“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question that most of us were asked by the time we were four years old, with the expectation that the answer would be a single profession or career.
But times are changing fast and many people are now rejecting the idea that they should choose to define themselves by only one job for life.
Many young professionals and entrepreneurs are embracing the idea of pursuing multiple professional interests in search of better earning power or more personal satisfaction.
For example, becoming an accountant doesn’t mean that you need to give up your dream of running a restaurant on the side, nor does taking on a job as a sales rep stop you from earning some cash pursuing a passion such as freelance writing.
Serial entrepreneurs who move from one business to the next are becoming more common, so are entrepreneurs who run more than one business at once.
Sage research shows that 94% of young entrepreneurs in Nigeria and 82% in South Africa expect to start more than one business in their lifetime. The most common reason for wanting to do so is that they believe they have many great ideas to share with the world.
If you’re an entrepreneur, there are many reasons to start up a second (or third or fourth…) business. For many people – and this is often true for African entrepreneurs – one business isn’t enough to cover their living expenses. They might need to run a taxi service or offer part-time maths tuition to make ends meet.
It could be that your existing business has hit its maximum growth potential, so you could get better returns by investing your cash and time in a new venture. Or you might want to diversify your income streams to reduce your financial risks. Alternatively, you may simply want to pursue a passion project that allows you to spend at least part of your workday doing something you love.
Managing multiple business interests can be tricky and demands great discipline. At the Sage Summit this year, we learnt that there are many well-known people, such as actor Ashton Kutcher, who are involved in multiple businesses. Such business owners, whether big or small, have one common trait – passion.
Here are a few ideas about how you can juggle multiple business interests:
Bed down your first business before starting another
Starting a new business venture has a major strain on your time and your money for at least a few months. If you try to start two businesses at nearly the same time, one or both will suffer from the lack of focus. Be careful not to overcommit yourself when you have limited capital, time and energy to spend. Ideally, your first business should be stable and provide you with a constant income before you try to launch the next one.