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Generating passive income takes your business to the next level by bringing in money even when you're not actively working. Unlike active income that relies on you putting in time and effort, passive income flows in automatically once systems and products are in place. This gives you more freedom over your schedule and life.
For Ashville business owners, passive income opportunities abound in this scenic city. From digital products to real estate rentals, there are numerous ways to create ongoing revenue streams that require little maintenance. The key is finding the right approach that aligns with your expertise and assets.
One of the simplest passive income models is affiliate marketing. This involves promoting products or services and receiving a commission for each sale, lead or other action. Affiliate programs are offered by large companies like Amazon as well as small businesses. The beauty is you earn money by sharing links and content without ever handling the product.
Ashville resident Jen Sinclair took her blog From My Carolina Home to the next level with affiliate links. She shares decor, gardening and lifestyle tips while featuring relevant products. This provides extra earnings each month with minimal added effort. "Affiliate marketing allows me to monetize my site without a lot of extra work," Jen explains.
Another worthwhile passive income strategy is selling digital products like eBooks, online courses, templates and more. The upfront work lies in creating the product, but after that, each sale is pure profit. Ashville chef Daniel West used his culinary expertise to develop an online cooking course. He spent months filming recipes and writing lessons. Now the course earns him residual income month after month.
Licensing products, photos or designs can be a lucrative passive income source too. Ashville wedding planner Amy Bell earns royalties from a book she wrote five years ago. She also licenses some of her event planning templates and checklists. This brings in steady earnings from work she did previously.
Passive real estate investing is hugely popular in the Ashville area too. This involves buying rental properties and hiring a property manager to oversee them. Cash flow comes from monthly rents while the property appreciates in value over time. Local investors Tom Cook and Heather Long have amassed an impressive rental portfolio over the past decade.
As an Asheville business owner, nothing is more valuable than your time. When you automate routine tasks and streamline systems, you free up precious hours to focus on the work only you can do. This liberates your schedule so you can devote energy to high-impact priorities.
According to the 2021 Asheville Small Business Survey, 68% of entrepreneurs spend too much time on administrative duties. Automation presents a pathway to taking back your calendar. Tech tools can handle repetitive jobs like data entry, customer service, accounting, social media and more.
"I used to spend 15 hours a week replying to simple customer emails. Now I have chatbots and auto-responders that address many frequent questions," explains Rhys Coleman, founder of Outdoor Ascent Co. in Asheville. "This gives me time back to develop new hiking tour itineraries and strengthen partnerships."
When you don't have to manually oversee every little task, your workload becomes more strategic. Suddenly you have the bandwidth to nurture innovation, sharpen your differentiated value and elevate the customer experience.
Another major advantage of automation is improving consistency and accuracy. Humans are prone to mistakes, especially when rushed or doing rote work. Programs and scripts perform repetitive tasks precisely the same way every time. This boosts quality and professionalism across the board.
"I built standardized sales sequences and email nurturing workflows in my CRM platform. This has drastically increased my conversion rates by communicating with leads consistently at each stage," says Asheville digital marketer Kim Kowalski.
Outsourcing time-intensive tasks can also free you from daily drudgery. Experts like virtual assistants, bookkeepers and social media managers all provide support so you can regain control of your schedule.
"Don't robotize the passion-driven aspects of your business like product development or client relationships," advises Lean Organization's Beth Hampson. "Leverage technology to eliminate busywork and mundane tasks so you can focus on the work only you can do best."
Outsourcing is one of the best ways to free yourself from the tasks you dislike so you can devote energy to the work you truly love. As an Asheville business owner, you likely wear many hats out of necessity. But just because you can do everything doesn"t mean you should. Focus on optimizing the jobs that best utilize your talents and passions. Then outsource or automate the rest.
Tedious administrative work like bookkeeping, appointment scheduling and returning phone calls often top the list of most despised business tasks. While certainly important, these are also prime candidates for outsourcing. Hand them off to capable assistants so you don"t have to drain your precious mental focus.
The same goes for skills that are outside your wheelhouse altogether. Constantly struggling through web design, accounting or equipment repairs can be enormously frustrating. Chances are you"ll never excel at or enjoy these duties anyway. That"s why experienced freelancers and agencies exist"to lift those burdens off your shoulders.
Samantha Davis outsourced payroll management for her 12-person restaurant after one too many late night headaches. "I just couldn"t get the hang of all the tax calculations and reporting requirements. Hiring an expert payroll service gave me such peace of mind. Now that time-suck stress is gone and I can better focus on our amazing customers."
Outsourcing provides other notable benefits beyond freeing up your schedule and reducing frustration. It often improves quality since you hand tasks off to people who specialize in that work. Customers get better results and you avoid embarrassing mistakes.
"I used to waste so much time trying to optimize our website SEO myself, but I just didn"t have the right skills," explains Brian Adams, founder of Vertigo Mountain Guides. "Our traffic and conversions have skyrocketed since hiring a digital marketing agency. I wish I had outsourced it sooner."
You also gain flexibility to scale up or down as needed. Rather than hiring full-time employees, you can use freelancers and fractional support to ebb and flow with business needs. This contains costs and retains agility.
Outsourcing does require letting go of control, which some business owners resist. Realize you can"t be the master of all trades while remaining innovative and energized in your higher-level role. Focus on overseeing outcomes and building relationships rather than micromanaging details.
"Outsourcing allows me to stay focused on big-picture vision and strategy for growing our company, not daily task lists," says REI Adventures CEO Cynthia Dunbar. "It"s empowering to trust others to handle the nuts and bolts so I can lead from my zone of genius."
Giving customers a unified experience across all channels builds trust, loyalty and sales. Yet many Asheville business owners still operate channels like separate fiefdoms rather than interconnected touchpoints. Silos emerge between brick-and-mortar stores, websites, social media, email, chatbots and more. When integration falls short, inconsistencies and gaps frustrate customers.
"We realized customers who engaged with us across multiple platforms saw a disjointed brand personality and messaging," says Devon Small, founder of Plant Shop. "They'd get one impression from our physical store, then see something totally different on Instagram or our website. We knew we had to bridge those gaps to improve the customer journey."
Creating omnichannel alignment requires looking at your business through the customer's eyes. Map their path and pinpoint exactly where and why continuity falters. Common weak points include contradictory offers, pricing discrepancies, varied branding, duplicate contacts and disjointed conversations across channels.
Technology plays a pivotal role in weaving together omnichannel experiences. Integrated CRM software centralizes all customer data and interactions from any source. This provides team members with a unified profile and history for each customer.
"Our CRM platform lets us pick up conversations seamlessly wherever customers left off, whether chatting online, emailing or calling our support line," explains Benny Boyd, owner of Blue Ridge Outfitters. "We no longer frustrate them by making customers repeat information or feel like they're starting over."
Cross-channel shopping functionalities also close frustrating gaps. Options like buy online/pick up in-store, ship from store and return in store bridge the online and offline worlds. Customers appreciate the flexibility.
Consistent branding and messaging across channels also contributes to a cohesive experience. Ensure your website, packaging, store displays, business cards and ad campaigns all align visually. Use the same tone and personality in social media, emails, chatbots and in-person conversations.
"We developed omnichannel content guides with specific suggestions for maintaining our brand voice and stylistic continuity across platforms," says Gail Hendrickson, founder of Mountain Made. "This helps every team member communicate on-brand even without constant oversight."
In today's data-rich business landscape, leveraging analytics and metrics to guide your decisions is no longer optional"it's essential. Asheville companies that fail to tap into their data severely limit their ability to identify and seize opportunities.
"We used to rely heavily on intuition and anecdotal feedback to make major strategy calls and investments. But once we implemented centralized data tracking and analytics, our decision-making became driven by concrete evidence instead of hunches and hearsay," explains Logan Cox, CEO of Mountain Adventure Tours.
Making data-informed decisions leads to smarter choices that propel growth. You spot emerging trends while they're still gaining momentum. You identify issues and roadblocks early. You gain visibility into what's working so you can double down on successful initiatives.
Endless data streams can certainly feel overwhelming initially. "The key is identifying the handful of key performance indicators that matter most for your unique business model," advises analytics expert Ava Lewis. "Then build processes and dashboards to monitor those KPIs regularly."
Ecommerce retailers like Jessie's General Store track metrics including website traffic, conversion rates, average order value and repeat purchase frequency. For their brick-and-mortar store, they analyze foot traffic, average transaction size and customer demographics. These data points inform pivotal decisions like where to expand next.
When launching new offers and campaigns, layered analytics reveals how each performs. Outdoor gear maker Mountain Made closely monitors promotion-specific metrics like click-through rates on emails, voucher redemption levels and the sales revenue or customer leads generated. This allows them to continually optimize and improve performance.
Even customer sentiment can be tracked through metrics like NPS scores, ratings, reviews and social media monitoring. Instead of guessing what their audience thinks, The Front Porch B&B leverages data to gain meaningful customer insights. This shapes decisions on where to focus service and experience improvements.
Customer reviews have become one of the most powerful sales tools at your disposal as an Asheville business owner. According to a BrightLocal survey, 91% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. And 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Face it, your potential customers are far more likely to listen to other customers than corporate marketing speak when deciding where to spend their money. That"s why cultivating a robust collection of positive reviews should be a pillar of your omnichannel sales strategy.
"When I first opened my boutique, I didn"t prioritize gathering reviews. But once I started actively requesting and sharing customer feedback online and in-store, it really accelerated word-of-mouth referrals," explains Hazel"s Boutique owner Aubrey White. She now prominently displays framed reviews in her shop and seasonal selections on her website.
The impact reviews have on conversion rates is staggering. According to BrightLocal, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Ratings and reviews reduce skepticism and establish credibility with potential customers before you ever speak to them. They address common questions and concerns so you don"t have to do as much selling.
Online reviews also boost SEO rankings by enhancing domain authority as an added perk. But their true power lies in how they influence purchase decisions. "I can almost predict how well a new workshop or retreat will sell based solely on early reviews from first-time participants. The feedback quickly motivates others to sign up," notes Mo Wolf, founder of The Center for Creative Flow.
While reviews offer free advertising, you can"t leave them solely to chance. Proactively seek out reviews from happy customers and make leaving feedback easy across channels. Train staff to politely ask customers for reviews while the positive experience is top of mind. Send email and text review requests post-purchase. Use QR codes to link to your review platform from receipts and packaging. Offer perks like discounts for leaving reviews.
Your website is the hub of your online presence, working 24/7 to attract customers, build credibility and drive revenue. But throwing up a generic site and hoping for the best yields lackluster results. To truly maximize your site"s potential, strategic search engine optimization (SEO) is essential.
SEO makes your website easily discoverable by ideal potential customers browsing related topics. It elevates your content in search rankings so you appear prominently when customers search for offerings or information you provide.
Without SEO, your phenomenal website content could remain hidden on page 25 of Google where almost no one ventures. But optimized appropriately for relevant keyword phrases, the same pages surface on page one.
The power this visibility holds is immense. According to data from Backlinko, the top 5 search results for a query receive about 67% of all clicks. That first page real estate is what you need to reach those actively looking for a business like yours.
Ashville jeweler Ava Smith understands SEO"s impact firsthand. Early on she didn"t optimize her site at all. "I figured if customers were meant to find me, they would," she admits. But once she starting working keyword phrases like "Asheville engagement rings" and "custom Asheville jewelry" into her content, traffic tripled within two months.
Title tags and meta descriptions provide prime SEO real estate on each page. Aim for titles under 60 characters that incorporate a primary keyword. Descriptions can run longer at 160 characters or so and entice searchers to click. Max out your use of targeted keywords but avoid awkward over-stuffing.
On-page content and backlinks comprise the other two cornerstones of SEO. Craft pages with customers" informational needs and search behaviors in mind. Answer their questions, provide tips and highlight your differentiators. Include keywords naturally throughout content without compromising readability.
Backlinks from reputable external websites signal credibility and relevance to search engines. Guest posting on industry blogs, securing press mentions and partnering with complementary businesses all expand your backlink profile.
Local SEO maximizes visibility for geographic customer searches. List your full address, city and state across your website. Ensure Google My Business and other directory profiles are completely filled out. Feature ample mentions of your location like "Asheville cake designer".
The road to business success is paved with repeat customers. While acquiring new customers certainly brings in revenue, retaining existing patrons fosters loyalty and exponential growth. Yet many Asheville companies focus intensely on attracting first-time buyers without dedicating equal energy to transforming them into lifelong fans. Just a 5% increase in retention can boost profits 25-95%, according to Harvard Business Review research. Clearly, nurturing lasting relationships offers tremendous upside.
"We used to believe that providing an amazing one-time experience would organically lead customers to return. But we saw over 80% were still one-and-done," explains Benny Boyd of Blue Ridge Outfitters. "Now we actively cultivate repeat business through tailored loyalty programs, client appreciation perks and consistent communication post-purchase."
That communication is pivotal"and often overlooked. Check in after the sale to ensure satisfaction, ask for reviews and address any concerns immediately. Show interest in customers' activities and goals related to your offerings. Share relevant news, tips and special offers over time to stay top of mind.
Loyalty programs incentivize repeat purchases while making clients feel valued. Progressively offer enhanced perks and pricing for reaching certain spending or tenure milestones. "Our mountain biking tour guides work hard to create amazing inaugural experiences that hook first-timers. Then our loyalty program keeps them coming back for more," notes Logan Cox, CEO of Mountain Adventure Tours.
Surprising repeat customers with spontaneity and personalization also strengthens bonds. When regulars arrive for a meal at RHline Restaurant, chef Rick Hamrick occasionally sends out acomplimentary appetizer he knows they"ll love. "I like acknowledging valued customers beyond just knowing their usual orders," he explains.
Seeking feedback demonstrates you care about creating an ever-better experience. Checking in post-purchase provides an opening for suggestions and refinement. Be sure to then follow up explaining how you'll implement input.
While arguably easiest with local patrons, retail chains can also foster loyalty nationwide. Outdoor gear maker REI famously pioneered experience-driven branding long before it became trendy. Their co-op model makes each customer an owner. Adventures, classes and community-building engage beyond transactions. And their simple 100% satisfaction guarantee removes risk from trying new gear. This iconic brand earns fervent loyalty and repeats.