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How to start a second business without completely upending your life (again)

So, you’ve already founded the business of your dreams and things are going well—you’ve put together a great team, you’re making a profit and experiencing consistent year-on-year growth. You’ve also long ago transcended that chaotic startup phase and are finally starting to regain some balance in your life. But then, out of the middle of nowhere (probably around 3am on a Tuesday) comes the thought, What if I start a second business?

Why? Seriously—why?

Because you’re an entrepreneur, that’s why. You need a new challenge, something to get the adrenaline and creative juices searing through your veins again. You want to use all the lessons you learned from starting that first business to get the second one off the ground in a smoother and perhaps less hair-raising manner. This time it’ll be different—no more 18-hours days, no more impossible standards in the fight for perfection; this time you’ll let other people take some control…

Whether you believe any of that is one thing, but it is actually possible to start and run a second business without it completely upending your life (again). Here are three suggestions:

Prepare to… delegate

Overhead shot of three woman working together at a desk.
Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

If you think you’re overwhelmed running one business, imagine how it’s going to be running two. Unless you don’t plan on sleeping again, ever, you’re going to need to think intelligently and strategically about how to spread responsibilities.

And easy way to do this is to employ the right people from the very beginning. During the interview process, look for individuals who have a similar mindset to yours, and want to contribute to your vision for the business.

Similarly, get people who are great at the things you’re not so good at and learn to let go and allow them to get on with it. This way, you’ll free up more time to give full focus to your strengths and to high-level tasks.

If you don’t have the means to employ a full staff yet, you could outsource some tasks—there are loads of talented freelancers out there who will often go above and beyond to ensure they remain on your books. Studies show that delegating certain components of your startup, such as marketing and administration, can free up as much as 40% more time for you—what more justification do you need?

Share your time wisely between each business

Person holding sand in hands as it runs through fingers.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Once your second business is up and running (but still in the startup phase) you might find yourself wanting to spend more time with it than with your other business. It is, after all, a new toy, and you’re excited to see what it can do.

Needless to say, this isn’t good—you risk neglecting aspects of your first business while trying to get the other to grow. The only way to stop this happening is to look at your diary each week and decide how much time your going to spend on each business.

Some weeks it’ll mostly be the first business, others maybe the startup needs more of your attention. Just make sure you’re not scheduling hours for the sake of it—there’s no guilt in spending more hours on one and less on the other some weeks, as long as they’re focused and purposeful.

Use the same location for both businesses (at first)

Initially using the same location for both businesses is a good idea, especially in the startup phase because it’ll reduce initial costs and encourage collaboration between established and burgeoning teams. A single location will also save you time—a crucial resource at this point.

However, once the second business is more established, moving it to its own location is an effective way of separating the two businesses and giving the time you spend on each a more definite structure. Ideally, with time always a crucial factor, you want both businesses to be within walking distance of each other. This way, not only can you transfer quickly between both, you’ll be getting some exercise and fresh air.

Businessman walking in the sun.
A little stroll between businesses is a great way to get new ideas flowing.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

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