This post is about How I have ended up in a situation where I am running a couple of businesses. It is not a step-by-step guide; it is more a post about how I ended up here and how I manage everything. And it is based on my personal experiences. And after going through much trial-and-error, I believe I can share a few bits of knowledge on how to run multiple businesses.
The reason for the above preface, or pre clarification if you will, is because personally, I don’t feel like I run multiple businesses. It was never in my intention to run all these businesses for profit. Rather, my approach was more of looking to solve a problem and selling my ability to solve that.
So, if you think about it, my businesses are “productized” solutions to a problem or group of problems that I had at one point. Eventually, it kind of became a business because people saw me solve the problem and wanted me to solve it for them. I talk about this in the “How I accidentally started a Podcast Management Agency” article.
WHY NOT JUST ONE BUSINESS TO RULE THEM ALL?
If you know me, you know I LOVE learning and experimenting. And it just so happened that because of all these skills that I’ve required through the years that I couldn’t keep them all in one business entity. I wanted to do so many things that it became difficult to sell these things under one package.
Technically I run 4 small businesses:
- FB ads agency
- Podcast management agency
- Virtual Talent Recruitment agency
- My personal consultation business
The first 3 individual businesses above all came about from me wanting to solve a problem:
- Ads agency – because I struggle to talk about myself and what I do, I have an aversion to doing anything organically (which is slowly changing as you’re reading a blog post about this right now). I needed to find a way to get my name out there and this was done through paid traffic which I had to learn on my own. I then helped other friends who needed help in this aspect as well.
- Podcast management agency – if you haven’t read my other blog post on this, I was trying to solve the problem of doing all the work by myself through outsourcing. After what felt like years of trial and error, I happened upon a system and for me to move forward with that, I made an offer to a friend to split the person’s pay and that person (who had his own podcast) said yes. The person we outsourced then helped in starting the business.
- Recruitment agency – I got tagged on a couple of posts on Social Media from people who needed help with their business. This is how I slowly grew my agency and one thing led to another. The agency currently helps freelancers or solopreneurs who want to scale what they’re doing.
Because I eventually wanted my businesses to run without me, I decided to keep them all independent from myself. This is when I learned the beauty of outsourcing.
SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES TO RUN THE BUSINESSES
Now that you know what I do, let’s talk about the systems and processes on how to run multiple businesses.
Since I was managing more than one brand, I realized the importance of having systems and processes in place to keep me sane. Systematizing and process docs allows the team to produce output at a level I would do myself and sometimes what they create is better because it is their focus.
You need to create systems for every part of managing the business. This includes payments, notifications, updates for the clients, and workflow management. Next step is to establish processes so that everything that needs to be done for all the parts of your business is broken down in such a way that it’s easy to read and implement.
The easiest service for me to systematize was the podcast management agency. When it comes to producing a podcast, it is easy to break everything down and know EXACTLY what to do in each step of the process.
We also wanted to identify how we can make this agency so that our clients are as hands off from the podcast as possible. Which is where we came up with the idea of uploading the podcast to the podcast host, uploading on the website, embedding the podcast player on the website, and so on.
Doing it this way, means that the whole process is output driven and distractions are removed, because team members or you will be guided through the entire process and know what to do moving forward. It will also make it easier identify what tools you need for you and assign responsibility to the right member(s) of the team.
THE TOOLS WE USE
To create systems and processes and make sure everything is followed through, you need to use the right tools.
These are all the core tools I’ve been using to manage the businesses:
- Google Docs – to house the documentation of the processes
- Teamwork – project management for task checklists (for example we use task templates for everything that needs to be done for every podcast management client)
- Slack – for communication with the team
- Zapier – to send notifications in Slack whenever something is added to Teamwork
There is a wide array of tools you can choose from out there, but so far these are the ones that have worked for me and my team.
HOW WE SELL AND GET CLIENTS?
In terms of how the services are sold, I’m still working on this as I’m writing this article. The reason for this is because I have an aversion to talking about myself (I know I’ve said this twice now, in case it didn’t sink in for you the first time). I also did write an article about “How to market as an Introvert.
Yes, these businesses can stand on their own, but there are certain elements of each business that can feed into each other.
For example, when it comes to the recruitment and podcast management agency, something I’ve done before is help my clients setup their podcast, put my system in place, and train their team (who I helped recruit). This isn’t something that I’m doing currently but I’ve done it before.
So, on the surface, it looks like I can only sell one thing, however because of the level of systemizing we have done, it creates an opportunity to cross sell the different services. There is the example of the podcast scenario above.
Another example could be Selling advertising services of the ads agency, but as we work together, the client could conclude that they want to start a podcast but not manage it themselves…and create the opportunity for me to provide the podcast creation/management services of my podcast management agency
This goes to show that it is possible to cross-sell and is something I will definitely do in the long run.
WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED TO POSSESS?
In my opinion, the skills you need to manage multiple businesses are the following:
- The skill for the service that you’re selling – You don’t have to be an expert, but at least intermediate level so that you can communicate to properly delegate tasks to the person who will do the work for you. On the flip side, you also need to know how to communicate what needs to be done to your clients as well so that it is easily understandable.
- You need to be a people manager – Because I have a team backing me up for everything, I had to learn how to manage them. This means that you need to learn how to properly work with and communicate to other people. If you don’t do this, you will be stuck having to do all the work yourself.
It takes patience and effort to be able to handle the balancing act of running multiple businesses. One doesn’t become a master overnight and it certainly took me YEARS to come up with all these systems and processes.
And that’s how I am currently managing all my businesses. Again, I never really thought about these entities as businesses but more of a way for me to help more people. If you focus on that, everything becomes easier to manage.