How to Start a Second Business (While Still Running Your First)

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I never thought I’d end up here. After launching my content marketing agency in 2006, struggling, and then finally finding my equilibrium with it, I started a second business this year.

Yeah. I’m kinda crazy.

My second business is nothing like the first: I run creative classes in my neighborhood at local venues. So, by day, I’m writing about business and marketing; by night, I’m renting chairs and tables, and teaching people how to create succulent arrangements.

While it’s still early in my journey, I’m realizing that starting a second business alongside a first requires a very specific strategy. If you’re brave enough to go along this path with me with your own endeavors, I hope these lessons learned will help you.

1. Roll slower than you want to

Just recently, a commercial space opened up across the street from my house. At a great price. Though I’d planned on this new business being a mobile business for a year or so, I suddenly plunged into researching business insurance and how many classes I’d have to offer to pay my overhead. I got a little carried away.

But then I woke up one morning and realized that biting this off was certainly more than I could chew just three months in. So I backed away from the opportunity and refocused on growing the business under its existing model.

If you’re like me, you’re a “go-get-’em” kind of entrepreneur, and when an opportunity lands in your lap, you may be inclined to take it. But you have to understand that nothing is the same the second time around. You have your first business to sustain (and sustain you financially). You need to continue to have the time and energy to dedicate to it being successful. And sometimes that means moving more slowly than you’d like.

2. Think carefully before taking on a partner

Last month, I shared how trying to partner with a friend failed abysmally. I’m certainly not suggesting that you can’t or shouldn’t have a business partner, but I do urge you to consider what your business would look like if you have half as much control over how things are run as you would if you ran it solo.

For entrepreneurs who have already been working solo for years, I think it’s harder to suddenly have someone else to have to collaborate with. For me, the shift was too great.

If you already have a business partner and are considering working with the same partner on your new business, there are, of course, pros and cons. A perk is you already know that the two of you work well together. But if your business is in an entirely different industry, you might do better to partner with someone more knowledgeable about that space.

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3. Carve out time to work on your new business

My creative workshop business doesn’t require a lot of time right now, but I do find myself responding to emails on the weekend (something I swore I’d never do). I’m still working toward building a more concrete work schedule, and I think I can work on my content marketing business in the morning and then the other business in the afternoon. I find that if I separate the two, rather than bounce back and forth, I’m better able to focus on the business I’m working on.

For you, that might mean blocking off a few hours every day (even if it’s in the evening or on weekends) to focus on the second business. Just give it the attention it deserves.

4. Enjoy the journey

I’d forgotten the euphoria that comes with the early days of starting a business. Every time I get someone new booked for a class, I smile to myself, realizing it’s one more piece of proof that this idea is working.

If you’ve been an entrepreneur for years, some of that magic may have faded. But when you start something new, I guarantee it’ll be back. Savor it. You (hopefully) started this second business because you were passionate about it, so fully experience that passion every single day.

5. Consider what’s next

I don’t know yet whether my new endeavor could sustain me financially enough for me to stop running my marketing firm (or whether I want that), but I feel future possibilities opening up. I’m flexible about what happens in the future. If I can find a physical space that’s right for me, that could skyrocket my business to unexpected success, and that would be okay with me. Or I could keep running it the way it is now while still focusing on my marketing firm, and that would be all right, too.

You already know that entrepreneurship is full of possibilities and unexpected twists and turns. This new business will provide even more adventure for you and me both. Let’s enjoy it together, shall we?

RELATED: Do What You Love? Entrepreneurs Spill the Truth About Starting and Running Businesses

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