Three months ago I received a call from John Warren, a former Marine Captain, Iraq veteran and an entrepreneur. In the heart of the recession, Warren started a real estate, hard-money lending business. He brought honor and ethics to an industry filled with bad guys doing bad things.
Four years later, he has the fastest growing company in South Carolina. He is lending in 27 states and growing at an astounding 40% quarter on quarter.
Warren wanted to sell his software to other lenders and thus build another side business of substantial value. He created efficient processes and automated them. He came to me for advice. He wanted to know what was involved in starting a software company.
It Only Looks Easy
I told him to stay focused on growing your lending business. You don’t know the software business. You know the lending business. Software looks like easy money. It is not.
All Your Attention
In one of my software startup investments, we started a services business to generate additional revenue. Before we knew it, we were spending an inordinate amount of time strategizing and executing on the services business and far less time on our core software business. We learned revenue isn’t free. Customers for any secondary business have the same expectations as your primary business. They want all your attention.
Find Your “Been There” Guy
Warren learned from my experience that a secondary business is a huge distraction. He learned this lesson from my failure versus his own. Warren is a wisdom seeker. You can learn from others, or you can learn from hard knocks. As Proverbs says, “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still.” It is a wise man who seeks advice from someone who has been there and done that. He continues to be the fastest growing business in South Carolina!
This reminds me of my favorite John Wooden quote, “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”