Here are a few ideas about how you can juggle multiple business interests:
Bed down your first business before starting another
Starting a new business venture has a major strain on your time and your money for at least a few months. If you try to start two businesses at nearly the same time, one or both will suffer from the lack of focus. Be careful of overcommitting yourself when you have limited capital, time and energy to spend. Ideally, your first business should be stable and provide you with a constant income before you try to launch the next one.
The problem that many entrepreneurs face is not a shortage of (seemingly) good business ideas and opportunities, but an excess of them. Pick your projects carefully and dedicate enough resources to them to give them a good chance of taking off. But also be brave enough to walk away when a side project will not be a success.
Hire a talented team
If you want to run multiple businesses, you will need to accept the fact that you’ll need to delegate more of the day-to-day operations to your team. It’s important to find people who you trust and work well with so that you can be comfortable leaving them to get on with it while you’re busy elsewhere. It can work well to share skills across your businesses and work with the same external consultants.
Get advice about how to structure your businesses
When you decide to diversify, you’ll need to look at the right structure for your different businesses. It might make sense to simply add your new line of business to an existing company, or to treat it as an associate, or to set it up as a completely new company. Discuss the pros and cons with your financial and legal advisors, with a view to minimising risk and optimising cost efficiencies.
Share infrastructure and skills where you can
Don’t double up on skills, services and infrastructure when it isn’t necessary. For example, you might be able to share an IT backbone, receptionist and an office between two or more businesses. As an extension to this thought, if you’re thinking about expanding into a new business or market, why not look at ideas that can leverage off the skills, infrastructure and assets you already have in place?
Be a time management and multitasking master
- Use IT systems to save you time—ditch the spreadsheets and use proper accounting and payroll software, for example.
- Learn to prioritise: perhaps focus on sales first, then marketing and admin.
- Make time first thing in the morning or at the end of the day to take care of admin and email when there is no one else in the office to distract you.
- Schedule your time carefully.
- Outsource low-value tasks or delegate them to juniors.
Take South African serial entrepreneur Shezi Ntuthuko for example, who says that being an entrepreneur “does become easy after the first 10.” It takes hard work and human sacrifice to turn a dream business idea into a way of life. It is the entrepreneurial spirit that makes the difference all over the world.
Author, Anton van Heerden, Executive Vice-President, Africa & Middle East at Sage