On Running Multiple Companies Simultaneously

Often I would like to explain or reason some moves I have made. To myself and moreover to other people. Hence out of impulse, I found myself today at wordpress.com and decided to start right now. So here we go, the first post.

I’m as of writing working as:

  • Co-Founder and CTO of Vainu – my job is to run a team that implements a realtime understanding of every company in the world and serves that information through web and mobile app.
  • Founder and CEO of Sensofusion – my job is to run a team that detects and stops unwanted drones and delivers that as a device across the world.
  • Founder and Chairman of RND Works – my job is to advice and help a company that executes custom technology projects in the fields of mobile, AI, hardware and web.

That sounds a lot and it is. But it is lots of fun and learning too. Often people ask me why are you doing all of these simultaneously? Why don’t you focus to just one of these?

Well, believe me, this is me focusing. But it comes in the form of focusing to technology, execution and learning, these great companies have different perspectives, they are in different stages, they are different. Would I suggest running multiple companies simultaneously to someone? No. Did I dream of running multiple companies? No. But I knew these things both needed and could be done (an there was a market), so here we are.

Why it is great?

Usually you only have one shot. One strategy, one product, and one team. You don’t get to see what would have happened if you have chosen to take another road. In this sense building your vision in multiple companies at the same time can be great. It also makes you to focus solely on the results. Let me explain.

Usually as a human being you want to answer to expectations of other people. You co-workers, customers, and do on. Well when you are doing multiple things simultaneously no-one can be fully pleased. There is always one question in the air: “But if you would focus to this 100% of your time would you perform better?” I list this to the positive side because it keeps your mind clean. If you cannot never please other people 100%, then what is left to the table is that you can do your work as well as possible. In short: the results.

It does not feel great to hear questions like “are you going to put greater percentage of you time to this because it is so important?” Because you, at the same time think you are yielding great results, best ever. Yet, being in a place where you cannot never fulfil expectations to 100% leaves you with lots of freedom to focus to your work and results. It is knowing that you cannot be perfect so you just try to be better all the time.

Forced productivity

One great thing when having multiple businesses is the way it forces you to stick with minimalistic approach. Since you cannot always be there you have to be able to get things done fast with minimal requirements. You can only have have so many weekly meetings. I personally have only one monthly recurring meeting where I have to be. I also do not ask any other people to have weekly and monthly meetings. Lets face it, recurring status update meetings are dull. Most of the communication I do these days is done through Slack, Google Hangouts, Phone and most importantly random face-to-face moments. Simple and productive.

Why I would not recommend it?

Running multiple companies is a lot of work. It is controversial. It eats you alive if you lose you focus for a second. Sure, there is always Elon Musk with number of worlds greatest companies. But would expect that it eats him alive as well.

Time off becomes more difficult

Well this is really practical. If you have three jobs. Only way to have one week off is to negotiate with three responsibilities the same week off. The changes are however that out of these three responsibilities in one, something super-important is happening on that week in particular.

It also might be that these multiple responsibilities are happening in different places. Like in my case: Vainu is as of writing active in Europe, Sensofusion in Europe, USA and Middle East, and RND Works mostly in Europe. From individual point of view it means this: Work day start roughly 8am Helsinki time. It starts again 8am West Coast time. Week starts on Sundays in Middle East and on Monday for Europe and USA. It needs lots of planning and adjustment. Not that you need to work harder but just keeping up with all is more complicated.

Why I choose to run multiple companies?

The thing is: if you love what you do, thinking of not doing it is not an option. My personal goal in this life is to make as many technologies as possible obsolete before I die. Nothing makes me feel better than seeing a better solution pushing a crappy one away. Every time a technology is made obsolete, it is surprising what happens. And what then would next challenge the new status quo. I would like to see in to the future – who wouldn’t? So why not focus on that.

If we do not develop technology we will all die (even sun has it’s lifecycle). So before that happens we need to have technology to get far away from here.

Technology is free from good and evil, it is all about great and crappy. No political leader – no matter how much power they might have – could go to a war with horses and swords, after the invention of a rifle. I believe that warfare too, will eventually become obsolete as will that rifle.

So if the case for you happens to be that you can be – as an individual – and you can make more progress towards your ultimate goal. Run as many companies you need to.

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