Christophor Jurin is the Founder and CEO of Construct-Ed, Inc., an e-learning technology startup that has been established with the primary goal of empowering members of the construction industry through training and learning opportunities.
Entrepreneurs are skilled at recognizing problems, however subtle they may be, and devising a solution that turns problems into opportunities. Creating a sustainable business that meets the needs of the market is the goal every entrepreneur aspires to accomplish. But what happens when an entrepreneur is already engaged in leading an established and successful business? Do the ideas for new products, services or entire new enterprises stop just because they are otherwise committed?
To the contrary, current responsibilities can actually aid the creative process, leading serial entrepreneurs to recognize new opportunities that require solutions. After all, most solutions have applications and a market potential beyond that founder's current business.
In my career, I have been given the opportunity to develop new ventures while leading our family's construction business. These opportunities include establishing new business ventures as well as new locations for existing businesses. The experiences of building on these opportunities have yielded valuable insight into what can make these ventures successful.
While starting a new enterprise might feel overwhelming when you're already engaged in a profitable venture, it doesn't have to be. If you're thinking about starting a second (or third) venture, here are seven pointers that may help:
1. Establish strong financial health.
When starting the new company, the other companies in your portfolio may suffer early on as your team learns to self-manage. It is important that these other companies are strong financially so that they can withstand the changes that occur when you are not present on a full-time basis.
2. Create bench depth.
As the founder, you must make sure that a member of the team is being groomed to take the leadership role for the day-to-day business operations at your first company. Once you start diverting your attention to the new startup, the problems that your business encounters now will still exist. This requires a day-to-day leader to make decisions and guide the company through those headwinds in your absence.
3. Build a solid company culture.
The culture of your current company should be positive and cohesive. That culture should also not center around you, its leader. If it is leader-centric, you will find that leaving the organization to focus on the new startup will create a void that can unravel the culture of the company and put its future success in jeopardy. Establish a culture that promotes interdependence among the team members.
4. Create KPIs and success metrics.
You want to encourage your current team to work towards established goals. When you start a second company, you will also want to be able to review the performance of the company from a 30,000-foot level without having to look into the granular detail. In order to facilitate a self-policing team, create KPIs (key performance indicators). These "pulse points" will help your team quickly assess the vitals of the company and promptly alert you if trouble is brewing.
5. Leverage technology to enhance communications.
The need for enhanced communications is paramount when establishing a new enterprise, especially while maintaining other businesses. Leverage technology tools and apps that enhance communications among team members such as Podio, Skype and Google Hangout, especially if your teams and companies are geographically diversified.
6. Operate complementary businesses.
For many founders, it is easiest to establish a startup in a similar space as already existing businesses. This allows you to leverage your knowledge, skills and abilities across the organizations in order to maximize personal impact and effectiveness.
7. Maintain centralized operations.
Managing multiple companies simultaneously is difficult. The difficulty is compounded when those companies are spread out geographically. By maintaining a centralized location for all companies, you can better interact with the teams working in each business. In addition, there may also be opportunities to better leverage existing assets into multiple businesses if the business operations are in one place.
Finally, in many situations, entrepreneurs exploring the possibility of establishing a new business will use their current assets to fund the new startup. But this is risky--if the existing business suffers and is negatively impacted financially, the overall business portfolio may be at risk. Don't let your new company kill the goose that lays the golden egg, putting the entire portfolio at risk.