Taming the Hydra – Getting a handle on multiple business opportunities

Serial entrepreneurship, which is a fancy way of saying being a person who can’t really stop their brain from identifying new ideas and opportunities, reminds me of childhood stories of heroes fighting the Hydra. The Hydra is a mythical creature with lots of heads… each time you cut one off, two or more grow back.

I can relate to that. Every now and then I take a little pause… I pick through my current colourful mass of ideas and opportunities, work out and pick the ones that are most viable (i.e. best ROI – time, money, and energy) and put the others on the shelf.

Problem is, whenever I go through that cull process it’s never more than a week before the shelved ideas have grown back, and this time with friends.

The really difficult part comes when you identify the whales… The ideas or opps that are REALLY big in terms of potential, but equally MASSIVE in terms of the effort they’ll require to set up. What to do with these practically unachievable but equally irresistible ideas?

  1. There’s always VC. It’s a nice option… You lose control though. Although, sometimes this might not be a bad thing… Venture Capitalists have a vested interest in the success of ventures they invest in… So if there are things that can be learnt, perhaps its a good way to go.

  2. Then there’s credit. Credit gives you cash, and cash can buy the time and skill of people who can share the heavy lifting – but in the middle of it there is the pressure of making the venture cashflow postive and breaking even as quickly as possible to reduce the interest burden, and there’s the fact that you still have to project manage the idea yourself (assuming you can’t hire someone good enough to do it).

  3. So in my mind, the final alternative is partnership. Find someone who gets your vision, who buys into it, and who has the necessary skills, drive, and risk appetite to work for free in the short term for the possibility of a return down the track. Make it worth their while in the short term too, if there are skills missing in them that you have, impart them as best you can. Focus on adding value to their life and their direction as quickly as you can. They won’t be able to work full time for you (unless you get really lucky), so don’t expect that.

For now I’ve decided that the best way to tame the Hydra, or spin the plates, or whatever your metaphor is, is to find the right people, share the load, share the return, and share the credit at the end of the day. The partners I am working with already, and those that I am looking for, will run and jointly own what they are building right now.

Partnership is possibly the scariest of the three options above… But if the alternative is “putting things on the back burner” while you address the urgent or important, what do you really have to lose?