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How did Elon Musk become one of the richest entrepreneurs in the world? He didn’t start just one company, he was involved in several groundbreaking enterprises including PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla. The same goes for Richard Branson, who has launched over 400 companies, and Oprah, who has founded or acquired substantial stakes in several businesses including Weight Watchers, True Food Kitchen and Oatly.
While some entrepreneurs are content to start a single business, scale it, sell it and retire to a life of leisure, other entrepreneurs are driven to do more. Perhaps they want to change the world for the better, or maybe they simply thrive by staying active and growing businesses.
If you think you may want to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time and create multiple streams of income, here are three ways to make it happen:
1. Build multiple businesses, one at a time
The idea of starting multiple businesses might sound appealing to a visionary entrepreneur. However, when reality strikes, business owners often discover that operating a single business can be challenging enough. Fortunately, there are ways to build multiple companies and keep your head above water.
First, if you’re going to run multiple businesses, you can’t do it all by yourself. You need partners.
Second, don’t start multiple businesses at the same time. Start one, focus on it intensely until it becomes profitable, turn it into a self-managing entity, and then you can leverage your profits to launch the next business.
Third, find ways to align your businesses and create synergies so that each business can grow faster and better.
2. Acquire existing businesses
Warren Buffett made his money buying businesses, not starting them. Could the same tactic work for you? Bear in mind the success of any acquisition hinges on who (and what) comes with the business.
The “who” is straightforward — it’s the people who are currently employed by the business. These people may love the company or hate it. Neither of those is necessarily good or bad. If they love the company, they might stay, but it may also mean they don’t want you to change anything, even if it’s an improvement. If they hate the company, they may leave, but they may also have lots of ideas about how to improve things.
The “what” can be more complicated. Businesses can come with tax obligations, legal entanglements and more. This is why many acquisitions don’t involve buying the entire business but an asset buyout, in which you only buy the parts of the business you want. Regardless, make sure you do your due diligence so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
3. Outsource building businesses
Many business founders outsource parts of their business, like marketing, but what if you could outsource the entire business? “Today, there is so much complexity and competition when it comes to launching a business,” says Milos Safranek, founder of Automated Wealth Management Holdings. “You’ve got product sourcing, logistics and supply chain management, not to mention these things are always changing. For many entrepreneurs and investors, it makes more sense to outsource the operation entirely.”
One of the easiest types of businesses to outsource is an ecommerce store because so much of the process can be automated. Business automation is key to unlocking an entrepreneur’s full potential. It’s how you make money while you sleep, but most entrepreneurs don’t know what automation systems and tools are available — which is why, for many, it makes sense for them to focus on vision, brand and marketing while outsourcing everything else.
Many articles and entrepreneurial “experts” on social media will tell you how to create multiple streams of income “overnight” or as a “side hustle.” The ideas I shared above are not get-rich-quick schemes, and they’re not side hustles. These are time-intensive strategies that require large amounts of money and effort, but if they take a large effort, the payoff can also be big.