The mind of the entrepreneur is trained to be constantly looking for opportunities. The typical entrepreneur identifies a gap in the market, creates a solution, and works relentlessly to build one startup at a time. Serial entrepreneurs are always looking to launch the next startup. They could be running two, three, four, or even more startups at once. The short answer to whether entrepreneurs should be juggling more than one startup at the same time is, preferably not.
A typical week in the life of an early-stage startup founder involves a lot of many things but very little of hardly anything. At this highly uncertain stage of the business, you work with what you learn, and you learn by putting in the work. In simple terms, the path of your venture towards success or failure is scattered with no promises or guarantees.
Your job as a startup founder is to seek and keep an eye out for key market and customer insights that can move you closer to your most important responsibility of proving a business. Now imagine doing this for two, three, four, or more startups at once.
Building a startup is one case where diversification will more likely increase startup risk and hinder performance. When you are focused on too many projects at once, what usually happens is that you end up doing OK at many of them but not exceptionally well on any. The difference between exceptional and mediocre can be significant.
Nonetheless, successful serial entrepreneurs exist. Some of them are responsible for many of today’s most successful companies. Here are three key tips that will position you to start and grow many startups at once.
1. Prove A Business Before You Start Again
Elon Musk started PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, OpenAI, and a few other successful companies. He launched PayPal in 1998, SpaceX in 2002, invested in and joined Tesla in 2004, and co-founded OpenAI in 2015. Two of Jack Dorsey’s most successful companies are Twitter and Square. Today, he leads both public companies. He started Twitter in 2006 and Square in 2009.
The serial entrepreneurial journey of Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Jack Ma, Richard Branson, and many other multi-million and billion-dollar founders prove the importance of focus in the early stages of a startup. If you want to start many ventures, prove one business at a time. Eventually, you will be running many at the same time. After all, anyone can register a company and print out CEO business cards.
2. Build Complementary Startups
Building a successful startup is a significant accomplishment. A fraction of those who start get to see their startups profitable and growing. If you get there and want to launch a new venture, consider creating complementary solutions that can help you leverage the audience, relationships, partnerships, and customers you acquired through the first venture.
The experience you gain from the first startup in terms of understanding the industry, existing solutions and key players will help you identify and capture the right opportunities, the right way. Chances are, you will move a lot faster too. In fact, research shows that serial entrepreneurs with a portfolio of overlapping businesses perform significantly better than founders running unrelated companies.
3. Hire The Best And Delegate
This goes without saying but the most important factor in your ability to run and scale many ventures at once is your ability to build a team and delegate work. Your startup may prove its solution within a few months of launch, but it can take years to establish a stable position in the market. In fact, many startups got all the way to an IPO and failed.
The point is, while you need a team to fuel your startup machine, it is your job to make sure the machine is moving in the right direction. If you don’t have the time or the experience, hire an entrepreneurial CEO to take over. This may be a costly option if you are bootstrapped, but keep in mind that the cost of a lack of commitment may be higher and can cause startup failure.
In conclusion, to succeed in business, you need focus and commitment. Successful serial entrepreneurs are particularly great at establishing businesses, hiring, and setting a clear direction for their team. My advice for serial entrepreneurs is not to be afraid to start many ventures at the same time but only to quickly eliminate the ideas that won’t work. Focus on the one that works. Prove it, delegate, and repeat.