British High Commissioner Tim Stew
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The multitasking entrepreneur
Q: Is it sensible or practical to work on several different ideas at once, or is it better to perfect one at a time?
- Qurat, Islamabad, Pakistan
You’ve asked an interesting question, Qurat, since there are pluses and minuses to each approach. When you launch your first enterprise, you have to learn so much on the job, and so quickly, that concentrating on one project with a clearly defined purpose is almost invariably the best approach. But once you and your team have been through the process, you can apply what you’ve learned to other launches, and perhaps at some point tackle some projects simultaneously.
To choose well, you need to learn when to go forward and when to say no, which can be difficult - especially if you prefer to say yes, like I do! During the Virgin Group’s early days, one such mistake nearly derailed our company.
From time to time I still receive tweets from people surprised to have discovered that we used to make films. Our venture was called Virgin Films (of course!), and in 1984 we set about turning George Orwell’s classic novel “1984” into a film starring John Hurt and Richard Burton. It was the same year that we launched Virgin Atlantic and, in hindsight, our team took on too much.