When it comes to intelligence, capability, and a track record of success, no one can beat a High-Flier. Whether you’ve spent your career in one industry or many, you’ve been hired or promoted consistently, and you’re seen as a superstar with the Midas touch. You have a range of competencies and a broad skill set that have served you well throughout your professional life. Like the Generalist, you can do many things, and you’re exceptional at all of them.
The problem with being so good at so much, though, is that you have difficulty focusing your attention and energies when it comes time to start your own business. It’s hard for you to choose your single, most marketable skill or your single most viable product and zero in on that, and that exclusively. Instead, you may find yourself starting two separate businesses, or three or four, all with individual demands for branding, websites, customer base, messaging, and sales. Running just one business is hard enough on its own, but trying to maintain more than one, and make them successful, is a tall order for anyone.
But because you’ve always been a successful multi-tasker, you tell yourself that with enough hard work, you can handle multiple businesses. What you may not fully grasp until you’re in the thick of it is that the doubled or quadrupled workload makes it impossible for any of the businesses to gain traction. You never get on top of the work, one task leads to five new ones, across all your businesses, and you just can’t catch up.
High-Fliers tell themselves they’re being smart and hedging their bets. Often, though, the real issue is the understandable fear that comes from going out on your own. You’re used to succeeding at everything, and the possibility that you might fail at your own business leads to the idea that you should open two or more, thinking one of them is bound to be successful. Among your multiple businesses, one of them might be a passion project—it’s what you enjoy most, but don’t feel you can actually make money doing. So you tack it on as a sort of side job, thinking it will bring you a measure of fulfillment, while counting on one or more of your “real” businesses to pay the bills.
Unfortunately, you soon discover that this scattergun approach means that none of your businesses gain any momentum. They may be poorly structured, limited in network, and seemingly fly-by-night, killing your resources without actually getting you anywhere. Your websites and marketing materials are incomplete, and your elevator pitches aren’t cohesive. Prospective clients can tell that your mind is elsewhere, leading them to perceive you as noncommittal. You may be coming across as a jack-of-all-trades but master of none, someone who is testing a host of ideas and hoping for the best. Of course, this does not inspire customer confidence, so your client roster remains largely empty and you continue to spin your wheels.
It’s not that you can’t create a thriving business. You definitely have the skills and smarts—that’s been proven by your successful corporate career. It’s that your energy and focus are divided in too many directions. You’ve got dozens of things to think about and attend to every working hour of every day, different demands for different businesses. You can’t get to your destination because you’re constantly running down side roads. In the meantime, your competitors are headed toward a single finish line.
When you’re dealing with scattered attention and mounting stress, you miss answers and opportunities that are right in front of you. Our brains can process only so much of the information that’s thrown at us every second, and what we see depends largely on what we’re actively looking for. When you’re trying to find the answers to a dozen different questions, it’s no wonder that the real solution often passes by unnoticed. If you started several businesses to hedge your bets in an attempt to avoid failure, you have inadvertently guaranteed it. You’ve got to fine-tune your focus to concentrate on just one idea. You can certainly own several businesses eventually, but wait until the first is profitable before starting up the next.
Being exceptionally talented in such a broad range of skills, with a solid track record of success, leaves you with your choice of entrepreneurial options. You could turn your Midas touch to one of a dozen interests and build it into a prosperous business. However, be aware of your inclination to pursue more than one at a time, thinking you’re playing it safe with multiple options. A scattergun approach results in divided energy and a lack of the laser focus that a business requires.