By Funding Gates

As a small business, not all of your revenue has to come from the products and services  you offer. There are unconventional ways of generating revenue that can help out as well. Here, we’ve compiled a few options.


Building a referral network can be a great way to find new business and build relationships. Referrals can work with both customers and vendors. On the customer side, you can offer discounts or even store credit for successful referrals with minimal effort. Tracking of these initiatives simply requires customers to leave their names, similar to trading loyalty cards.

On the vendor side, referral networks can be both direct and indirect. You can offer similar credit or discounting for a referral like you would with customers, but you can also build relationships with complementary vendors to establish synergistic relationships. Sharing services, or working on trade-based relationships can all come in through these arrangements, saving time and potentially a little bit of money. You may also get business you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Affiliate Links

Similar to offline referral networks, affiliate links give you an online version with automated tracking. Typically affiliate links are unique URLs that businesses give other individuals or businesses to include on their websites. When a user clicks on this link a small finders fee goes into that account. Putting affiliate links on your website can generate revenue, and offering affiliate links can help you expand the reach of your brand.

Affiliate links can also be embedded in banners or other forms of visual advertising to track online ad campaigns and generate additional revenue from the links.

In-House Sponsorship

At first, in-house sponsorship may seem odd, but it’s something corporations and governments have been doing for years. Think about the products and services you offer; could you partner with other businesses and have them share in the upfront costs of a product in exchange for naming rights? Similarly, in your stores or on your website are there opportunities will you could sell advertisements of complementary products that extend your brand experience? Building in this type of inventory can give your bottom line a boost.

You may also extend this idea to your customers, by partnering with another firm on startup costs, you could have customers vote to see what the new name will be and submit their own ideas.  This way, both brands get advertisements, new awareness and a new product without having to foot the whole bill. If successful, this promotion could be repeatable.

Renting Out Space

If you maintain an office, or a store, could you rent out space? Salons do this by renting out booths, but the premise works the same way with desk space, or booth space in a store. Subletting desk space can ensure that empty desks are full, and you may be able to find a tenant that has a complementary business. Plenty of startups only need a single desk, which can be very hard to rent alone.

If you have a store, can you share some space in the back office? Or bring in another small business to offer services together and split the rent? It’s not always necessary to go it alone on renting a space when you could offer customers more services and save money.

This article was originally published on Funding Gates. Funding Gates is the world’s first CRM platform for receivables management. Serving as an online credit department for small businesses, Funding Gates is set on making managing receivables the easiest part of running a business.