What is a Serial Entrepreneur?
A serial entrepreneur is an individual who develops multiple new businesses or startups over a period of time.
Normally, entrepreneurs develop a single business and devote themselves to it while playing a significant role in the day-to-day operations.
Serial entrepreneurs, on the other hand, will develop the idea for a business, get the ball rolling, then hand off responsibility to someone else.
With their time now freed up from running the initial business, a serial entrepreneur will get to work on their next project—a new business.
Challenges for Serial Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs who are attempting to bring their passion to life in the form of their own business already face a litany of challenges. From securing funding and keeping the doors open to working with employees and winning customers, the entrepreneur’s day is never done.
Serial entrepreneurs have to face all of the normal challenges that those starting a new business face and more.
The First Hurdle
For new businesses, the first hurdle is often the highest one. Successful serial entrepreneurs are people who have the ability to quickly advance a nascent business through the first stages until it can reach the point where the torch can be passed on.
This is no small feat, and for those with the professional networks, resources, and necessary skill set to expedite the initial steps and bring a business to scale, the rewards can be many.
Nevertheless, the path to serial entrepreneurship is littered with the carcasses of businesses that couldn’t get past the first critical stages and didn’t make the cut.
The Last Hurdle
Knowing when to move on is another key challenge unique to the world of serial entrepreneurship.
All entrepreneurs should have an exit strategy in mind when starting their business.
For those who aspire to start a new business after they have moved on from their current project, the need for a clearly defined exit strategy is even more crucial.
Entrepreneurs in general have a healthy dose of persistence and a can-do attitude, but this can backfire for the serial entrepreneur.
In an inherently risky business field, knowing when to stick it out and when to cut your losses could be the difference between a roaring success and a crushing defeat.
There is, of course, no one-size-fits-all rule for entrepreneurs who are looking to get out of their current business at exactly the right time.
The intuition needed to get out at the top—or to see the writing on the wall in the case of a business that is failing—comes from lived experience.
Why Become a Serial Entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs are creative people who want to follow their passion. For serial entrepreneurs, the creative process of introducing, developing, and scaling a new business is their passion.
As with entrepreneurship in general, there is no predetermined set of character attributes that determines who can and who can’t be a serial entrepreneur.
Anyone can learn the skills necessary to become a serial entrepreneur, but finding success requires significant amounts of hard work and experience.
That being said, creative entrepreneurs who thrive in competitive environments, love to network, have a curious nature, and love to solve problems are prime candidates to become serial entrepreneurs.
These individuals can find fulfillment in solving problems and delivering value to customers while reaping financial rewards when it comes time to sell the business or divest equity.
In their rush to bring products to market, to build effective teams, and to move on to the next project, it can be all too easy to build a flimsy company on a shaky foundation.
The desire to get in, get out, and make a quick buck is often antithetical to the truly creative and passion-driven process of developing a long-lasting and profitable business.
Focusing on the exit strategy also means that a business stands little chance of growing to its full potential and flourishing.
A serial entrepreneur with one eye on his watch and the other on the door could be inclined to pull the plug on what could have become a profitable and durable venture.
Sometimes all a business needs is for the founding team to roll up their sleeves and wade in rather than looking for the money that could be saved by cutting the business loose.