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The most successful entrepreneurs today are also the best multi-taskers, right? Although the ability to juggle various tasks and requests coming in from every direction is vital to running a business, there’s also tremendous value in being able to focus.
What about the ambitious chef who opens a new restaurant, yet maintains their original establishment as well? No matter what your field, bright and motivated business owners often have ideas beyond the one they get started with.
In my case, I’ve been a practicing dentist for 20 years. I found my professional calling after my family emigrated to the U.S. from Iran (where I founded my first company, a potato chip manufacturer, at the tender age of 12). With my earnings from dentistry, I began investing in real estate, but it never ignited my passion. Six years ago, the opportunity came along to purchase a fledgling glass and mirror company. I jumped at the opportunity.
Ever since, I’ve maintained two businesses at once, treating my dental patients during the day and conducting my computer work for the glass company in the evenings.
Operating two businesses at once may seem like an impossible challenge, but with careful time and personnel management, there are many ways to juggle two companies without running yourself into the ground.
1.) Manage (but don’t Micromanage)
At my dentistry practice, I manage the office and the overall finances, but I allow my employees to handle the day-to-day operations. Be careful with your hiring process — putting people that you trust in positions of responsibility is integral to success as a business owner.
You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t want to or need to. Do you think that Ted Turner personally handles the day-to-day decisions at CNN? Of course not! If he did, he would never have had time to run TBS, the Atlanta Braves, or MGM Studios.
Keep a watchful eye to ensure that you’re headed in the right direction, but let your employees do the work they’re hired to do.
2.) Don’t Start Unless You Love the Work
When I made the leap into owning a second business, it was because I knew I loved the challenge and wanted to embrace my entrepreneurial spirit. As a dentist, I am primarily a health care provider. I considered opening multiple offices, but the demands of that enterprise would have limited my ability to pursue other interests.
The glass business, on the other hand, feels more like a hobby and a break from my regular job. I do a lot of my work when my wife and children are sleeping. Because I’m not on the computer all day as a dentist, the task of working numbers and accounts online in the evenings never feels like a chore.
With dentistry, it’s more of a physical labor. I have to physically be there and perform procedures. But with any business supplying bulk products, it’s more of a mental challenge, so I can do the work at night and devote the time that the company requires.
To clarify, it’s not even the products themselves that get me most excited, but the challenge of managing accounts and running sales numbers. I recognize that this kind of work is not for everyone. If you’d rather be surfing, then start a surfboard company, but hire people to manage it so that you still get time on the water!
3.) Recognize Your Progress
After two decades, dentistry has become a bit of a routine. Still, I enjoy seeing the product of my work, when someone’s smile comes out nice and beautiful thanks to the attention I gave them. Whatever your trade, look for your handiwork in small tasks and give yourself credit for a job well done.
Perhaps the glass and mirror trade will grow dull after another 15 years, but for now, I love the constant challenges I’m tasked with finding solutions for. New things pop up all the time.
3.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
It’s an old euphemism, but it’s one of the most important. If you already run a successful business, don’t risk all of your assets to begin a second company. You’ll be left with nothing if it goes wrong.
You don’t want to overextend yourself. Work within your means. I love dentistry and will work as a doctor as long as I can, but at this point, I’m glad I don’t have to do just that to make a living. However, if either company failed for some reason, I’d still be able to support my family.
My situation is unique, but the lessons I’ve learned can apply to anyone looking to start their first or second business. What two businesses would you most like to own?
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