He­laine Olen The right way—and wrong way—to be­come a se­rial en­tre­pre­neur

The right—and wrong— way to be­come a se­rial en­tre­pre­neur

Inc. (USA) - - CONTENTS - He­laine Olen is a vet­eran per­sonal fi­nance jour­nal­ist, the au­thor of Pound Fool­ish: Ex­pos­ing the Dark Sideof the Per­sonal Fi­nance In­dus­try, and the co-au­thor of The In­dexCard: Why Per­sonal Fi­nance Doesn’t Have to BeCom­pli­cated. He­laine Olen

THERE’S A MO­MENT that comes all too of­ten when I in­ter­view en­trepreneurs. When asked to iden­tify their busi­ness, they tell me there’s not just one. Or two. Some­times there are even more.

Take Stephen Gold­mann, a prin­ci­pal in the San Fran­cisco–based food-and-restau­rant con­sult­ing busi­ness the Culi­nary Edge. He’s also a co-founder of Star­bird Chicken, a chicken shack fi­nanced by the Culi­nary Edge’s ven­ture fund. And he’s a co-founder of and an in­vestor in Mind­ful Meats, an or­ganic beef com­pany, and a part­ner in Seed + Salt, an or­ganic ve­gan restau­rant— which Gold­mann and his part­ner, se­rial en­tre­pre­neur and mar­ket­ing guru Mo Clancy, might soon use to launch a pack­aged-food line.

Yet Gold­mann says he’s not over­whelmed. “They are all food,” he ex­plains. “It feels like I’m not think­ing about mul­ti­ple prob­lems, but one prob­lem and dif­fer­ent ways to tackle that.”

Rea­sons for start­ing mul­ti­ple busi­nesses vary, from the lure of bring­ing in in­come from sev­eral sources to the sort of rest­less­ness that drives you to go out on your own in the first place. “Most en­trepreneurs I know get bored when a busi­ness fully ma­tures,” says Jeff Kear, a se­rial en­tre­pre­neur who is now the co-owner of Plan­ning Pod, a web-based event-reg­is­tra­tion soft­ware ap­pli­ca­tion. If this sounds fa­mil­iar, how can you suc­cess­fully pull off this pro­fes­sional jug­gling act?

First, make sure all of your en­tre­pre­neur­ial ef­forts are prac­ti­cally re­lated and take ad­van­tage of your ex­ist­ing ex­per­tise, so you can eas­ily track how each is do­ing. “You need to know if you are hav­ing a good day or a bad day with­out giv­ing it a lot of thought,” says Ste­wart Thorn­hill, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Zell Lurie In­sti­tute for En­tre­pre­neur­ial Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan. Many learn this les­son the hard way. Made­line John­son, a long­time mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant, was run­ning her com­pany out of a New York City co-work­ing space when she re­al­ized many of her fel­low denizens were eat­ing too much junk food. So she started bring­ing in home- cooked meals and snacks to sell. “I was mak­ing food at 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., but my copy was late and I was miss­ing dead­lines,” she says. “It was a mess. My health, my re­la­tion­ships, and my other busi­nesses were be­ing com­pro­mised—in­clud­ing the one I had had for 18 years.”

She walked away from the idea af­ter a six­month trial pe­riod, but she still itched to do some­thing new. This time, how­ever, she stuck to what she knew, and set up an on­line se­ries of classes that teach en­trepreneurs about pro­mot­ing their work. It’s a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of her con­sult­ing busi­ness, John­son says: “I can take the cus­tomers and clients I al­ready have and of­fer them a new ser­vice.”

When you own mul­ti­ple busi­nesses, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that no one is an is­land. You need to know your lim­its. Gold­mann, for ex­am­ple, al­ways un­der­takes his en­tre­pre­neur­ial ef­forts with oth­ers, so the busi­ness can ben­e­fit from each part­ner’s dif­fer­ent strengths. In some cases, he’s pro­vid­ing the money mus­cle, while his part­ner is pri­mar­ily run­ning the busi­ness. “That’s the dif­fer­ence between be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur and be­ing an in­vestor,” he ex­plains.

Fi­nally, don’t con­fuse your­self with well-known bil­lion­aire en­trepreneurs and gu­rus like Richard Bran­son and Elon Musk, who can man­age a seem­ingly lim­it­less num­ber of com­pa­nies at the same time. “They have their rep­u­ta­tion. That’s dif­fer­ent from try­ing to boot­strap and hus­tle a busi­ness,” Thorn­hill cau­tions. “Bran­son is a hold­ing com­pany that holds com­pa­nies, and has pro­fes­sion­als to run all of them.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.