You're reading the blog of

Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Building Empires

Most entrepreneurs seem to be keen to develop & establish their brands as umbrella’s for a whole business empire, in that they grow the company both horizontally & vertically. Whilst this may not be on every startup’s radar, the more established a business becomes, the bigger the need seems to be for diversification & increased sustainability (whilst you wouldn’t be too surprised if you found that every second entrepreneur was a ruthless, greedy business person).

A great example of what I consider to be an “empire” within the online spaces that I move is Envato. Not being content with only having one content-generating website or one marketplace, I think Collis & co should be lauded for really building a massive business with different, yet related, arms & vehicles.

So whilst this is all great, here’s a bit of a proviso of sorts…

Making it seem like you’re building an empire is relatively easy, when you’re creating projects that definitely seem much cooler than they are actually profitable or viable. So the trick is in ensuring that you continue to fuel the mothership (the main / umbrella brand) [with all these cool projects], whilst obviously blowing the “look at us building an empire over here”-horn.

See, when it comes to publicity, the profitability of individual projects / departments aren’t that important, as they were never destined to be considered as an independent vehicle. Instead they should be geared towards fueling that mothership, as that is the cash cow; not necessarily the shiny new idea that you are implementing.

The main brand also has a longevity that far surpasses the lifespan of an individual project. Whilst some of your newly introduced projects may be great enough to be the next cash cow, their first aim should be to contribute to the building of the brand.

That way they’re also indirectly contributing to the profitability of the business as a whole. It may seem irresponsible to allow one side of your business to operate at a loss, but this is where you need some balls and you need to view the situation from a holistic point-of-view. Don’t let isolated situations impair your judgement. Focus on the mothership, as that is where you will find the greatest value, sustainability and hopefully profits in the longer term.

Join 3,000+ rockstars who get my best content directly in their inbox: