There are nearly 28 million small businesses in the United States, and more than a few of them have been staked by serial entrepreneurs such as Crystal Glass Warner, CEO of Lor’ Dour Design LLC, Crystal Glass Cosmetics, and ACE Film Productions.
Once Warner got the entrepreneurial bug, she was on a roll. “The front runner is Lor’ Dour Design LLC, which creates custom women’s apparel, dancewear, and wedding gowns. I started the business July 2015 by winning the top prize for the WCECNJ grant for start-ups. By winning I was able to open my doors at One Gateway Center, Newark, NJ,” explains Warner.
She adds, “Our fashion line will launch May 13 in Toms River, NJ. I have exclusive rights to a cooling and warming fabric that will be incorporated into our unique fabrics by end of the year. Which leads to my second business– the makeup line, “Crystal Glass Cosmetics,” which offers mineral-based products of foundations, lip gloss, etc., which I started back in 2005 using the products on models for NY Fashion Week/Couture Fashion Week…My third venture is (Angelic Christian Entertainment) ACE Film Productions, a minority woman owned business that provides productions of commercial video and feature film productions. We produce high-end HD formatted quality productions. Our portfolio of films include ‘Finding Nora,’ currently in production; ‘Witness’; and ‘Penn Hill Rd.’”
Some entrepreneurs seem to be made; others seem to be born. Warner feels that being an entrepreneur was her professional calling. “I believe that it’s my purpose in life to be multi-talented in the aspect of creative production; the arts. I was born to be an entrepreneur. All of the businesses started at different times and have been operating as separate entities. But now all operate by using the products and functionality of the other. Lor Dour Designs operates in line with Crystal Glass Cosmetics to create a total look for the woman on the go, creating a one stop shop. ACE Films utilizes them all by incorporating the designs in the wardrobe dept and creating makeup and hair looks for the actors with my team of makeup artist and hair stylist along with the product line,” says Warner.
But still, it’s not easy being an entrepreneur, much less a serial entrepreneur. There are many challenges and risks. “Some of the challenges have been having enough inventory for the custom designs. I am still building a team and working on a cut and sew factory in New Jersey. Deals are on the table for this to happen. I started with an intern in October 2015 which now is a permanent part-time position. With any small business the challenge, for me, is to find people with the creative skills and experience to take on smaller projects; hiring them as needed as independent contractors as I grow will increase my staff and turn temporary positions into full time positions,” explains Warner.
Another challenge is finding time to manage all these businesses. Serial entrepreneurs have to create a plan to stay on top of everything. “Focus, Focus, Focus–followed by prioritization. I am on my third business in the same industry–each business focuses on a different aspect of the industry,” offers Kimberly Smith, the CEO of AvenueWest, a corporate housing firm. Adds multiple business owner Julie Austin, author of “The Money Garden: How to Plant the Seeds for a Lifetime of Income,” “My best advice about juggling multiple businesses is to focus long enough on one and get it up and running before moving to the next. Each business usually doesn’t progress at the same pace, but if you find you’re making money at each one and not having enough time to run it, that’s the point where you start hiring help. It’s a good problem to have.”
Being a serial entrepreneur is not for everyone. “The more businesses you start, the more communication channels you’ll have to juggle, and, if you’re like me, the more your inner control freak will be stressed out. If you’re a risk taker, you might thrive on this constant action. However, it could happen that the thing that drives you to be such a big success will drive you right over a cliff. Remember: The reason you’re an entrepreneur in the first place is to achieve the kind of lifestyle you want. If your need to see every idea you have turned into a business knocks you off the rails, then your serial entrepreneur initiative can be just as damaging as having your ideas fail,” Mike Kappel, CEO of Patriot Software and founder of five businesses that he has grown into a $30 million organization, points out.
On the up side, having multiple business can create a broad network. “The most amazing part of having more than one business is that all of my businesses bring in networking opportunities and events that take me to political events, to corporate functions, sponsorships and non-profit organizations,” notes Warner.
It also creates multiple income streams and indirect business perks. “The upside of running multiple businesses is that at least one or two of them will always make money, even if the income on some starts to slide…I bootstrap every business I start, so I don’t lose my shirt if it turns out not to be the best idea I have. I try doing a basic focus group and ask people what they think beforehand, but with a brand new, innovative idea, it’s hard to know,” notes Austin.
However, not every idea should be turned into a business. So, how can you tell if an idea is viable? “Start by making a safe ‘parking space.’ A way to cultivate new ideas without have to act on all of them. This could be as simple as a notebook. Successful entrepreneurs are passionate and each of their ideas is important to them. Having a mentor or coach to help discuss new ideas and prioritize is essential. Not only does the idea have to be viable but it’s integration into your business world and time allotment must be viable,” suggests Smith.
Bottom line, it can be a fulfilling move. Says Kappel, “Entrepreneurship is one of the most empowering things a person can do. Being a serial entrepreneur and watching your empire expand is really something. I started in the basement of a cold, flooding factory. Now, I’m the head of five businesses….Remembering how hard it was when I started makes me appreciate how far I’ve come today.”
This is one major perk for Warner, who says, “Now, I don’t have to work for someone else.”