Can You Balance More Than One Business?

One business can be all-consuming, but for some restless entrepreneurs, it's not enough. Here's how to know if you can handle the juggle.
September 10, 2012

Most small-business owners will tell you that they need to be efficient multi-taskers in order for their business to run smoothly. But, some business owners have to be more than efficient at handling multiple responsibilities, especially when they own more than one business.

Serial entrepreneurs are a special breed. They have the ability to focus on a variety of tasks that sometimes vary like night and day. They seemingly balance apples and oranges with grace, making it appear easy. But, interestingly enough, most would not recommend the average business owner juggle multiple businesses.

“I would only recommend this course to entrepreneurs who are extremely focused, self-motivated, self-disciplined and easily bored,” says Aimee Elizabeth, author of Poverty Sucks! How to Become a Self-Made Millionaire.

Prioritize First

Elizabeth is the quintessential serial entrepreneur. At one time she managed four businesses successfully, and now, she is an investor, a business consultant, a guest speaker and author. “I have had many start-up businesses, all of them different. I always started up the new business before selling off the old one, because I needed to see I could support myself with the new business first,” she explains.

She adds that it’s important to make sure the business that supports you gets the priority. After all, eating and having a roof over your head are key elements to your success. “The others will catch up as you get the first on auto pilot, and you can focus more on growing those to the point of putting them on business automation,” she says.

Devising plans for automating your business is perhaps the most critical piece of advice Elizabeth has to offer based upon her experience. She also explains that prioritizing your duties is essential. She suggests analyzing what tasks are most critical for making your business successful today and focusing on those tasks.

Channeling Your Inner Juggler

For Lisa Jennings, owner of Wildly Different, a team-building and networking company, and Master of the Hunt, which creates scavenger and treasure hunts, surrounding herself with a team of capable and trusting employees has made juggling two businesses doable.

“Don’t try to do it all yourself,” she says. “Hire great people, treat them right and ensure they have a vested interest in your companies succeeding, so they are as passionate about getting it done as you are.”

Jennings, like Elizabeth, works to understand what is immediately important for each of her businesses and focuses on those tasks at hand. “This may shift throughout the day,” she explains, adding that flexibility is key to owning multiple successful small businesses.

Additionally, Jennings relies on a variety of tools to help streamline her daily duties, such as shared calendars, a CRM database to track to-do lists plus alerts and reminders to keep everyone on tasks.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Jennings dedicates time to focus on herself.  “I sleep eight hours most nights, work out every morning, eat right and force myself to take long weekends from time to time to recharge my batteries. If you fail, your company will fail. If you burn out, your employees and clients will notice and people will start to get disillusioned,” she adds. But most of all she reminds us that we only get one life, so don’t forget to treat yourself right.

Enjoy the Ride

Being a small-business owner isn’t for everyone and running multiple businesses is for just the right kind of person. But, if you’re ready to throw multiple irons in the fire, be sure that you are prepared for the heat. And, as Jennings says, “Hang on and enjoy the ride.”

If handling multiple businesses isn’t the path you want to take, don’t fret over it. Business ownership is hard work and having just one successful business is an accomplishment in itself.

Angela Stringfellow is a PR and MarComm Consultant and social media strategist offering full-circle marketing solutions to businesses. Angela blogs via Contently.com.