Some entrepreneurs seem to be born to run multiple businesses. Look at someone like Sir Richard Branson, who has been involved with nearly 400 ventures, and is still dreaming up new business ideas. On the other hand, not every entrepreneur excels at running more than one business. Take Steve Jobs, who famously struggled when trying to simultaneously run Apple and Pixar.
The Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur report, recently released for 2017, found that many entrepreneurs are juggling multiple businesses. In fact, 26 percent of US small business owners surveyed are currently running more than one organization.
Running multiple businesses comes with a lot of rewards, but also a lot of risks. If you're up for the challenge, here are a few things to consider:
Hire good people
Even the most capable entrepreneurs can't do it all, and the most successful ones know this. Bring on people who have a solid understanding of the industry you're in, and trust them to do what they do best. Try to make sure the people that you hire will be able to run the business on their own one day, just in case you want to move onto to the next big opportunity.
It's worth noting that when you're hiring someone for a role as important as running one of your businesses, you will want to ensure that the people that they are trustworthy beyond reproach. To prevent workplace theft, never give one person end to end responsibility for accounting or accounts payable, be sure to conduct lawful background checks, and promote a culture of trustworthiness and integrity.
Know what you don't know.
This is related to the first suggestion. Successful serial entrepreneurs know what they are good at - and what they're not. If you don't know, here's a hint: You're usually good at what you like to do. Hand off the tasks you're not good at (or that you don't like) to someone who does those things well. For example, if, like many CEO's, you're a "big picture" strategist, your business may benefit from the expertise of a strong technical manager who can help with drive growth through a rigid focus on process.
Leverage assets between organizations.
If appropriate, having one office for multiple businesses lets you easily share assets between your businesses. Functions like payroll, purchasing, and sometimes even sales and marketing can sometimes be shared under one administrative umbrella. For example, if you run a coffee shop business with multiple locations it's possible that you'll have several suppliers and vendors for each location. By centralizing your accounts payable department, you can work more efficiently, ensuring that all vendors are paid on time.
Learn from your failures.
Successful serial entrepreneurs don't make the same mistake twice, and they draw on the lessons they learned the first time around. One of the biggest advantages you'll realize when starting your second business is that you won't make the same mistake twice, giving you a leg-up on the competition right from the start. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is famous now, but his initial idea for Amazon Marketplace was called zShops. The business never took off, but Bezos was able to use his experience to build one of the fastest growing retailers in the world.
Maintain your work-life balance.
Every entrepreneur struggles with this at one time or another, and for those running two or more businesses it can be even more challenging. Keep in mind that the right balance is what is right for you. There may be times when you feel it's necessary to work 18 hours a day in order to get your business off the ground. If that's the case, taking a forced vacation is only going to stress you out more. So, do whatever makes you less stressed, whether that is staying late in the office or relaxing by the pool. The time will come when you'll be able to schedule the down time and you should - relaxing and recharging will only help improve your business in the long run.
Once you've started a business and gotten it off the ground, you may find that you have the itch to start another. Putting the lessons you've learned from your first enterprise to work can help pave the way for success in future startups.