Questions

I am starting two new companies, but one requires 80% of my time, how do I hold onto the other one and scale it up?

The company is an online review platform that is very scaleable but I dont have the time to scale it up myself and don't have the personal financial resources to hire people. I have built the platform and provided the service to several trial customers and we are getting great results. Who can I bring to help get customers and scale it up if I am willing to give up majority ownership in the company?

3answers

To play devil's advocate here, does the second company need to survive? Meaning mainly: is there a large enough potential for long-term gain to keep pushing on it?

As entrepreneurs, it can be tempting to put a lot of irons in the fire in hopes one of them really takes off. It's understandable — after all, with two lottery tickets, you're twice as likely to win the lottery, right?

The catch there is that starting a business isn't like buying a lottery ticket. It's like having a child.

Sure, with 20 children there's theoretically 20X the possibility that one of your offspring will become President, but that also means you need to provide 20X the love, care, resources, and effort.

So while the temptation is to start lots of businesses, the real job of an entrepreneur is to cut away dead weight and time drains — if you put 100% of your effort into one child instead of 5% effort into 20 children, the one child has a far better chance.

In my professional life I've started about a dozen side projects. Most of them never got far because I priorities my main business and let the side project starve. Others limped along and made a little money, but added lots of time commitment for me, which ultimately strained my main business. One got lucky and I was able to use it as a bargaining chip in a bigger deal.

All that being said, if you can justify keeping the second business alive, put your efforts toward finding someone who can run the company without being managed. Then — and this is the hard part — let go entirely. Stop checking the email account and social feeds. Don't worry about the day-to-day finances. Just check the monthly status report and trust the person you find to do a good job on their own.

That way you can focus on your main business, which — judging by the 80% time commitment, at least — you value most.

I've had to go through this process a few times — moved to a board position in an agency I started with no authority except to break a tie vote; sold two companies entirely; folded another business into a larger deal — and I know it's painful, and it's hard not to believe that you're the only person capable of running your idea. But other people can. Probably better. If you let them.

If you'd like to go through some strategies or discuss how I handed off a few of my companies, I'm happy to help. Just drop me a line and we'll set something up.


Answered 4 years ago

My suggestion for you: focus.

If you dont have the resources or money to hire someone, why are you starting a second company? The second one will suffer the same fate as the first. I would suggest focus all efforts on the finished platform since thats the easiest to bring customers onto. If the finished platform is "boring", then just shut it down and focus on the new platform.


Answered 4 years ago

Reading this, I was reminded of the story of how 37signals spun off Highrise (that was before they renames themselves Basecamp): https://signalvnoise.com/posts/3770-big-news-for-highrise => what made it easier for them was that they already had an established revenue channel that allowed them to fund the business.

In your case, I see 2 main options that you could look at:

1/ Try to find someone who would be willing to invest their own time and money to grow the business. You'll need to make it very clear to that person how they will recoup their investment.

2/ Look for a student who would be willing to tackle the challenge as part of an internship. This would still require quite a bit of supervision though.

In any case, I have to say that both options are very risky in terms of your chances of success. My question would be, why are you trying to start both companies at the same time? Wouldn't you be better off keeping this one under the radar for now, and get back to work on it later on?


Answered 4 years ago

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