About 30 years ago I saw actor Michael Caine being interviewed by Michael Parkinson. For some reason, one question, and the answer given, has always stuck with me.
Parkie asked Caine why he concentrated on films and didn’t seem interested in theatre like most other thespians of his generation.
“Why do theatre?” he asked back. “You have to do the same thing over and over every night. With film, you only have to do it once and the pays better.”
I was reminded of the interview when I read an interesting story this week about Vidal Sassoon, and how he moved from being hairdresser to the stars to an International brand. Sassoon and Caine were part of the same social circle back in the 1960’s, and the two of them got talking about how Vidal’s business was going…and it was going well.
He’d developed a new way of cutting and styling hair and was in huge demand. His clients included the likes of Twiggy, Mary Quant, Jean Shrimpton and all the top vogue models. Sassoon was pretty pleased with himself, but Michael Caine was less impressed. After a drunken evening, he felt compelled to give his friend some advice.
He told Sassoon that he was doing alright, and making “a few bob”, but he’d never get rich cutting hair. Vidal wanted to know what he meant, and so Caine expanded. Everybody wanted him to cut their hair personally, and he was just one man. There was a limit to how much hair he could cut and hence, how much money he could make. To hammer the point home, he offered a piece of advice given to him by his own cockney father…
“You need to get something going for you that works when you’re asleep.”
He pointed out that this was what film actors do, what pop stars do and what all wealthy people do.
Sassoon had never thought about it that way before, but that conversation transformed his fortunes. A year later he started the Sassoon Academy in Mayfair, to teach his method of hair styling and these academies spread all over the world. Next came a range of hair products which were sold through the academies and by their former students. By 1982, sales were $110 Million, which is around half a billion dollars in today’s money.
The motivation and influence behind Caine’s reply to Michael Parkinson all those years ago, is all too clear from this story. Of course he’d rather work in film than the theatre. The former offers the opportunity to make money while you’re asleep, the latter doesn’t. And I think there’s a message here for any aspiring or working entrepreneur.
Does your business venture or idea give you the opportunity to make money while you’re asleep? If it doesn’t, there’s a very definite cap on the amount of money you can ever make from it. Even a top Barrister, being paid £2,000 a day has a cap on what he can earn. Any ‘business’ where you only make money if you’re there doing all the work, isn’t really business at all. It’s a job. Okay, it might be a well paid job, but it’s still a job.
And so, if you find yourself in this position, you have to do one of two things – find a way to make money from it while you’re asleep, like Vidal Sassoon…or find another business.
So how might you turn your only-get-paid-when-you’re-working business into one that works for you when you’re asleep, or not there, which amounts to the same thing? Well there are a number of things you can do. Not all of them will be applicable to every business, but something may strike a chord:
- Employ people and train them to do what you do to the same level
- Open new centres or branches
- Franchise the business
- Licence the business
- Register and licence your intellectual property
- Use sales agents
- Create a range of products to compliment your service
- Sell products via retailers and distributors
- Sell products via direct response
- Write a book relating to your business
- Create a monetised website relating to your business
- Create video content relating to your business
- Create an app relating to your business
- Teach others to do what you do via a process you do just once.
There are many ways to create additional income streams from a ‘doing it’ type business, and they each break the link between income and work. Over the long haul, this has to happen in any business that is going to go much beyond “making a few bob”’ as Michael Caine put it.
So how will you start making money while you’re asleep?