Guest Posts, Social Media Strategy, Personal Branding

Diversifying Yourself Into a Platform Business

 Diversifying Yourself Into a Platform BusinessGuest post by Phil Simon, a technology expert and the author of three books. You can back his latest project here.

My forthcoming book The Age of the Platform Diversifying Yourself Into a Platform Businessis about the platform as an important and relatively new business model. I have learned from personal experience that building a platform is not only beneficial, but also imperative for many companies’ survival. I look at myself as a case in point: In a relatively short period of time, I was able to redefine my own business and launch completely new services. How did I do this? In short, I built my own platform.

From 2002 until 2008 nearly my entire livelihood was tied to one fairly specific type of work: enterprise resource planning (ERP) consulting. Even that type of relatively provincial work involves a wide variety of people and technical skills. It’s a niche – more than 99 percent of all companies would never consider engaging me. And even fewer need me at any given time.

Despite this significant limitation, by 2008, I had started to come into my own. It was the very definition of the “feast” year about which independent consultants like me dream. I should have been ecstatic.

Instead, I was extremely concerned. I was 36 and said to myself: I had better enjoy this while it lasts, because it just can’t get any better. I couldn’t raise my rates forever and there were only so many hours in a year. Plus, rarely does an independent consultant move seamlessly from one project to another during an entire year as I just did.

phil simon platforms e1311440118729 Diversifying Yourself Into a Platform BusinessI thought that I needed to diversify and establish myself in different lines of business, or face dire consequences. But somehow, that didn’t seem sufficient. I strongly suspected that I would have to refine my entire business model — and maybe even blow it up. But, the world was not terribly interested in my decision to enter new lines of business — nor were many of my clients for that matter. If was going to be successful in diversifying and mitigating my own risk, I would have to build my own platform.

Phil Simon 2.0

Fast forward three years. That consulting that generated more than $200,000 in revenue for me in 2008 is now just one service line for me. I have completely transformed my business. I now get paid for website design, writing, book coaching, marketing, and more. I make money from book royalties and mobile app sales. I also started a publishing company and a public speaking practice. In large part, my ability to continue working for myself would not have been possible if I had not built an effective platform.

For three reasons, I’m glad that I started diversifying and building my platform when I did.

  • I was beginning to tire of working on the same types of highly contentious projects.
  • I wanted to tackle new challenges and continue my own professional development.
  • It was an economic imperative.

In hindsight, my timing could not have been better. By early 2009, ERP consulting had slowed to a trickle, and many of my friends in the field had either lost their jobs or had a great deal of difficulty finding work. While I have yet to replicate the financial success of 2008, and may never do so, my new business model is much more sound and resilient to risk.

I start each year with a fair amount of base income from my writing and speaking clients. What’s more, book sales generate passive income for me. Unlike years past, I no longer start at zero every year. And my platform has continued to evolve in new and unexpected ways. It generates new income and opportunities for me.

And if I can build my own platform, you can as well.

What are you doing to build a platform for yourself – or even for your company?

(image by Burtonwood + Holmes)

  • TeaSilvestre

    I blew up my previous consulting practice at the end of 2010 — mainly due to burn out and a long-distance move. I just didn’t have the energy to build the same thing over again in a different city. In May, I rebranded, relaunched and am doing something close to what I was doing before, but in a totally new way. AND I’m consciously building this time to be non-geographically specific. So if I move again, it won’t hurt.

    • Click Here to work at home

      @TeaSilvestre It’s never too late. If that’s what you do best and it makes you happy to be back on track then go for it. What matters is you knew already what went wrong and that has to do something with geography. This time you will work out on that. Good Luck :)

    • Click Here to work at home

      @TeaSilvestre

      It’s never too late. If that’s what you do best and it makes you happy to be back on track then go for it. What matters is you knew already what went wrong and that has to do something with geography. This time you will work out on that. Good Luck :)

      <a href=”http://www.wahcheck.com”>Click Here to work at home</a>

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    @toddkh @toddkh If you follow philsimon and jaybaer – I’m following YOU! :)

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      @inspireacquire sounds like a reason to follow back :) Thanks!

  • redslice

    Phil, I love this post and so timely. I’m about to revamp my company’s offerings for launch on Aug 15. I wanted to go beyond just being a branding consultant, since I’m also a published author and a freelance writer. I worked to find a brand umbrella that encompasses all of these passions, and found the right solution: storytelling (for your brand, your business or your brain). And I’m now going to be focusing on the kind of consulting work I love and am best at.

    Thank you for this timely validation that I’m taking the right risk. I’m doing this “tweak” after my business’ most successful year, but I believe that you need to evolve and grow and doing it while you are riding high is often the best time to shake things up!

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