The old axiom goes, “never put all your eggs in one basket.” It’s a pretty sage warning for doing business, especially for farmers with shaky hands, and these days it’s not just chicken owners who are listening to it. Entrepreneurs are taking heed as well.
An emerging trend in Silicon Valley, parallel entrepreneurship is when one entrepreneur oversees the start up of multiple companies simultaneously. It’s a prospect many former venture capitalists find quite enticing as it lets them take advantage of their ties to significant existing funds and use them to grow their “projects” more rapidly. While the process of building a company from scratch can still take years, secure financing relieves a hefty portion of the worries most start-ups induce.
Parallel entrepreneurship draws aspiring and experienced industrialists alike, appealing to the most logical and efficient utilization of their skill-set. No longer having to be bogged down in the mundane and ancillary aspects of the start-up process, entrepreneurs can focus their talents on setting several companies’ visions at once and putting his or her efforts into getting them off the ground. Given how long it can take even a well-run company to grow, parallel entrepreneurship drastically reduces the risk of wasting one’s unique talents by focusing on only a single startup. It also offers the key advantage of profits. When starting multiple companies, the earlier success of one can often be immediately used to advance the others.
Unlike traditional entrepreneurs, their parallel counterparts tend to leave their batch of precious companies after they’re successfully up and running. Some parallel entrepreneurs even prefer the title “company builder,” an admittedly more apt description of what they actually do.
But not all business owners are in love with the idea of parallel entrepreneurship. Critics claim it simply dilutes the focus of a business leader during the crucial early years of a startup. The debate between the naysayers and parallel entrepreneurship’s proponents brings to mind corporate America disputes between those who favored the conglomerate business model and those who advocated a more singular focus for businesses.But there’s not necessarily any way to settle this debate. Ultimately, it comes down to the style and capabilities of the individual entrepreneur, his or her goals for the company, available financing, competition and of course the industry the proposed company will be in.