Second time lucky: The art of launching your second business

Just because an entrepreneur has done it before, doesn’t mean he can skimp on the business plan. Sir Clive Sinclair helped kick-start the UK computer industry and the careers of thousands of programmers with his ZX Spectrum, but when he decided to put a washing machine engine in a three-wheeled go-kart, maybe somebody should have had a word.

No product will thrive solely on the reputation of its charismatic founder. It has to have a reason to exist, and that reason must be easy to sum up and sell to the public. 

Sinclair’s efforts with the C5 show how off-beam even the most brilliant minds can be. Focusing on the product first ahead of the customer and the risk of commercial failure is obvious. 

By comparison, look at Apple’s iPod. It wasn’t the first MP3 player, but it worked because it sold a simple proposition that appealed to consumers – 1,000 songs in your pocket.

Adapting to the market

When it comes to relaunching in a sector where you have previously been successful, you can’t simply repeat the same formula. It will be interesting to see how the Top Gear-in-exile team does when it relaunches its new show on the Amazon platform. Will the talent prove to be the key to the show’s success, or is it the format itself that is the winner?Clarkson et al are essentially launching against themselves, so they’d better be prepared to tweak the format.

Successful relaunches acknowledge that the world changes and you need to adapt to new market conditions. 

In the Eighties with Next, George Davies made high street fashion vibrant and accessible. In the Nineties he was at the vanguard of bringing clothing into supermarkets. And in the Noughties, his Per Una range in M&S helped revitalise a retailer that was starting to appear a bit dowdy. Each time he moved the game on.

When Jo Malone, founder of the eponymous candles and fragrance business, relaunched her new business Jo Loves, she did so with a twist in making it a more experiential and personal business. Customers can create their own fragrance candles, enjoy a fragrance tapas, and have fragrance consultations to divine their preferences.

Launching a new business or brand is an incredibly intoxicating thing, and entrepreneurs can become slightly addicted to the process. 

However in preparing for a new launch, they must remain aware that success will not necessarily come any easier second time round. The things that made their first projects fly – spotting a gap in the market, attention to detail, drive and commitment – are all just as important for new launches, if not more so.

Gareth Evans is business development director at Five by Five.

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