After selling my first company, it was not long before I was itching to start up again and I noticed a massive difference between first and second time around. Having a new idea is the easy part; as Anita Roddick used to say, the most important skill for an entrepreneur is the ability to evangelise their idea and then to pull together the right team to make it a reality. Many first-time entrepreneurs believe this only applies to their salaried employees, but actually it is much more productive to include business partners, suppliers, investors and other stakeholders in a more holistic vision of the 'team'. External parties can bring to the table ideas, insights, advice and experiences that enhance your collective knowledge.

And after the pain and effort involved in building your first business, you have a ready-made network of resources to leverage second time around. Past suppliers may be willing to advance credit lines (even in these straitened times). Previous business partners will listen to you at an earlier stage. Moreover, former employees who bought into your vision are more likely to do so again. This makes team-building much easier; there is a degree of continuity and bonds of familiarity and trust that make it easier for the team to gel around the new objective and move rapidly from 'storming" to "norming'.

You also know you have the right people in place. First time around, you can assess whether someone has the right interpersonal and job skills, but interviews can't tell you whether they have the personal resilience to succeed in an entrepreneurial environment and manage in a crisis. Next time around, you do have that inside track and so you can structure and manage the team dynamic more effectively. This makes it slightly easier to do one of the things entrepreneurs find most difficult: stepping back as the business grows, to let other people make the necessary decisions and mistakes. As most entrepreneurs know, this reluctance to let go is about money as much as possessiveness; mistakes can be costly and potentially delay the point at which the business starts to generate revenues or profits.

whether you are a first or fifth time entrepreneur, the biggest challenge is to ensure that you have enough funding to get the business off the ground

And whether you are a first or fifth time entrepreneur, the biggest challenge is to ensure that you have enough funding to get the business off the ground. Past success can make it easier to secure funding, but currently many investors are unable to meet prior commitments or are postponing decisions, forcing many new and seasoned entrepreneurs to make tough choices. Even those who have already achieved some financial success will find this environment painful if they need to reinvest all their previously hard-won capital and once again forgo a salary until the business breaks even.

That said, it's easier to be more honest with yourself and get better results second time around. You have a clearer idea of what you are good at, what you can manage, and when you need to delegate to others. You are also more aware of the fact that being an entrepreneur is all about trial and error. Rather than setting out on a rigid path, you tend to identify the potential markers along the road to success, debate how best to reach those points and test your progress - an iterative process that potentially generates a more targeted and valuable offering.

The one thing you know for sure second time around is that in spite of meticulous research, planning and activity, something in your business plan won't quite work the way you expected. It is critical to be a fast learner; recognise and accept errors; and have the time - and money - factored into your business plan so you can keep the business going until you can re-engage with your market. The most successful entrepreneurs have often been carved from the rough-hewn timber of failure, but they have been wise enough to learn well - and fast.

And make no mistake, whether it's your first business or your fifth, the emotional, physical and financial stress of being an entrepreneur never goes away. To make that stress worthwhile, it's necessary to have a clear idea of your destination; grab the opportunities that arise; bring enthusiasm, passion, knowledge and persuasion to everything you do and above all, remain calm and in charge. Successful businesses need wise, steady leaders.

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