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 Grow Your Small Business

30 06 2016

Hiring-for-Small-BusinessI am a small business owner, Conner and Associates, LLC, DBA Franchise Marketing Systems, based in Atlanta, GA.   I fight the same fight you do every day of every week of every month.  Sometimes it seems like all odds are against you being successful and you just can’t do anything right.  Government regulations don’t seem to help the small business owner much, more so they favor the big corporations with money for lobbyists.  Money is tough to come by as lenders look at small businesses as being higher risk in most cases.  All that being said, I wouldn’t change a thing and love every minute of being a small business owner.  My business, Franchise Marketing Systems has been fortunate to experience growth every year we’ve been in business.  We have definitely had our set backs and trip ups along the way, but in the end, it has been exciting and is exciting to see your hard work come to fruition.

So how do you grow your small business and what can you do to experience the thrill of building something for yourself?  First, you need to have a marketing plan.  In most businesses it’s pretty simple math to start the process, figure out how much money it costs you to generate new business, what increases in customers do you see when you spend more money on marketing?  If you are a service business you can probably come up with a number using math such as, “last year I spent $10,000 on marketing and obtained 10 new clients.  Therefore, my cost of new client acquisition is $1000.”  Once you’ve determined this number you can come up with a budget depending on how much you would like to grow your business revenues by.  As might seem obvious, this is a critical peice of your small business growth strategy.

Now that you have a budget, you need to determine where you are getting your return.  Say you spent $10,000, $5,000 on Internet, $3,000 on tradeshows and $2,000 on direct mail, and your clients all came through Internet marketing, your growth strategy should probably focus on web marketing moving forward. By defining your marketing mix, you should be able to generate more business per dollar spent on marketing and see an increase in overall marketing spend efficiency. The marketing mix should always be reviewed on a regular basis to continually analyze where the dollars should be spent and how best to drive customer traffic into your business. If you are wondering, yes, this might require a new job position for someone who could manage the marketing spend and oversee this constantly evolving advertising strategy. One way you can continually track results on this is to assign unique numbers and emails to each campaign in order to find out where the calls/leads are coming from in any given marketing campaign.

When you have the marketing mix somewhat defined, then it’s time to understand how well you are converting these leads and whether your sales people, sales process and overall value proposition are doing the trick. Sales closing rates can vary greatly depending on the industry segment, the price point you sell at and other variables, but you should be able to define what these numbers should look like with a small amount of research. The person who answers the phone, the greeter who meets new customers at the door, the opening introduction given to each customer all will have an impact on how successful the rate of conversion from lead to customer might be. At my company, Franchise Marketing Systems, we have several people who answer the phones, a franchise specialist, a franchise associate, The closer you review these processes and analyze how these portions of your sales process are working, the better you will understand how to effectively grow your small business.

When it “clicks”, you will realize that the ability to grow your business in most cases is directly in your hands and in your control. Only you as the business owner have the ability to make these decisions as to what your budget should be and where you want to allocate your marketing dollars. When you are able to grasp how much in control of this aspect of your business you really are, the opportunities for upward expansion will seem endless and business ownership can be fun again!

Christopher Conner

Franchise Marketing Systems

www.FranchiseMarketingSystems.com