The Dual Entrepreneur: How to Balance Running Two Companies at Once

In general, entrepreneurs are idea people. They don’t necessarily have to be creative in the classical artistic sense, but they have to be flexible, self-motivated, and able to follow through on a good idea.

Many budding entrepreneurs hold themselves back by spreading their work too thin. Do you think Mark Zuckerberg would be orchestrating billion-dollar buy-outs if he’d focused half his energy on Facebook, and the other on opening a pizza chain?

Getting a business off the ground requires your full attention. Once it’s up-and-running, however, it’s possible to expand. Just look at many of the world’s most famous athletes and musicians who balance careers in Hollywood and on the playing field. Mark Cuban is a terrific example, juggling ownership of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, Landmark Theatres, and chairing the HDNet cable TV station.

So how do you get to be the next Mark Cuban? While I’m far from the Forbes 500 list, I can happily say that I’ve successfully managed to maintain two profitable businesses for the last six years.

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Image: @boetter / Flickr

Believe That You Can Do It

I opened my first business when I was 12-years-old in my home country of Iran. Raised by a father with a strong emphasis on self-sufficiency, two partners and I began a small potato chip factory. We hired a few employees and sold chips to supermarkets and local schools.

That same spirit of motivation led me to dentistry school. Nearly two decades ago, with a fresh doctorate in hand, I threw myself whole-heartedly into my practice. Over time, I built wealth that needed to be invested. Wall Street didn’t appeal to me, so I bought real estate. When the housing market dropped, I took the wake up call as a sign to diversify.

Like any entrepreneur, I always have my eyes open for new ideas with revenue-generating potential. At one point, I recognized a need for a glass and mirror provider in our market, found a suitable partner, and went into business again. Although my wife might say I’m addicted to work, my dentistry practice never suffered.

Love What You Do

If owning a dentistry office and running a glass and mirror supply company bored me or stressed me out, I’d quit one or the other. Because I’ve found industries that appeal to me, I rarely feel like I’m actually working.

Let’s put it this way — my son plays video games for an hour a day. He says it’s his ‘down time.’ My wife watches soap operas for an hour each afternoon that’s her down time. And what I do in front of the computer for my businesses is truly a down time for me. It’s not work. If it was, there’s no way I’d be able to do it. At home on the computer, I can casually answer emails and truly relax. I enjoy what I do, so it’s more of a game than anything.

Sure, it’s a cliché, but I fully believe the old quote that says, “Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Don’t Rule Anything Out

Ten years ago, I would never have imagined I’d own a glass and mirror company. When the opportunity arose, however, I didn’t overlook it because of my lack of expertise in the area.

It’s not so much the product that matters when you’re an entrepreneur, but the business itself. As long as you know how to run a business and you understand the numbers and how to market and sell, then the product just has to be something that interests you. It could be glass or wood or anything — if you understand business and recognize a need, you’ll succeed.

For me, personally, dentistry and glass sales go hand-in-hand for my lifestyle. Being a dentist is a physical vocation that fills my days, while glass and mirror sales are a number-crunching, analytical job that I do in the evening. It’s like a hobby.

If you already own a successful business and another opportunity arises, don’t run away from it for fear of being over-burdened. As long as you enjoy both jobs, running two businesses can truly be a pleasure.

What combination of businesses would you most like to own or manage?

About the Author: Bahram Nasehi is a Vice President and partner at Dulles Glass and Mirror. He is instrumental in the developement and manufacturing of commercial and residential glass products including tempered glass, glass table tops and shower doors.