Here's the secret to cracking that difficult second business

Bobby Kalar, founder and CEO of Yü Energy explains

Starting your first business is hard enough. The prospect and fear of abject failure becomes a close companion, you burn through cash quicker than you ever thought possible, and you spend every waking minute wracked with worry.

Then all of a sudden your business starts to succeed. That continual sense of worry never really goes but in some ways becomes a driver, so, you take on staff, expand into new markets and you start to make money. So far, so good.

Then one day you are hit by another idea. You’re an entrepreneur at heart so the logical answer is to start your second business.

Surely, it should be easy now. The first business is a success so you imagine it’s just a case of replicating a winning formula.

It sounds straightforward, but as an entrepreneur who is currently scaling a second business I can tell you that the second is harder than the first.

Artists talk about the difficult second album and there are many entrepreneurs out there who would agree that the same principle applies in business.

So why is it so much harder?

Well for a start you’ve still got the first business to contend with. The question is whether you run both simultaneously or sell the first to fund the second. Are both businesses complimentary? If so you may find synergies in keeping both and forming a holding company. Certain support functions could potentially sit between the two – HR and legal teams spring to mind.

In my case I opted to sell my first business, Redrose Care, in order to fund my second, and current business, Yü Energy. This was because of the huge amount of working capital required to take an energy company through the many regulatory hurdles.

This turned out to be the right decision. It meant I didn’t need investment in the early days of the second business and could instead focus on navigating the high barriers to entry for a challenger energy brand. It also meant I was able to turn my full attention to the new business, without worrying about threatening the performance of the first.

Too many serial entrepreneurs try to balance a large business portfolio. Knowing when to cut the cord is crucial, despite the emotional attachment that you may have built up.

There is also a certain level of expectation with your second business. Not only from your family and friends, but from yourself. You succeeded with your first venture, so naturally you assume you will succeed with the second.

The key is to keep humble. You might have been at the forefront of your first success but remember the support of those who helped your business in the early days.

I could never have envisioned the complexity of the energy supply industry. It was the expertise of some exceptionally talented and experienced individuals that has helped drive Yü Energy to become the fastest growing business energy supplier in the UK.

Though fiendishly difficult I would always advise an entrepreneur to take the plunge with a second business. The skills you learnt as a founder during your first venture are invaluable and you can safely avoid all the many (inevitable) mistakes you made with your first business. Though I loved my care home business, disrupting the energy market and challenging the Big Six with Yü Energy has become my life’s passion.

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