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Stay Focused On Your Core Business to Succeed

by Olufisayo
John Accardi

When you start a successful business, it’s easy to become distracted by other opportunities. You might think that since you succeeded with your current business, it’d be easy and lucrative to start additional businesses in different industries and categories.

This is usually not true. Most of the time it’s important to stay focused and 100% committed to your core business to experience the most growth and continued success. I started cravebox.com 8-years ago and over the years I have tried to launch several unrelated products.

None of them became successful and they all turned out to be a waste of my time and money. I’ve found that the most efficient path is to continue growing and building the business that’s become successful instead of being distracted by other tempting ideas.

Creating just 1 Successful Business is Rare

Only 25% of businesses survive 15 years or longer. So most businesses fail early on. Since growing a successful business over the long term is difficult and rare, it makes sense to think that it will be even more rare to start 2 successful companies and run them at the same time.

It’s common for an entrepreneur to have moderate success after a few years of growing a business but then make the mistake of thinking they can easily start another company that is unrelated to the first business and run both companies.

This isn’t impossible but it’s extremely difficult and most likely, won’t work. After a few years of growing CRAVEBOX, it became quite successful and profitable, so I thought to try starting a bath bombs company. I tried selling these bath bombs online but after a few months, I learned that it wasn’t going to work.

There were many competitors in the bath bombs space that were devoting their life to their businesses. Since my bath bombs company was only a part-time venture that I was doing on the side of CRAVEBOX, I couldn’t compete with the more committed, focused bath bombs companies.

So I ended the bath bombs effort and went back to focusing on CRAVEBOX full-time. Again, growing a successful business is rare, so if you started and run a successful business, your best effort is likely to keep focusing on that business and make sure you keep it growing and successful.

A Business requires your full-time effort

Starting, growing, and running 1 business requires a full-time effort. This is because when you start a new business, you need to compete with incumbents that have been serving the industry for many years. Larger, more well-funded businesses are typically good at what they do and it’s very hard to win market share from them. So when you’re starting something from scratch, likely with minimal funding, you need to work really hard, consistently, for many years.

Business owners typically work longer hours than regular employees. 25% of surveyed business owners reported that they work 60+ hours per week. Not only does starting and growing a business require a heavy load of work and effort but maintaining the businesses success and surviving into the future does as well. So, if you make the mistake of trying to start another business or being distracted by an unrelated idea or product, you run the risk of neglecting your core business and losing its competitive advantage.

I could certainly feel this happening to CRAVEBOX when I started the bath bombs business. Any business environment changes quickly – the economy and market changes, your customers’ tastes change, your competitors improve, problems and emergencies happen, and if you’re not really committed, you will fall behind.

Side projects are often a waste of time and money

When I started a bath bombs business while running my core business, CRAVEBOX, after a few months I learned that the bath bombs idea wasn’t going to work and I ended it. This process cost me about 6 months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars. Luckily, in my example, it was a small venture and I was frugal throughout it. But trying your hand at a side project or business could be much more costly.

It’s not uncommon for someone to spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that ultimately fails. So, if you have a successful business, you should be extremely hesitant in starting something on the side.

Even if you own a very large company and have the resources to hire a whole team of great people to help run your core business or start your second business, it can still prove to be very risky and costly. Steve Jobs said “I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things. You have to pick carefully.”

Exit if you’re ready to move on

Instead of trying to start a second business while running your core business, it is likely a better path to work hard on growing your core business and exiting in the future. There are so many ways to exit and after you’ve sold the business, you can start another business.

This makes sense because you can remain focused on one thing at a time which increases your chances of success and decreases risk. The best way to exit is to do it at a time when your business is growing, stable, and healthy. This can take many years but in the end, it’s worth it as opposed to making a premature exit. You can sell all or part of your equity to private equity or venture capital firm or you can go public through an IPO or SPAC merger.

Either way, you will liquidate your equity, unload a lot of risk and responsibility, and be able to move on with your life to achieve the next thing you’re interested in. This is a common trend amongst successful serial entrepreneurs like for example, Elon Musk who started x.com, sold it to PayPal, and then started Tesla. It’s still not common to grow 2 successful serial businesses but it is more likely than growing 2 at the same time.

John AccardiAbout the Author

John Accardi is the founder and CEO of cravebox.com and starcoursecap.com. CRAVEBOX assembles care packages and gift baskets to be sold online. STARCOURSE CAPITAL is a venture capital firm that invests in young e-commerce companies.

John dropped out of a Ph.D. program at Georgetown University in 2014 to start CRAVEBOX and he says it’s the best decision he ever made. He now runs the businesses out of North Wales, PA, and also lives in Manhattan part-time. When John’s not working, he enjoys sailing, playing guitar, and spending time with family.

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