It has become apparent to me, that I’m a parallel entrepreneur.
Instead of starting one business at a time like serial entrepreneurs, I’m starting several businesses at the same time, in parallel. Currently I’m engaged in five different ventures at the same time, and I literally divide my work week by them: one day for each of the projects.
Parallel entrepreneurship is a relatively new concept, but I think it will gradually become more commonplace due to advances in three important areas: Technology, Networking and Globalisation.
Today (in Denmark) it’s relatively easy to start a new legal entity thanks to the digitalisation of the public administration. Applications can be filled out and sent online, and it only takes a couple of days for the registration to complete. This makes it easy for me to keep my different ventures legally separate from each other – an important factor due to the fact that most of my ventures are co-founded.
Similarly, building a company website and identity is a relatively easy task. I’m using WordPress as a backbone and I typically buy a readymade template (e.g. my RETROPEAK site that you’re currently on). You can find really cool templates on Themeforest.net and it doesn’t take long to setup.
For more complex sites, I customise an existing template (like on our MAIK website), and sometimes I even build a website from scratch (i.e. in a text editor) which obviously takes a bit longer (see our new BASTARD website for a nice example – note: won’t be launched until Friday 22nd).
Collaboration work is handled by Dropbox and Google Docs (an amazing tool for co-creation!). I use TeuxDeux (teuxdeux.com) for my daily task management, and Wunderlist (wunderlist.com) for my long term task lists. And various other apps and services help me document and share the progress of the ventures.
Like most other entrepreneurs, networking is an integral part of the way I live my life and the way I do business.
Facebook makes it easier than ever to keep track of upcoming business events like openings/receptions, talks, pecha-kuchas, networking sessions etc. and LinkedIn is a perfect way to organize and keep track of the people I meet (I love the new “note” feature in LinkedIn). I’m also using Facebook to keep up-to-date with startups – since most small startups begin with a Facebook Page rather than a company website – and with the more established brands that use Facebook as a marketing and customer care channel.
This way I’m more or less constantly exposed to a lot of new ideas and businesses, both digitally and IRL. My interface towards the world is gigantic and this empowers me and enables me to spot trends, meet the right people, discuss cutting edge ideas etc. like never before. This gives my own creativity a daily Red Bull injection and it also means, that I’m much more likely to bump into a venture proposal that I can’t refuse. And it’s partly the reason why I’m currently engaged in five different ventures
It’s been a while since “globalisation” was on everybody’s lips. Globalisation, I guess, is just a part of our lives now. But what globalisation means to me, is that the world has become much smaller. It’s no longer unrealistic to imagine my products being sold in Japan even though only a handful of people know our Copenhagen underground brand. And my digital products will instantly become available in most parts of the world on launch day.
Another important thing is the fact that labour is also part of the globalisation. I have yet to try out services like fiverrr.com and crowdspring.com, but it makes me feel safe to know, that if I can’t find anyone in my network willing to help me out on logo design or copywriting, it’s easy (and fairly cheap) to get help. Similar small scale outsourcing concepts are underway, and I’m positive that outsourcing will boost parallel entrepreneurship globally.
More importantly though, the prevalence of information is of key importance. If I want to find a Taiwan manufacturer of raincoats, it’s actually quite easy. I use Alibaba.com to locate a handfull of manufacturers, use my network to ask if anyone has experiences with Taiwanese production that they would want to share (over a lunch), and I use Google to find forum threads that discuss pros and cons. I might even post on Twitter or Facebook.
As my friends and family will easily confirm, I never stop thinking about and engaging in new ventures. I love discussing concepts and ideas with people, and I always seek an opportunity to be part of an exiting business venture. I hope this never changes.