4 Lessons I Learned From Running Two Businesses Full-Time

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Ever wondered why some businesses take off and go full time, while others never move past the ‘side income’ stage? Wish you could get some insight from someone who owns their own businesses and works on them full time? Well this is what I’m hoping to offer you today.

While I can’t claim I’m a multi-millionaire business owner, for the last few years I have been running two of my own businesses full time. What’s more, I manage them alongside a busy family and social life.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work for myself since late 2012, and during that time I’ve picked up many lessons which have allowed me to keep growing. Today I’m going to share four of the most important lessons with you in the hope that it’ll help and inspire you.

With that said, let’s get into it.

Get Help!

This is the single most important thing I could advise any busy entrepreneur.

When I started my book publishing business, I was what many call a “solopreneur”. I would literally do everything myself without any outside help. I created my own websites, marketing, graphic design and more.

I learned a lot during this stage and picking up those skills has helped me over my career. However, there was no way I could have continued growing and carried on doing everything myself! The saying ‘more hands make lighter work’ couldn’t be more true. By getting people to help in your business you can do so much more.

Imagine if I wrote all my own books, proofread them, designed the covers and marketed them. In fact, this is what I used to do. While the books were shorter back then, doing all of this myself now would mean I would likely only get one book out every three or so months.

That said, by working with other black writers, cover designers and more, I am able to release two books per week. Yes, that’s 26 times more romance books than I could release myself! Not only that, but it’s also allowed me to have the time and capacity to start and grow my second business.

While employing others to work for you can seem intimidating and like an unnecessary expense when you can do it all yourself, if it’s your aim to grow fast rather than continuing to play at the smaller levels, you 100% need to get others on board asap.


Prioritize The Tasks Which Will Reap The Most Rewards

If you’ve been studying business for even a few months, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule. This basically says that 20% of the things you can do will give you 80% of your results. While these percentages will vary somewhat from business to business, I’ve definitely found this principle to be true.

When I was running just one business I found I was always busy. It wasn’t an issue though because everything I did moved the business forward in some way.

When I decided to start a second business, I needed to find a lot more time from somewhere. It forced me to take a step back and look at where all my time was going.

I discovered that many of the tasks I was doing were only getting very small results. Things like social shares and making small edits to already published books were taking up a lot of time, but they weren’t doing much in terms of bringing in new customers or keeping existing readers happy.

So I drew up a list of things which I could potentially stop doing. Then I stopped doing them all for a month and re-evaluated after that. And guess what? There was no clearly noticeable difference to my bottom line! The main change was that I now had a lot more time to focus on my new project.

I’ve since cut back more tasks. Some which I’ve permanently stopped doing, while others I’ve had to re-add as they did directly impact important parts of my business. One thing’s for sure though: if any new tasks aren’t noticeably impacting my business, they will either be outsourced or stopped altogether.

Closely Related Businesses Can Share Resources

After launching my publishing business, I got the urge to start something new. Being the entrepreneurial type it was difficult for me to do the same thing day in day out… I needed a new challenge!

For months I thought of all the different things I could do. Ultimately, I settled on the idea to do a lifestyle website catering to black women. There were many reasons for this. But a key one was that it was different enough from my existing business to be an all new challenge, while still being close enough that there would be a lot of crossover within my audiences.

Yes, both businesses cater to black women. 🙂

This was a big deciding factor for me as it would mean I wouldn’t have to start from square one again. I already knew my target audience and had access to a percentage of them through email addresses I had collected over the years.

If I had started the website first and tried to feed that audience into the book publishing business, I think I would’ve had a harder time. Not all black women are into romance books. That said, much of my book audience have been interested in the lifestyle site, as it covers a wide variety of topics black women may find interesting.

This lesson isn’t 100% essential, but if you have multiple businesses and there is some crossover in the audience, this can give you a good head start.

Enjoy It!

Lastly, ENJOY IT!

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work on or start all different businesses. A couple of times I could have easily started very lucrative businesses and had people already in the industry give me a huge head start. That said, I didn’t take these opportunities for one simple reason:

They would have bored the life out of me!

I’m a strong believer that you should enjoy what you do. Yes, making money is important, and sometimes we need to do things we don’t want to in order to make money. But, when it comes to my long-term businesses, there’s no way I could do something I don’t enjoy.

Most of us work around a third of the week. Other than sleep, it’s probably one of the things we do most. Because of that, if I’m going to dedicate 35+ hours per week to any business, it’s going to have to be a business I’m passionate about.

Lessons From A Black Woman Entrepreneur; Conclusion

I’ll be honest with you, I can go on all day about the lessons I’ve learned from running these businesses. That said, these are some of the ones I feel are most important. If you’re currently running your own black business or are planning to do so in future, I hope the lessons I’ve learned can also help you.

Now it’s your turn, which of the above do you think is most important? Are there any other lessons that you’ve personally learned from running your own business? Let me know in the comments. I’ll be sure to read and reply to as many as I can. 🙂


Article by Shauna Williams, founder of Afro Romance Books, romance books and That Sister, a lifestyle website for Black women.

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