Taking the Jump into Entrepreneurship

18 06 2018

826-02353716Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with a former Army Ranger who had served time in Afghanistan and certainly had put in his time serving our country.  He had been planning his new business to provide professional body-guard/security services for the past year and a half.  It was hard not to feel for him, he had clearly done so much for our country and now was sort of wallowing in his own thoughts on what to do next.  In working with franchise investors and potential business owners who are researching and trying to understand whether to get into business, this scenario seems to play out quite often.  The fear, anxiety and thought of getting into business tends to plant people’s feet in concrete and they can’t bring themselves to take the leap.  This is a problem not only for people individually as it is my belief that small business ownership is the best, most effective way for people to take control of their future and truly realize their potential as a working professional.  The second issue for the overall picture is that less and less people are starting businesses as the rate of entrepreneurship across the country has been declining for some time which does not bode well for our overall economic health.

So where are we going wrong and what can we do about it?  Well, if we start with the former Ranger example, a lot of the issue starts with education and support for people considering starting a business.  The SBA offers some great programs through SCORE and there is a lot of great information on the web available to anyone willing to spend the time to read them.  The key to getting people confident enough to start a business is helping people develop a solid plan.  Knowing the risks, planning for how to overcome them and understanding the roadmap to get to profitability helps people make the decision to become a business owner.  Second, one of the bigger issues has been funding, although lending has become easier since the crash, it still can be difficult to get a loan to start a business.  By having a great plan and understanding what money is available up front, a potential entrepreneur can save themselves heart-ache and wasted energy looking into businesses they can’t afford.  From my perspective with Franchise Marketing Systems, franchising can always be a viable option for a new entrepreneur who hasn’t started a business.  The roadmap, business plan and entire system should be provided to the franchisee immediately upon signing the franchise agreement.  The good franchises help take a lot of the legwork and uncertainty out of the new business launch.

The reality is that starting a business should make someone nervous.  The statistics for success vs. failure are not very enduring showing success rates for new businesses as low as 4% after the first five years in business.  From my work in franchising and working in small business, most of these failures come down to lack of funding, poor planning or poor execution.  All of these could be addressed if the potential business owner spent the time and even money planning for how they would execute their small business venture.  Whether it is a franchise or a pure small business, check the funding requirements, understand the consumer market, make sure there is a plan for how the business will get to profitability and that there is enough cash in the bank to get to that breakeven.  The great thing about business is that when you break it all down, it’s pretty simple, you need to bring in more dollars than you spend to make a business work.  Almost 70% of small businesses in the U.S. are operated from home, so the initial investment to start a new business is a lot more attainable for most and the lifestyle aspect of business ownership is extremely compelling.  I for one can attest to the excitement and value of starting a new business, I started Franchise Marketing Systems in 2009 and looking back, it was one of the best decisions personally I’ve ever made.  There is a business for everyone, you just need to find the right fit and then build a great plan you can execute.

Chris Conner

President

Franchise Marketing Systems

www.FMSFranchise.com 

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How to Franchise: Good to Great

15 12 2016

how to franchise your business with Chris ConnerWhat makes the difference between a good business and a great business?  There are so many good businesses out there, why do most of them level off at “good” and never transition to “great”.  In our experience working with businesses and helping determine whether a brand should expand through franchising, this discussion and the dynamics of this scenario are reviewed many times over.  Really, any business that is even considering franchising tends to be a “good” business.  They have proven their model has some merit, their value proposition has some unique differentiation from the rest of the market and the leadership behind the brand has vision for growth and scale.  Most of these businesses don’t have what it takes to franchise, but certainly would be considered good businesses by most.  These factors are some of the key indicators from our perspective which delineate good from great:

  1. Great businesses have great systems.  Generally good “systems” means overall processes, technology and duplicatable processes.  A business with good systems operates using numbers and ratios and although the brand may instill emotion, the business operates with very little feeling or thought, it just functions.  Evidence of great systems can be found in a business by how technology is used to manage the day to day business.  Is there an online ordering system?  How does the customer interact with the brand via digital mediums?  What sorts of accounting and bookkeeping systems are in place and how accurate are the financial records?  What about transaction and customer management technology, is there a system in place that the leadership stands behind and the employees embrace?  I once met a successful investor who told me he made a mistake investing in a business one time because he found that they had great technology and state of the art systems, his mistake was not realizing that no one was using the technology.  Great businesses leverage systems and use technology to make their processes consistent, customer experiences great and be able to duplicate the business model in it’s entirety.
  2. Great Businesses Have a Brand.  “Brand” is so overused that it gets tiring to talk about and hear the word so often, but it does mean something and it does carry weight when considering what makes a business Great.  Good businesses have a logo, a website, a brochure and a tagline.  Great businesses have an energy that instills emotion and creates a feeling.  It is a complete strategy that combines all marketing tools and strategies which unite to send a message to the customer without speaking.  A great brand is often confused with something that more people know of or have heard about.  In reality, a great brand could be known in a very small market and a no-so-great brand could have more exposure.  To build a great brand, there needs to be time, energy and focus put into what the company stands for and understanding what is the true mission of the business.  Once the brand is developed, then there needs to be execution to bring the brand to reality and build the tools that appropriately convey this brand to the consumer.  What’s the power of a strong Brand?  Look at Shinola – a brand developed by extremely brand-conscious and intelligent businessman Tom Kartsotis, who also is the founder of the Fossil brand.  Fossil makes a watch that sells for $100 – $150, Shinola makes a watch that sells for $750-$1,000, both are technically manufactured in the same factories using many of the same parts.  Shinola has created a brand that instills a feeling and passion in people which in turn gets people to pay 8-10 times more for the same product.
  3. Great Businesses have Great People.  Having great people in an organization is positive for the obvious reasons such as more able-bodied leaders and hands on deck pushing the business forward.  But what having great people also indicates is that the business and leadership are developing people and supporting the empowerment of the staff.  There is a great book by John C. Maxwell called “How Successful People Lead” that references solid leaders as people who develop others and support their success as one of the stages of leadership development.  This is not only a skill, but also a willingness to share intellectual property and help others which is ultimately one of the most important characteristics in determining whether a business is Great.  Certainly, this plays an enormous role when considering whether to franchise a business as franchisees are the epitome of people looking for support in being developed.

Christopher Conner
Chris.Conner@FMSFranchise.com
Franchise Marketing Systems
www.FranchiseMarketingSystems.com





Chris Conner: Franchise Development

26 01 2016

The art of franchise development is one that takes time and effort to define.  Good franchises are composed of strong systems, dedicated marketing models, great training platforms and good brands.  Most importantly they always include solid leadership who understand the value of scaling a business.

Christopher Conner has spent almost over 12 years in the franchise consulting field working with small businesses to expand and grow their concepts through franchising and has truly seen the good, bad and ugly in the franchise process.  What is it about franchising that brings out the worst in some business owners?  We read about the lawsuits, angry franchise owners, online rants about some conflict between franchisors and franchisees along with a myriad of other issues that seem to stem from the franchise expansion process.  The fact is that some business owners just aren’t made for franchising.

http://www.franchisemarketingsystems.com/our-team/christopher-james-conner-president-franchise-development/

In Mr. Conner’s experience and time with several hundred different business owners transitioning into the franchise model, there have been some evident truths to the process which have become apparent.

  1. Franchisors need to be patient….and some business owners just don’t have the time or ability to wait.
  2. Business owners who wish to franchise a business need to be long-term, value-oriented professionals.  The franchise business is all about seeing where the voyage is headed, not focused on the mile markers along the way.
  3. Franchising requires strong relationship skills, a good franchisor knows how to get people to like them and then keep that relationship past the sale.
  4. Great franchisors are always looking for ways to add value to the franchise relationship and will continue to invest in the long term vision for the overall business.
  5. Business owners who “Get It” understand that the profitability you make from one or two businesses doesn’t add up to much when compared with the potential for true scale through franchising.