The term “serial entrepreneur” isn’t very common in business circles, but I believe that some people are built for that kind of practice. A serial entrepreneur is an entrepreneur who continuously comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses. As opposed to a typical entrepreneur, who will often come up with a single idea, start the company, then see it through and play an important role in the day-to-day functioning of said company.
A serial entrepreneur will often come up with an idea and get things started, but then give responsibility to someone else and move on to a new idea and a new venture. This would have been a very bad practice in the days when the old cliché held sway, “a Jack of all trades is master of none.” In my opinion I think the 21st century has become “the century of the Jacks.”
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As a serial entrepreneur myself, I know how challenging it is to leave the comfort of a thriving business and step out into the icy cold waters of starting a business again, much less in a different industry. However, in 2017, I decided to stop suppressing all my new and unique ideas and just get on with it. Here are a few indispensable tools to help anyone out there with the same tendencies.
1. Work with people and partners.
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice I will give to anyone who is intending to go into areas of business that excite them, but that they are not particularly gifted in. As a lawyer and entrepreneur, I started my jump into entrepreneurship by leaping into property management, which was vaguely related to my job as a lawyer, so I was safe and had sufficient knowledge to run the business.
Sometime last year, I began toying with the idea of starting a business in the food industry. I am not a very good cook, and I know nothing about baking or confectioneries. All I had was a keen interest in the vast potential of the business in my vicinity and a few ideas about how I could make money from it.
Since I had no practical knowledge, I partnered up with someone who was doing the same thing on a much smaller scale, and we launched a food line. I funded the business kickoff, and he started managing the business itself. A good entrepreneur will do well in any business once he has the right people around him, either as partners or employees. You hold on to your knowledge of business and work with people of skill in the areas of your interest.
2. Pay others and utilize platforms.
If you are like me and refuse to let go of the thriving business while moving into new territory, then you need this key to survive. The internet revolution has created a lot of ease within different industries. Platforms and freelancers are now fast becoming the norm, especially in areas like marketing and social media management.
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However, the proliferation of the internet has also severely digitalized business processes and few people are thinking of employing full time IT staff at the start of a new business.
A plethora of platforms run by companies and freelancers will help you position and market your business for a minimal fee. I found resources like Yelp especially useful for creating some positive social review that customers can refer and add to.
A few resources have also received positive reviews by business leaders. Resources like MOGUL offer you an amazing showcasing platform. Accounting platforms like Quickbooks and online firms like Pushdigits have a proven track record in the accounting and bookkeeping industry, while resources like Program Ace have had consistent success in utilizing iOT and AI to help businesses remain relevant in an increasingly digitalized business space.
Creating a Linkedin company page will significantly increase your reach with clients/customers. There is really no need for you to do everything yourself. The advantage is that starting a new business may not take as much attention away from your already existing business.
AI and social media marketing are all the rage these days. The time for excuses is gone, and the era of the serial entrepreneur is really here.
3. Prepare for surprises, and develop a thick skin.
Starting a new business can be draining, and I won’t kid you into thinking it is easy. It implies getting into uncharted territory. I have learned that while asking questions and market surveys are very important, they will never reveal the full extent of the unique challenges that you are going to face.
I started my food venture by doing a market survey of business prospects. I asked questions and got a feel of how much it would cost me to launch the product, but no one told me that the ancillary costs would be almost as much as the substantive cost. No one told me how sluggish contracted professionals in that field could be and how much their sloppiness would cost me. I had to take it on the chin and keep going, business hazards and all.
4. Do different things or do things differently.
If you are going to start a new business, you need to make sure you make a statement. The thing with ideas is that no one really owns them. I remember walking into a store to introduce my product last year. I was so psyched that it was a unique product. Halfway into my conversation with the manager, she pointed to a product on display behind me and asked “something like that?”
Needless to say, I had to go back and work on the uniqueness of my product before introducing it to the market. Every serial entrepreneur has to deal with some level of divided focus; you need to make sure that it is over something worth it and not something too familiar.
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5. Create firm structures to maintain focus.
I have always been a bit of a do-it-yourself person. I found it really difficult to employ a manager in my business, and so I found it hard to start a new business. I always wanted to be in control. However, one of the inevitable lessons every serial entrepreneur must learn is how to delegate.
Delegation is the number one strategy for success in serial entrepreneurship. Find people you trust, or learn to trust the people you have. Find people with similar values and drive, and give them a chance to flounder and learn.
You need to create systems that allow you time to develop new ideas and implementation strategies. It often means that a chunk of your profits go into salaries, but if serial entrepreneurship and building an empire is what you really want to do, then it’s a sacrifice you have to be willing to make.
The 21st century and technology has not just made serial entrepreneurship possible, it has made it appealing.