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It is rare that an entrepreneur has just one business idea. If you are like me, you probably have a file on your computer somewhere that has a list of twenty or thirty possible ideas for different businesses that you could pursue. If you had unlimited time and resources, you could pursue them all. You have to be careful about which business ideas you decide to invest your time and energy into because of the limitations on your resources. 

Deciding to work on a business idea just because you have a friend who has an idea and wants to partner with you is not good enough. You should not decide to work on a business idea simply because you imagine it will be easy to execute and will generate a lot of cash. You should only work on the one idea that you are extremely passionate about and believe has the best chance of success. 

Build One Business at a Time 

A common mistake that new entrepreneurs make is that they work on multiple business ideas at once. They look at entrepreneurs like Rob Walling (www.thenumagroup.com), Patrick McKenzie (www.kalzumeus.com), and Pat Flynn (www.patflynn.me), who have a portfolio of different Internet businesses and want to replicate that success. I am a big believer in the portfolio model of entrepreneurship because you have the diversification that most other entrepreneurs lack, but that does not mean that you should start multiple businesses at the same time just so you can have a portfolio of businesses.

Successful portfolio entrepreneurs generally start with one business idea. Then they put all of their energy and effort into developing it. After the business is established and successful, they create systems of people, processes and technology to run the day-to-day operations of the business so that they do not have to give it undivided attention. They only move onto their next big idea after the day-to-day running of their business has been handed off to someone else and that person is successful in continuing the growth the entrepreneur created. If you are just getting started, you do not have a team of people to help you. Do not expect that you as an individual can do the same amount of work as another entrepreneur who has a team behind him or her. 

If you are just getting started in the world of Internet business, start with one idea. If you try to start three or four different ones at once, there is a strong likelihood that you will find yourself with a handful of unfinished businesses that have not gained any traction. Much like driving, you cannot go in four different directions and expect to travel anywhere worth going. 

I recommend that you put all of your energy and effort into the one business idea that you believe will succeed. You can get more done when you are focusing on one project and are not distracted by the needs of other businesses. If your best idea falls through, you can always move onto the other ideas that you have. They will still be there waiting for you. If your best idea does work out, you will have a successful business that generates cash flow and you may or may not want to move onto other ideas at that point. You can either decide to see how large you can scale that business or find team members to take over so you can move onto your other ideas. The cash from your first success can fund your next idea. 

Heck Yes, or, No. 

It is almost more difficult to stay focused after you have had some success with your business. Once you have proven yourself to be a successful entrepreneur, you will be the one approached on a regular basis by people who want to partner with you on a project or start a new business with you. You have not only created a business, you have earned the power of choice over future projects. While you should take each request seriously, you have to be very careful about what you agree to do. As an entrepreneur with a now-profitable business, your time is a valuable commodity. You should only say, “yes” to the select partnership opportunities whose potential for success you are most excited about. You need to say no to everything else. Entrepreneur Derek Sivers wrote a popular blog post about this topic, commenting, “When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah,’ then my answer is no. When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say, ‘Hell Yeah!'”1 Remember that saying no is a perfectly acceptable answer to any request. You will regret saying yes a lot more than saying no. 

Action Steps: 

  • Commit to one business idea at a time, and only work on your best idea.
  • Remember: one successful business will make a great addition to your evolving business portfolio. Four failed business attempts will not.
  • Practice saying no. Only commit to ideas that you think are amazing.