Some people have a very focused behavior – They will concentrate and focus on one business and grow that one business consistently. They are known be disciplined and patient.
But then there are others (like me) who are bored with the consistent and want to keep trying new things. These are commonly known as serial entrepreneurs and they need to manage multiple businesses efficiently to be successful.
It is very common to feel overwhelmed when you are managing multiple businesses. Running a single business involves managing manpower, creativity, implementation of ideas, problem resolution, analysis and tapping the complete business potential.
Running two businesses involves doubling the effort of a single business. And if you had to manage multiple businesses simultaneously, it results in overwhelm and the feeling that you are not reaching your potential. For such people, we have created this list.
Let us go through the 8 ways to manage multiple businesses.
1) Knowledge leads to faster decision making
The very first thing you need to manage multiple businesses is knowledge of each business. If you were running a web designing company and also wanted to act as an Android App developer, but you did not know Android code, you might fail miserably.
Your time taken to learn the new business, will result in the old business suffering. Both the businesses will suffer because you have expanded very fast with lower knowledge about the new vertical. This is applicable to any business, irrespective of online or offline. As Warren Buffett says “Do not test the depth of the water by putting both your feet in it”.
To run things efficiently, you need knowledge so that you can take decisions faster and ensure that the decisions were the right ones. However, if you yourself are learning in one business, then managing the other business can be very difficult.
Solution: Gain knowledge! Read books or find answers, follow competitors closely, gain knowledge from industry peers. The more you observe other businesses, the more knowledge you gain from them. This knowledge will help you by making your productive and helping you with faster decision making. If you are not knowledgeable about something, hiring a consultant helps.
2) Time Management is the holy grail
Many people have the knowledge but cannot manage multiple businesses because of lack of time! Actually, it is not due to lack of time, it is due to lack of management of time. Even the billionaire’s have the same 24 hours in a day as normal people. But there’s a big difference between time management methods.
Managing time for even a single business is difficult because you cannot prioritise what to do first. Managing time for multiple businesses is truly an art form, and you need to be the Leonardo da vinci of this art if you want all your multiple businesses to succeed.
If you were traveling in a train journey which took 8 hours, and you had a work in hand which took 12 hours, THEN it is a lack of time. However, if you asked your manager to attend the business meeting by train and you got your work done in those 12 hours whereas your manager travelled 8 hours instead of you, that’s management of time.
Solution: Use softwares like rescue time to check where your time is going. Plan everything in advance. Outsource and delegate (next point, and a very important one)
3) Outsource or Delegate to reduce work load
You cannot do everything by yourself. And the more businesses you are handling, the more will be the pressure on your brain and your body. After all, quality of life and work is important.
It is better to learn the art of outsourcing and delegating your work, rather then trying to do everything yourself. If you try to manage everything yourself, you become the bottleneck to your business. You are the signal which is stopping the traffic from moving faster. And your signal light is always yellow because you are micromanaging.
Micromanagement has many problems. A major reason you micro manage is trust. You don’t trust your employees to do a perfect job or you have very high expectations from them. And when you are outsourcing, you don’t want to pay money to someone who might give poor solutions to your problems.
Solution: Both the things can be solved by money or by the recruitment process. Recruit your employees smartly so that you can trust them. You might have to pay more money to them but they will get the work done. Similarly, hire premium freelancers from sites like freelancer or fiverr.
On sites like freelancer and fiverr, be ready to shell out some more dollars for people who are rated higher so that you get your work done by real professionals. When you are using professionals, they may surpass your expectations but they will demand a premium because of the quality. Ideally, they deserve that premium!
4) Keep Goals and follow them
Multiple businesses! Multiple goals! That’s the mantra for success.
I don’t mean a general mission or vision for your businesses which is the same for all employees. I mean actual monthly, quarterly and yearly goals for each of your businesses. That will help you complete the tasks which might otherwise be left behind in the daily hustle.
There are times when you get so overwhelmed so that you don’t know what to do next. At such times, having the goals in front of you can help you prioritise. Anothe example is – the motivation to work is low just when you have completed an important task. So if you have goals to complete, your motivation will bounce back up.
Sometimes switching between businesses can cause you to forget the important tasks, which is again, something that goals can cover well. Just complete a task and switch on to the next goal. The more time you spend on reaching your goals and, the better will be your achievement, aggression and implementation.
Just start working towards your monthly goals and keep the pace on. You will soon reach farther then you had planned.
Solution: I keep an Excel file with 3 sheets for each of my businesses. The first column of each sheet contains my monthly, quarterly and yearly goals. And the second column onwards, there are dates of the whole month. I have a master sheet where i weekly input the tasks from each of my businesses in order of priority from Monday to Saturday.
So the whole week, all I am concentrating on is getting those tasks done! Nothing else! There is no lack of planning or confusion and I don’t raise my head from my laptop. I just keep hacking at those tasks I have planned this week for myself.
5) Analyse your businesses separately
This is one aspect of your business which you can outsource to consultants and get it done from them. Analysing your business helps you in determining where you are weak or poor in implementation. Time to time analysis of your financials (from each of your businesses) can itself give you a feedback of what you need to do next (which business needs more attention from you).
An important part of my month start ritual is to analyse the profits from each of the businesses i am running. This helps me realise where i went wrong in the last month and how i can improve in this month. Naturally, the next 30 days are spent improving the things which were wrong.
Another analysis i do regularly as a multiple business owner is Profit vs Time invested analysis. How much time did i invest in each business, and what was the return on investment from each business?
If a business is consuming too much time and the returns are low right now, i might outsource a big part of that business to some one else and then take over once the returns actually start coming. The investment rises, but i can earn more from another business in the same time.
The analysis might throw various data. Example – my logistics is poor, customer service is not happening properly, I need a manpower to handle IT so on and so forth. Each business will have a point which it needs to improve on and a point which will help improve the overall revenue and business.
Without this analysis or insight, my actions are being implemented in the dark. I don’t know the implications of my actions but i am doing it because it is the need of the hour. However, if i have analysed that an action will give me problems in the short term, but will benefit me in the long term, then this analysis will bolster my confidence and i might make the right moves.
6) Training people for better output
To manage multiple businesses, you need the right people in the right place. However, that is a dream which is left accomplished for most entrepreneurs. People are not made fit for the job you have given them, you have to train them and make them the right people for the job.
When you are outsourcing your tasks, you are paying good money for the tasks to be executed well. However, when you are delegating your tasks to your employees, your employee needs to be knowledgeable enough to complete that task.
This knowledge needs to be taught to your employees with regularly conducted training programs. The net result will be, you will have a productive and efficient team you can rely on. This makes you free to expand your various businesses even faster.
Furthermore, employees will always be cheaper the consultants or outsourced freelancers. As a result, concentrating on your employees gives you the competitive advantage and cost advantage above competitors who are not training their employees enough.
Delegation without training will create more problems then solving them. You need to train your guys so that they know the stuff they are doing and their role (& importance) to the organization.
7) Use a diary or a planner without fail
It’s such a simple and mundane suggestion because everyone can do it! But you will be surprised at the number of entrepreneurs i know who don’t have a habit of recording things regularly. If you are one of those who don’t use a diary, promise me you will get a diary or a planner tomorrow and start planning your day to day activities in it.
If you get bored to write, buy a premium pen from Mont blanc or Parker or any others so that you want to write. But this is one of the best tips i can give for managing multiple businesses. Each of these businesses will demand your attention and there will be many short term urgent tasks which you will have to complete.
These urgent tasks will affect your long term goals. But you can avoid this scenario if you put your daily goals in a diary and get the work done by the end of the day. This is the best productivity tip i can give you to manage your multiple businesses.
8) Keep Realistic expectations
I don’t mind you planning to be a millionaire by the next year. I don’t mind you planning a picnic to Hawaii in the near future. However, with these plans in mind, please also plan what you will do if one of the business fails?
As long as you have both the plans in hand, the good ones and the bad ones, I am happy. But if you are only planning for the good and not for the bad, then you are wrong. On the other hand, keeping a negative mindset is also wrong for your business. You might ultimately become a Millionaire with the idea which everyone thinks is stupid. Who knows!
Keeping realistic expectations of yourself and your business lets you enjoy life. It gives you time to relax and prepare for the times which are hard. It also lets you enjoy the good times when they come. But the best thing is, it prepares you for the worst time that you might possibly face. You will be ready for it if your expectations are realistic.
As a great and wise man once said “Shit happens” – all you can do is keep a contingency plan for it.
Hope these tips help you in managing your multiple businesses easily. Have a tip of your own? Please comment below. I am all ears!