This past week, an entrepreneur shared with me his mobile app and a very clear description of the business proposition that his app would address. When he was done, and after I had absorbed his business opportunity, he paused. Then, he said: “The best part of my story is that this exact functionality can be used as the basis of a second business. All I have to do is change some copy and graphics within the app.” This, he said, was a case of “build once and receive twice.”

If I was half-way excited by the first part of our discussion, my excitement level fell to zero after hearing about the new opportunity. His sentiment about adapting a piece of his app’s functionality to solve numerous business problems is a not a phenomenon unique to this entrepreneur. While in the trenches, every entrepreneur sees new opportunities that they couldn’t have imagined prior to commencing their product’s build.

The new idea is often appropriate as a product extension. Other times, you might come to the conclusion that you’ve stumbled upon two ideas that can serve as separate, compelling businesses. I’ve heard entrepreneurs go so far as to rationalize this process of building two unrelated products by referencing Google. They say, “Google offers search as well as work productivity software. If Google can do it, why can’t I?”

This is my response: 1) Google won search first before building Google Docs or any of their other products; 2) You’re not Google (yet).

Most entrepreneurs find it extremely hard to do one thing well. Only with a herculean amount of effort can you apply the requisite discipline and focus necessary to succeed at one venture. When you’re just starting out, it’s next to impossible to do two things well simultaneously.

Here’s what I told the entrepreneur: if he liked his new app idea better than the first idea, he should abandon the first one. Although he claimed that creating two ventures would double the size of the addressable market opportunity, he would likely fail at executing both of them. By embarking on two separate ventures, he would almost certainly turn off any investors and advisors who might otherwise be willing to help him.

The Takeaway:

Focus on doing one thing well. If you succeed, the next opportunity will present itself in time. When it does, it will be easier for you to accomplish than the first one.

– Andrew