So You Want To Launch A Second Business? Read This First!

The MSP Success Thought Leaders Program invites leaders in the small business IT/MSP industryto share their insights and advice with MSP Success readers.

Knowing how hard it can be to navigate an MSP business, it may be difficult to understand why an owner would choose to launch a second business, or even a third. Why would you decide to make your life more complicated?

MSPs are entrepreneurial, and many continue to look for new opportunities. Sometimes these new ventures complement their MSP; a product they’ve developed to use internally, for instance. Sometimes they’re completely different. I know multiple business owners who have gone into commercial real estate, software development, coaching younger entrepreneurs … just about anything that fires up their entrepreneurial spirit. Personally, I own two other companies besides my MSP.

Why Add More Chaos To An Already Chaotic Life?

I’ve talked with many business owners about their multiple business ventures and why they chose to take the leap. It essentially boils down to two main reasons.  

First, we see an opportunity we “just can’t pass up.” As business owners and entrepreneurs, we are always imagining, and always looking for opportunities to learn something new—or perhaps add a few extra coins to our pockets. Most often, we see a product or service that can’t be delivered with our existing team, but that our MSP customers could utilize.

Second, we love the challenge. Many of us just need something new to whet our appetites.  We want to sell a different product or service, meet new customers and vendors, and go back to those days when everything was new and fresh. We want to relive the excitement, and fear, that come when you launch a second (or third) business.

MSP owners are not usually risk averse. As a matter of fact, risk excites us! We want to know if we can do it again.

Tips For Successfully Making The Leap

Along the way, I have picked up a long list of tips and tricks that have proven to be very useful in my new business ventures. Here’s a few to consider if you want to launch a second business:

Cash Is King

Kind of obvious, but critical. This might not have been essential when you started your MSP, especially if it was just you in the beginning. But now, you must build and preserve cash flow to fund your new venture. Most important, you need to accept that the new business may not work out. Prepare yourself to cut the new venture off if it isn’t producing positive cash flow quickly. Don’t let a new venture take down your already successful MSP!

Surround Yourself With The Right People

Author and speaker John C. Maxwell states that leadership is about sacrificing; you will sacrifice yourself to your team. Listen to them, engage with them, and help them. Another hard lesson in leadership: You must always be looking for the next person to take a critical task away from you, freeing you to focus on C-Level activities and areas of concern in your ventures.

You need competent, reliable associates you can entrust with the completion of critical tasks. Build effective departmental teams that you can trust with day-to-day business management. Rely on them to follow the company’s directions and their own initiatives. Build a group of C-Level peers, or boards, across all the companies; this will improve collaboration among multiple companies and ensure any resource sharing is accomplished effectively. If you know nothing about your new venture’s vertical, hire someone who does and learn from them.

Be Ruthless In The Allocation Of Your Time

There will never be enough time, especially not with multiple businesses to manage.

  • Be The CEO. You don’t have time to be a technician or manage everyday issues. That’s why it’s so important to hire people you can depend on. Make time to listen and be seen. You are the company culture. There’s no better way to foster that culture than face-to-face interactions. And don’t micromanage—this always leads to disaster.
  • Fine-Tune Your Systems.Find a way to keep track of the many issues, tasks, and goals that will swirl around your different businesses. You can’t do it in your head! Segment your tasks by business and prioritize them. Block out time to fine-tune this list weekly and ensure someone—other than yourself—is checking on priorities. Pet project tasks that you are “comfortable” with have no place in this world.
  • Each Business Gets A Day. Block time out on your calendar dedicated to each business. It is imperative to find the right balance. No matter your strategy, always leave a day free to dedicate to the business that needs your leadership the most.
  • No Lone Wolves. Don’t even think about trying to keep track of your time, tasks, meetings, and everything else that needs your attention by yourself. You will need a “right-hand,” period.  Don’t do it for yourself—do it for your team. They need you present, active, and leading, not fiddling with Outlook, your phone, or your notes.

RELATED: Multiply Your Productivity 10x With These Entrepreneurial Strategies

Have A Well-Defined Sales Funnel

You don’t have the time to make the same mistakes you did the first time. Develop a clear marketing plan that will keep your sales funnel primed like a well-oiled pump. You know the drill: Identify your target market, know your “X” reasons, spend on marketing, and get your sales funnel full of repeatable customers. Use the knowledge you have gained over the years. It doesn’t make any difference what industry your new venture is in; the general business, growth, and success principles are the same. Every operational, marketing, sales, and customer retention solution you’ve learned can be modified for any business vertical.

Get A Coach

Just like your employees need your coaching to be successful, you also need someone to coach you and hold you accountable. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 employees or 100—no one is going to tell you when you aren’t doing your job. Find a coach who knows the world of multiple business ownership and its unique pain points and issues. They will recognize the signs of avoiding critical issues in one company by working on less important tasks in another—and let you know if you are trying to do something “easy” to take a little pressure off. Even with the knowledge you have gained over the years, there will always be new challenges. With honest guidance from your coach, you must identify the truly critical issues your companies are facing, address them, and solve them—one at a time. 

The Entrepreneurial “Bug” And The Next Adventure

Owning multiple companies has been challenging, exhilarating, and rewarding. But I am still not satisfied that I have reached my full potential. I am always looking forward to that new adventure.

If you have that entrepreneurial “bug” that keeps you always seeking the next thing, if your brain is consumed with a million ideas about what to do next, then—with the motivation and will to see another idea be brought to life—come join our merry band of misfits.

Will Sperow Is the owner of Blue Bay Technology, an MSP located in the DC Metro area; a life safety company specializing in residential and commercial fire and security solutions; and a commercial electrical contractor specializing in design-build projects. When not working, Will enjoys spending time with his wife and three children and working on his next business idea.



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