Here’s the thing about being a founder that nobody tells you. A few years into your business, you start getting that itch to start something new. You’ve built the customer product, the committed team, the partnerships, the community, you’re hitting your revenue goals and yet… there’s that urge to get back to building the next new thing. From scratch.
You don’t have to be Elon Musk to see the attraction of launching your second business once you have your first established and running well (ideally). Remember, you’re coming to his new idea with a wealth of experience you didn’t have as a first-time founder, lessons you’ll repeat, others you won’t.
As someone who’s missing the old start-up days and looking for my next ventures, I relate entirely. I’ve also done a lot of soul- searching on the topic. So even if you’ve run your risk analysis, mapped out the finances and got your next idea good to go, here are some points to consider before leaping in:
What’s really motivating you?
I've heard the term "learn, earn, return" a few times. My first business, Virtalent, has been a decade of lessons in everything from how to hire and grow a team, to marketing, finances – the works. And while the success has been great, it’s the learning that will always be my main takeaway.
Which means starting a second business - and achieving a similar level of turnover and growth in a much shorter time frame - feels more likely, simply because I have so much more experience now.
When I look at clients and peers starting their second, or even third businesses, I see that it’s less about financial success and more about growing into that next phase of being an entrepreneur. Essentially, how can I do this better?
I’m at the stage where I know what kind of work I really enjoy - and what I don't. My strengths and my weaknesses. I'd want to spend more time working on bolder, creative ideas, for example while outsourcing weak spots much quicker!
Being clear on your new venture motivation will be a guidepost for you as you embark on this new chapter.
Do you have the right foundations in your current business?
Setting up a second venture has the potential to unsettle your team, customers, and stakeholders. You should make sure to invest heavily in a leadership team, such as hiring a General Manager, if you want to make such a transition.
This hasn’t happened overnight, and I’ve spent time making a concerted effort to delegate key workstreams as I gradually extracted myself from the day-to-day running of the business.
This has also been essential when it comes to freeing up the time, energy, and essential headspace that allowed me to focus on another venture.
What are your expectations with this second business?
There's nothing to say a second venture will be as successful - let alone more successful – than your first one. Get clear on what’s at stake here.
While you have the financial back-up of your original business, more experience and possibly more resources to invest in this second venture, there will also be more pressure, expectations, and visibility this time round – from you, and other people.
Set your KPIs from the outset – and just because this is your second time round, it doesn’t mean you have to be twice as ambitious.
Do you have the right support around you?
Leaving a business – where you’ve had your leadership team around you, possibly investors, a business partner in some cases – can be a period of adjustment.
Look to re-create that support system around you as you transition into this next stage. This could be working with an executive coach for increased accountability and space to reflect or a virtual assistant for consistency.
Have you factored in your wellbeing?
I recently heard that founders are four times as likely to experience mental health challenges than the general population. Having grown a multi-million turnover business, and the pressures and responsibilities that come with that, those figures make sense to me. You have a lot of people relying on you.
As you enter this next phase, have you put the resources in place to support your mental and physical health? Will you still have time to exercise? For your key relationships? I’ve seen so many entrepreneurial colleagues and clients burn-out by over-extending themselves.
For me, launching a second business feels like a great way to go back to my roots as an entrepreneur, focusing on creation and innovation rather than management and growth; there’s a big mental health benefit there.
Be very honest when you ask yourself this question. Your business idea can wait, while your health can’t.
The chances are you’re on this journey because you identify as an entrepreneur, rather than a business owner. There’s a market opportunity you can’t shake off, a passion project you want to bring to life, the desire to grow within a new industry.
Launching your second business truly sets you on this path – whatever your driver is. It’s a strategic move that will be a huge learning curve and possibly, the best personal growth journey you could choose. You ready?