Choosing a New Business Idea When an Old One is Still Kind of Working

Last week, I spoke to a client who has multiple businesses (don’t we all? I joke the question I’m going to start asking people on my 1:1 coaching intake form is “which business have you not told me about yet?” ????). 

She knows it’s time to let go of one of them, but she’s struggling to do it.  

It was the first business she started, and it’s successful. 

It’s an e-commerce business that brings in steady cash – not a ton, but very consistent income. It’s not quite big enough to sell, and the way it’s set up, outsourcing isn’t practical. 

More recently, my client started a new business, one that’s still in the beginning-but-growing stages, and it’s something she’s really excited about. With her focus on that new venture, every time she has to manage an item from the old business, all the energy just gets sucked right out of her. She dreads all the tasks involved and resents the time it takes away from growing her new business. 

So it just keeps going. Taking up space. Giving “ok” results. A steady, reliable stream of income that she can’t quite break up with. 

But it’s also costing something.

My client has limited time, energy, and (let’s be honest) child care. 

All the time she spends on this older business is time and energy she can’t lean into her new project.  And it’s slowing the new project down. She’s frustrated with that. 

During our last session, I gave her this analogy. Imagine that you’ve been dating someone for a couple of years. The relationship is fine. They are steady. You know what to expect. You already put a couple years into the drain?!?

But then, Prince Charming enters the scene. It’s so fun. You’re totally engrossed. You want to spend all your time with them. The relationship moves more quickly than your last one did (but in a non-weird way), because it feels right. You LEARNED from your last relationship, so you feel confident that this is going well, even if it’s early on.  

You’d love to see this new guy every night of the week, but your old fellow’s still taking up a few of those nights. He’s nice enough, but you kinda dread it because it’s not where you want to be. You know it’s actually over. You’re putting no effort into this old relationship, and in reality, it’s dragging down your energy just knowing it’s there. 

And your new relationship? You’re not actually putting in your best with Prince Charming because your attention is divided. 

Should you break up? You want to, but the new guy hasn’t proposed yet! It’s not a sure thing! And What if he doesn’t propose? What if this doesn’t work out, and then you’ve left good ol’ Steady Fred???

Ok. Stop here.

If this was your friend, what would you tell her to do? 


I mean, right?!?

We all know, it’s pretty hard to nurture a successful relationship if you don’t fully show up. You have to let go of old relationships to make room for the new and be able to commit to it.     

Imagine meeting up with that friend months later for lunch, and your first question is, “So, how’s it going with Prince Charming?”

And she says, “Oh, well, it didn’t work out. I was just too scared to break up with old, reliable Fred.” 

Is it possible to face palm on someone else’s behalf??!?

I have a challenge for you. If you are holding on to an old, reliable business that you’re sick of – one that’s sucking your energy, but brings in a little cash: Let. It. Go. 

Make space for the new exciting idea. 

Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about shutting down a six-figure business for one of those wild two-in-the-morning ideas that you’re not even sure about yet. No, that is not what I’m talking about here. 

I’m talking about those things that we started, aren’t doing great but are just fine, and consequently, are still hanging around.

They are dividing our energy, only giving a little return, and in the meantime, they suck the life out of us, an annoying distraction from our exciting new project.

Maybe that exciting something else isn’t totally working yet, but we know it’s promising. We’re excited about it, and we’re applying all the stuff we’ve learned from previous projects to it. All that knowledge and experience helps it move a little faster than previous projects, but it’s still at a place where it’s scary to commit and let something else go.  

If you’re a service provider, this could be a service you offered early on, but now, when clients ask about it, you want to hide under your desk. But since people still pay you for it, you still do it.  

What if you said no?  What would that free up space for?

And more importantly, what would it free up energy and mental bandwidth for? 

Don’t keep yourself stuck in a job or relationship that you’ve outgrown. If you need money, find a source of income that doesn’t suck up your entrepreneurial energy. Then concentrate and commit to the new thing, because that’s how you’ll create the best chance for it to succeed. 

You’re never gonna pick out china patterns with Prince Charming if you’re still stuck on the couch, holding hands with Steady Fred. The time you’ve already invested isn’t a reason to stay together when you know there’s no future.

It was a good growing experience, and it got you to where you are now. But now, it’s time to move on. 

Make space for the thing you’re excited for. It’s the only way it has room to grow.

Don’t stay in an unsatisfying business relationship that takes away from what you really want to be doing. 

If I met you for coffee in a few months and asked, “So how’s that exciting new venture going? I want to hear all about it!”  – do you want to be the person who hangs their head and says, “Well, I haven’t really made time for it…,” or the person who says, “It’s amazing! I’m so glad I made space for it!” 

Don’t be the facepalm. Trust yourself, and take the leap. 

You are competent and courageous. Go for it.

If this is feeling like a struggle to sort out, book a free 30 min call with me to see if I can help.

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