If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to own multiple businesses and succeed, many entrepreneurs do own more than one business at once. Some people own a main business and a side business, and some have numerous full-fledged completely separate companies – and are thriving.
So if you’re looking for tips on owning multiple businesses at the same time, you may want to consider the following:
1. Use co-working spaces or shared offices.
Using co-working spaces or shared offices works for some companies, and it won’t for others. If you have a gas station, for instance, you could have a franchise restaurant operating in your gas station. That’s a common approach that you’ll see some business owners take.
Or you might have several completely different businesses, but you run the business side from one office, which is what Gerry Romanelli does. Romanelli, based out of Greenville, South Carolina, owns multiple businesses – all franchises. He own a UNITS Moving and Portable Storage franchise, two Hounds Town Doggie Day Care franchises, a FranServe Consulting franchise, and three Furry Land Mobile Pet Grooming franchises, with plans to open up four more before the year is up.
From Romanelli’s office, he says that he’s able to work “on the business, not in the business. As someone who has extensive experience managing remote teams, I don't have the need to see the team and be in the weeds every day.”
Romanelli adds: “All the franchises have great technology that allows you to see what is going on, no matter where you are. I examine the data, ask questions when necessary, and then allow the people I hire to do the job they were hired to do. From there I try to build incentives that allow team members to share in the success by motivating them to excel without having someone looking over their shoulder every minute.”
Where you decide to locate your multiple businesses matters. Romanelli, for instance, can easily get to all of his businesses if he needs to.
2. Follow the set processes.
If you own multiple businesses, chances are you're somebody who spends time working on their business, not in their business.
In other words, you’re going to be making sure you have the right people running your businesses, the supplies that they need, making sure payroll is being met and so on. Enjoying the processes of running a business is why Romanelli became an owner of multiple franchises – after working for 30 years as a C-level executive and a minority shareowner at another company.
“I immediately gravitated towards being a franchise owner because as a former corporate VP, I appreciated proven processes and procedures,” Romanelli says.
“The most important thing I did was to follow the playbook for each franchise that I purchased,” Romanelli says. “The franchisor has spent time and money, making mistakes, building systems, and proving the concept. If you are not going to follow the process, don't buy a franchise.”
He adds: “I am a businessperson, not an entrepreneur. Franchisors are entrepreneurs. Franchise owners are businesspeople. The two often require totally different skill sets with few people possessing both.”
“When I added business number two, the biggest lesson was that I can't be a perfectionist in quite the same ways as I used to be. Some problems need to be solved later – or solved imperfectly – and that's OK." —Charles Bibilos, owner, GMAT Ninja and Cherry Bean Specialty Coffee
3. Set priorities for your businesses.
When you have multiple businesses, you’re going to have to put some issues first, front and center, over others – and yet, at the same time, each business is going to arguably need the same amount of attention. In any case, the more businesses you own, the busier you’re going to be. In a fluid environment, what’s important one day won’t be the next, and so you may be changing your business priorities.
“Prioritize and stick with the priorities,” Romanelli says. “It is easy to fill your day with busy tasks, feel like you put in a long day, and then lament about the important but difficult things that you didn't get to. That may work if you are an employee on someone else's payroll but not when the buck stops with you.”
Romanelli says that one way he sets business priorities is to tackle any work that he doesn’t enjoy doing first. Once he does that, he can feel more free to focus on other tasks more effectively and without distraction.
4. Try not to sweat the small stuff.
Charles Bibilos is new to the world of multiple businesses. He has two, but they’re completely different, he says, which makes it more challenging than it might sound.
“When I added business number two, the biggest lesson was that I can't be a perfectionist in quite the same ways as I used to be. Some problems need to be solved later – or solved imperfectly – and that's OK. But it was hard to make peace with all of that at first,” Bibilos says.
But he has made the best of it – and has kept a good attitude throughout. “I'm constantly learning things at each business that helps with the other,” Bibilos says. “For example, managing a team of baristas has made me better – I think! – at creating a strong culture at the tutoring business. It's just a question of looking for opportunities to learn from each business in ways that help the other.”
5. Use tools to help ensure efficiency.
The more businesses you have, the more to-do lists you have to go along with them.
Still, the more you can streamline and standardize your processes can help, says Adenah Bayoh, who owns four IHOP locations in New Jersey. She also co-founded Cornbread, a soul food restaurant with three locations (two in New Jersey and one in Brooklyn), and she owns Brick City Vegan, a 100% vegan fast casual restaurant in downtown Newark.
Bayoh was 27 years old when she bought her first franchise, an IHOP.
“I was told by numerous banks that this wouldn’t be a successful business venture, but I’m proud to say that I opened my doors in 2007, and by 2010, IHOP in Irvington was the fastest growing IHOP in the Northeast,” Bayoh says, who is based out of Irvington, New Jersey.
“Once I got my feet wet in the world of managing businesses, I was hooked,” Bayoh says. And she encourages anyone who wants to own multiple businesses and be a business success to not be discouraged.
“Something I always tell young and inspired future leaders is that there will never be a right or perfect time to start chasing your dreams,” Bayoh says. “Sure, there are countless external factors beyond our control, like inflation and other economic or socioeconomic issues. However, in my opinion, the right time to chase your dreams is all the time.”
Bayoh says that the more you can streamline and standardize your processes across your businesses, perhaps with industry-specific management tools, the better off you can be.
“By creating templates, best practices, and standardized procedures, you can ensure consistency and efficiency,” she says.
Bayoh is a fan of time tracking tools – or anything you’re able to do to manage your time.
“Maintaining a well-structured schedule is crucial. A great calendar, along with time management techniques, helps me allocate time to each business and prioritize tasks. Tools like calendars, task lists, and a strong filing system can be incredibly beneficial in staying organized and on top of everything,” Bayoh says.
6. Keep reports on each business to gauge results and maintain accountability.
Business goals and results are really important for any organization, but when you’re juggling multiple businesses, you really want to be keeping reports on how you’re doing, so you can track your companies’ progress.
If you’re going to debut a new product, you’ll want to have plenty of data before the launch. If it’s growth within the year or a particular quarter that you’re after, you’ll want a lot of numbers to show your progress.
“Regularly reviewing the performance of each business is vital,” Bayoh says. “Analyze key metrics and KPIs to identify areas that need improvement or where you can leverage opportunities. This data-driven approach helps in making informed decisions and optimizing your businesses for success.”
7. Work with your team to help balance the workload.
Although every business is different, if you have a team of people you're managing, you should be in touch on a regular basis, perhaps by communicating on a workforce management platform. Your leadership style is important, too, Bayoh says. For starters, you need to trust your people and not feel like you have to micromanage.
“One of the key factors in managing multiple businesses is building a strong team and trusting them to handle day-to-day operations. Hiring competent managers and delegating responsibilities is essential. Your team can indeed be a game-changer. They can oversee operations and ensure that each business is running smoothly,” Bayoh says.
8. Bring in experts to handle certain aspects of the company.
If you are going to run multiple businesses, whether you’re outsourcing your business processes or utilizing employees from your own teams, you never want to shortchange your businesses by having the wrong people at the helm.
For instance, Bibilos’ online test-prep tutoring business is so different than his coffeehouse, he says, “it's hard to use the same staff or vendors for both. I even use different accountants and different digital marketing consultants.”
What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another, Bayoh says. “It’s essential to adapt these strategies to your specific circumstances and businesses while remaining flexible and open to change," she says. "Ultimately, the key to successfully managing multiple businesses lies in effective delegation, organization, and a clear vision for each venture.”
A version of this article was originally published on July 17, 2017.
Photo: Getty Images