Pick five qualities that you associate strongly with entrepreneurship – did you list risk taking, passion, profit making, vision, boredom… yes, boredom! If you didn’t include the last one, think again, for it’s one of the prime factors that have led to a new breed – the serial entrepreneur.
A serial entrepreneur is one who doesn’t do things in half measures. (Either that, or he just doesn’t get it!) Starting and moving on from one business to another is part of his genetic makeup. First, there’s the purebred serial entrepreneur who flirts with business after business, leaving behind a fair share of successes and failures; the other is either more daring or a hybrid entrepreneur-manager (depending on how you choose to view it) who straddles more than one business at a go. But, both are joined at the hip when it comes to one characteristic – they never know when (or perhaps the word is “how”) to stop.
Most serial entrepreneurs will profess their dislike for day to day management of a running business that they were only too glad to start-up. While they are gung-ho about meeting the challenges of a fresh start – outlining vision, raising funds and drawing up business plans, they seem to lose it a bit when it comes to taking their business to the next level. And when the novelty of starting out wears off, that’s when the serial entrepreneur bolts the stable! Even those that choose to stay with multiple businesses long after the initial stage, hire a team of capable managers providing the perfect foil to their own “non-managerial” persona.
It’s also rare to find a serial entrepreneur with a passion for a particular product or industry – that’s almost a contradiction in terms. Rather, this breed has its sights firmly trained on more important matters – the bottom line, growth potential or cash flow, for instance. Most will confess that they don’t really care what widget they make, as long as it makes them some pretty money!
If you’re a wannabe serial entrepreneur, you might like to take a few lessons from those that have been there, done that.
You must optimize resources. The advantage of starting a second or third business is that the first one can help you get a head start. Take resources like cash, people or IT infrastructure, for example. Don’t duplicate these across businesses – leverage your existing sales force to cross sell; build a group website rather than individual company sites; and combine administrative functions like recruitment and accounting.
It gets easier. Each experience takes you up a couple of notches. A previous history of setting up a company will add the credibility that is so essential to opening new doors.
Be prepared to move on. Failure is probably a more important part of serial entrepreneurship than success. While you don’t have to look forward to it, don’t dread it either; certainly don’t be disheartened by it. As the wise folks at myGoals.com advise, failure, especially by a small margin, is found to be a huge motivator, and serial entrepreneurs must learn to accept the higher risk associated with running multiple businesses. Remember, being a serial entrepreneur is a bit of a long haul; you have to stay in the game to win it.