Starting a business may be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever tackle in life.
But starting a second business? Well, that’s just downright crazy. And when that new venture is in a completely unrelated industry, this can prompt your customers and employees to wonder whether you really know what you’re doing.
That was the reaction I received when I started my cloud-based art-collection business Collecteurs. The concept arose from a hobby and couldn’t be further removed from that of my first business, an online flooring company.
Sure, I was hesitant to move into an unfamiliar space, but the most viable businesses are the ones that arise from a genuine need. And when you need a certain product or service, chances are that someone else does, too. If that product or service doesn’t yet exist, you have the distinct opportunity to provide it.
So don’t be afraid to take on a new industry. As long as there’s a need, you have found an opening.
But just because there’s a need and you have already started a successful business doesn’t mean you have license to take this endeavor lightly. If you’re considering whether to turn an idea into a second business, do the following:
1. Fully develop the idea.
Before entering my new industry, I let the idea percolate in the back of my mind for a solid year. I wanted to give myself the opportunity to brainstorm, iron out details and decide whether I had the time to run a second business.
You should do the same before you make any moves.
2. Schedule office hours.
Even though I was working full time on my first business, I made a point of setting aside at least two hours a day to focus on my second enterprise.
It doesn’t sound like a lot of time but two hours a day can add up to more than 40 hours a month -- plenty of time to get things done little by little.
3. Never neglect the importance of location.
Picking the right spot to open your business is an important decision. Consider the location of your second venture in relationship to your current company.
Take business owner Hamilton Chan, for example. He opened his second business right across the alley from his original business. This way, he could keep an eye on both ventures and capitalize on cross-promotional opportunities.
If your businesses are too far apart, you may inevitably run into problems.
4. Prepare for the launch.
Launching a business is a one-time event. There are no do-overs. So take care when planning everything around your new business launch, from the website to the brick-and-mortar storefront.
To add some buzz to the affair, look for media outlets and organizations that may be interested in your products or services to shoulder some of the marketing and PR burden.
5. Gauge your passion for the project.
Above all else, make sure you’re passionate about this second venture. It’s much easier to pursue a project that lights a fire inside you than one that’s merely a great idea.
Your entrepreneurial spirit will supply you with more strokes of genius down the line. If you’re not consumed with making your new idea a reality, wait for the next one to come along.
Starting a second business in a completely unrelated industry can add diversification to overall financial fortunes, helping you prevail in the ever-changing economy. If your original business is limping along, that second enterprise may afford you the time to fix what’s broken and uncover new insights into how to expand your customer base.
The new company can also help strengthen your entrepreneurial spirit. You set yourself up to discover new ways to grow and keep your focus fresh. Look at Richard Branson: He’s done it all, from magazines and records to transportation and beverages. So don’t be afraid to become a modern-day Renaissance man (or woman).