in-joke sayings on T-shirts, bumper stickers and so on to its members as a fundraiser. Instant storefront companies like CafePress and Zazzle make it easy to sell items containing your designs with next to no e-commerce know-how.
9. Outdated parts
Chances are, when you update your technology you reflexively toss the outmoded or broken stuff into the trash. But if you’ve saved such items long enough, they may become collectibles or valuable sources of replacement parts for people who enjoy keeping their old machines around. I got this concept from a tech company whose entire business involves supporting customers using very old computers or software.
10. Customer questions
People who receive the same questions over and over again often put together documents, either for internal use or for posting on a website, of their careful, helpful answers to those questions. Such a compilation of answers might very well be suitable as a saleable product. One health publishing company has an extensive line of books about medical conditions whose titles all begin with “100 Questions & Answers About…” Just about any mundane or specialized topic that people care about or pay money for lends itself to this approach.
Ever give a PowerPoint presentation at a conference or to a selection committee of potential clients? Such content might be repurposed into courses, ebooks, paid webinars, posters or even slide decks that others can use for training or marketing.
If you’re like me, you prepare carefully when a reporter or podcast producer wants to pick your brain for an article or have you as a guest for an on-air interview. Take a second look at the notes you put together for that occasion to see if they can be the basis of something to expand and sell. Besides written reports or visual items like calendars, bumper stickers or posters, audio products are more popular than ever — audiobooks and well-produced lectures sell on Audible and elsewhere.
As I look ahead to retirement after more than 30 years of coaching, consulting and speaking, I have several times gone through my physical and computer files on the lookout for on-the-fly work I previously did that I can profitably transform. Each time, this exercise has turned up documents, concepts or notes that I overlooked before.
Please tell us about the exciting discoveries from your own inventory!
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