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10 Comments

Pros and Cons of Running Multiple Businesses

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    Anyone know more about this Sujan Patel guy? He sounds really interesting, but reading his site it's very difficult to piece together his history and what he's actually doing.

    It appears he co-founded Milkshake in 2015 and grew that.

    But it also appears that he's part of Ramp Ventures that buys saas businesses.

    Unclear whether Ramp is backed by investors, or if it's personal money.

    This article really bothers me because it's so opaque. When he says "running multiple businesses" clearly some or most were acquired, not founded.

    It's one thing to own a venture portfolio of 9 businesses, and it's another thing entirely to be running/managing 9 businesses day-to-day, and it's another thing entirely to be the founder of 9 businesses.

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      My partner and I run the day to day of all my companies. 2 I founded the rest acquired. We don’t have CEOs for each biz

      I can tell you that’s not any easier running an acquired property.

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      I’m Sujan. Happy to give you a brief history and answer your questions:

      Been doing digital marketing since early 2000s. Early in my career I did consulting and I’ve tried to build a SaaS company using my consulting revenue for years. Sold my constancy Single Grain in 2014 and took a job at a SaaS company. On the side in 2015 I started Mailshake (bootstrapped) and another company Narrow.io (bootstrapped). Hedged my bets and both kinda worked. Mailshake was originally contentmarketer.io and it took about 2 years to get product market fit/traction.

      Along the way (2016) started buying SaaS companies with my own money..fast forward 5 years we’ve bought 9 companies, sold a few along the way. Some with outside capital, most with our own capital (revenue from other SaaS businesses).

      Turns out of all things I’m doing Mailshake (the company I founded) ended being the largest opportunity (revenue and fastest growing).

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        Hey Sujan, thanks for the reply! Didn't expect to get a response from you, but this was very insightful. Sorry if my comment had a negative tone – your post was fascinating, but I couldn't figure out what was going on "behind the scenes." I'm honestly stunned that you and your partner can find the time to run 9 businesses (maybe you guys don't sleep?). Thanks again for sharing your story, I'm always interested in learning from successful founders like you.

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          No worries dude! I should have written an intro that shares what the heck I'm doing. Explaining what I do is always soo lengthy that I skim over it to avoid boring my readers.

          We have a really good time and a laser focused strategy that allows us to run companies in the fraction of the time it would normally take. Two big things that help us do so:

          1. Delegate myself out of a role. The first 6-12 month of buying a business I'm in the weeds and doing almost every role at the company..over time I hire out specialist (support, sales, marketer, SEO, CFO). Not all roles need to be full time. After about a year, I'm driving the business and setting the strategy but the support person, dev and sales person usually have 90% of the basic business operations covered.

          2. Laser focused strategy. I usually focus on 3-5 years to tackle. The limitation of time and budget forces me to spend time on the biggest areas of growth rather than all areas of growth.

          I use the approach of "measure twice cut once"

          It really helps that I've grown companies and managed much larger organizations/teams before..helps me avoid wasting time on ideas that wont work or even worse..ideas that even if it worked wont move the needle.

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            Thanks for sharing, your approach makes a lot of sense.

            I wish there was a faster way to learn what works and what doesn't. I read a lot and try to learn from others, but find that learning through mistakes still happens a lot, and only in retrospect does it seem "obvious" what doesn't work. I've only been building businesses for 4 years and I laugh at some of the things I tried in that time.

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    So maybe i'm limited. But the ideal situation for me is 2 projects :

    • 1 that takes 80% of my time and which is clearly the main, most important business
    • and the 2nd one which is more of a side project, taking 20% of my time, which allows me to do something different when i'm sometimes fed up with main project.

    If i want to do things right, i can only focus on 2 projects at the same time.

    I don't believe that one can run 6 different projects and do it well.
    It is not possible imho.
    Focus is way to important in success to be spreaded over 6 projects.

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      Sounds like a good mix.

      It’s possible to run 6..I’m doing it. Definitely not the most efficient or effective use of time. The synergy’s and shared learning make it possible. I.e you figure something out at one company you can apply it to every other one.

  3. 1

    hmmm.

    if you can make enough money to cover your costs, save for a rainy day and the future... then, make it one project or 10!

    at this point, though, i really can't imagine doing more than one major business.

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      Money isn't always the only motivation.

      If I wanted to make the most money I'd focus on 1 business. I enjoy switching gears and working on multiple projects at once. It brings me joy and keeps my brain stimulated.

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