It’s every startup’s dream to become a unicorn nowadays. As an indie maker it might be better to aim to become a centipede, I think. To be able to run more than one business model with a single product makes you less vulnerable for setbacks.
A unicorn is a term in business world to indicate a privately held startup company valued at over $1.000.000.000, such as Airbnb, Uber and Dropbox. The term was coined in 2013 by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, choosing the mythical animal to represent the statistical rarity of such successful ventures.
Because of this rarity, chances are huge you won’t make it this far. This might be a good reason for indie makers to shift their attention to another strategy.
I think a multi business model approach is something that develops naturally. As it’s important to keep focus, ideally you stick with one product and expand its revenue stream through the years.
Most makers start with selling a simple one-off product, or a subscription service. This is a good way to get started. With most products, over time you’ll discover they are also marketable to businesses, or vice versa when you start as a B2B product.
It starts getting interesting when you can start a new revenue stream that not depends on the same marketing channel.
For my passport photo product I started out in 2010 as a consumer website. The only channel has always been SEO. Because of my constant attention on improving this channel, the website now has almost 1.000 pages on the topic (passport photos), making it (one of) the most important sources for Google to point users to that search for something related to it.
Because of this, I can easily add new pages about the topic and rank immediately with them. This really makes the website a piece of online real estate. I came to the point where I can ask competing photographers to pay for native ads on their city’s landing page on my website. The channel for this revenue stream is cold emailing.
Furthermore, because the photo app always has been developed further in those 10 years, its quality at one point was good enough that companies like universities, hospitals and corporates started to want to use the app for their businesses. This was yet another additional revenue stream for me, with a different channel again (word of mouth).
By running all of these models simultaneously, using different channels, I’m decreasing my vulnerability for threats, such as government changes, drastically.