Launching another company? Apply the lessons you learned from your first venture.
To all of the world’s entrepreneurs, hustlers and businessmen: Congratulations! You succeeded at something many people only dream to be able to do – launch a company. Now what?
My partner, Yakir Gola, and I understand the excitement and anxiety that go along with building a company. In 2013, the launch of our first business, goPuff, a speedy food delivery service, taught us the dedication, passion, sacrifice and imagination it takes to create something. It also taught us that planting the seed would not be enough; to build something with longevity and impact, you must maintain it, keep it breathing, and grow it. Eventually, we learned everything we knew to launch our next business: goBeer, a 30-minute beer delivery. When we first hatched the idea, we knew we were on to something big, something with hop (pun intended).
Paul Graham, founder of startup accelerator Y Combinator, explains: “A startup is a company designed to grow fast. The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.” Growth within a company can come in many forms: a new idea, branch, service or business altogether. And, what is not growing is dead. It’s pretty simple: grow your business or it will die.
While there are many resources from fellow entrepreneurs on how to raise a startup, a perfect step-by-step blueprint for how to cultivate and propagate one doesn’t exist, as every business is different. However, by approaching goBeer twice as hard and twice as smart, we picked up a lot of useful tips that helped us launch our second business successfully (pro tip: delivering alcohol definitely helps). Here’s how you can do the same.
Do Your Due Diligence
Launching goBeer took a lot of preparation: legally, logistically and operationally. Don’t cut corners. Prepare the right documents, make the right calls and take the right meetings. Don’t rush into anything and approach every decision with greater keenness and craftier execution than you did when launching your first business. Yakir and I spent months making sure that every element of the process was handled properly so that when we launched goBeer in December 2015, it went without a hitch. The smallest details make the biggest difference in the long run.
A Second Business Should Complement the First
When goPuff raised $3.5 million in a Series A, we were growing at a 30 percent month-over-month rate. With that momentum, and because of that momentum, we decided to launch a complementary business. As a retail beer wholesaler in Philadelphia, goBeer is a separate corporation and standing business of its own. However, its delivery element allows goBeer to complement and work with goPuff, allowing for a smoother functionality by which both businesses operate. Unless you’re Jack Dorsey, you don’t want to be running two orphan-structured companies at the same time.
Scale Your Project
In its first two years, goPuff launched five fully operational cities and is now in more than a dozen locations. In order to do this, we had to scale goPuff’s business model to be able to sustain growth within different municipalities. The same had to be done for goBeer, which first launched in Philadelphia. When looking towards your new idea, assess the risk, experiment with different growth tracks, and reach out to individuals and businesses with experience in similar growth sectors to make sure that your business is absolutely ready to leap. Doing our homework with goBeer in Philadelphia made approaching beer delivery in our other cities much easier and efficient.
Never Lose Focus of Your Primary Enterprise
If growth is essential, instability is fatal. While in the process of launching your next big idea, don’t lose sight of your first. We launched goBeer to make goPuff stronger, rather than coming up with a totally different idea. Even if you do venture into something new, remember that business is a constant evolution. Just like the relationship between Tesla and SolarCity, your next big idea is only as strong as the one that inspired it. Leverage the growth potential of your first business by making its legs stronger, not by putting too much weight on them.