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Job Security is a Myth

Since 2009 I to meet more and more people who express frustration about being under employed. A friend’s company just implemented yet another work furlough (i.e. unpaid vacation) and this time it is for two weeks and must be taken this month! He didn’t even get to weave the time off into a Christmas or Thanksgiving break. His bigger challenge is the company he works for hired him a year ago after he had been laid off from a similar company (high tech) and was unemployed for nearly a year. His perception is that he is stuck and basically a victim of this company’s economic journey.
Job security is a myth. Perception is everything! I just chatted with another friend who’s husband is halfway through his MBA and basically hates his job. His belief is that his MBA will broaden his opportunities and he’ll be able to escape his pain. But, he is now starting to wonder if this will prove true given all of the other MBA folks he knows who are underemployed and guess what . . . feel stuck.
It has become more common for people to approach me and ask about business ownership. For many, this concept seemed far fetched and non traditional from their previous mind sets. But let’s face it, for those in their “mid life” — career opportunities seem to be offering more underemployment and less certainty than ever before. Which brings me back to Perception is everything.
When I left my career the economy wasn’t bad. In fact it was still very good. Had I maintained my belief that I could keep my presidents job for as long as I wanted, I might still be there. Or, I might have been laid off or even demoted. But for a variety of reasons, my perception about the security changed so drastically that I came to believe that owning my own business was just as risky as working for someone else. Once I embraced this belief, it was not too difficult to jump ship so I could play in my own sandbox under my own rules.
If you’re stuck or otherwise dissatisfied with what is happening in your career, drop me a reply to this post. I would be happy to ask you three questions that might just cause you to realize in the words of Forest Gump . . . “Stuck is as Stuck does.” Challenge your perceptions and your beliefs may change you for the better. It’s the most powerful choice I ever made.

What if it works? Chose Hope

“I want to do my own thing,” said a client of mine. “I am tired of tired of being overworked, underpaid and not really appreciated,” he said.
“Let’s talk,” I replied. ” I own a business and am pretty well tied into the franchise community so I can at least offer you some perspective on this topic.”
This certainly wasn’t the first time I had had this conversation so when finally he launched into his fears about what if things didn’t work out, I did my best to allay his fears.
The key word for this conversation is FEAR. There are lots of cute definitions for this word, but the reality is that fear is the biggest obstacle to creating success. And I mean any type of success, not just success in business ownership.
Given the over bearing media culture we live in, it is no wonder most people are afraid. One negative experience or observation of someone else’s bad experience can hamstring even optimistic people to take action.
So when it comes to fear and business ownership and the fear of something failing, I often hear these words. “What if it doesn’t work? What if I lose money?”
I reply. But what if does work? What if what you want to happen when you launch a business not only works, but it far exceeds your expectations? What if you only earn the same income you had working for someone else, but you now enjoy the autonomy that comes with being your own boss. What if your creativity and energy allowed you to try those things your old boss wouldn’t let you even consider? What if your business venture grew in value and provided you with an asset to sell when you are ready to retire. What if, what if, what if.
Yep, things can go wrong. Yep, businesses can fail. And yep even smart people lose their asses sometimes. In fact, in a study of multi-millionaires, over 90% of them had lost tons of money before ever making it big time. Most of them were afraid. Most of them however likely maintained a belief that they could figure it all out and make it work.
ALL of them however did the one thing that ALL successful business people know and do, they persisted. They didn’t give up. They maintained their belief that they would succeed in the end.
So as you contemplate ditching the merry go round of employment for the roller coaster of business ownership your thought process MUST begin with . . . What if it works…..What will it look like, feel like and be like to create the successful business I want. If you are not able to begin there, but instead let the fear of failing before you even try permeate your thoughts, my advice is to keep your day job and find something about it that you can love.
Optimistic is essential for business owners. Persistence and belief are cornerstones for success. Hope trumps fear . . . always!

Hottest Franchises!

At every seminar I teach on franchising and whenever a colleague or friend discovers I am in the world of franchising, their first question is always . . .. “So what’s hot?”

The question behind this question is really, what is making money. People launch businesses for multiple reasons, but I can assure you 99% do so because they want to earn money. Sometimes, lots of money.

Hey, I get it. Why leave a perfectly good job that pays you a decent salary to risk it all on doing your own thing if there isn’t a handsome ROI at the end of that rainbow. Or for that matter, why invest in a semi-absentee business if it’s not going to kick you back solid revenue.

Pure entrepreneurs are in it for the money plain and simple. Find them a concept that churns out cash and they’ll find a way to like it. Well at least until they execute their exit strategy. And these my friends are two huge things that distinguish the average professional turned new business owner from the professional entrepreneur.

For those of you who are interested in exploring a start up but aren’t entrepreneurs in the true sense, then I have two very important points that I implore you to embrace.

First, unless you have the latest greatest product or an entirely unique skill found nowhere else, look at the franchise model as way to get your feet (and knees) wet in business ownership.

Second, and this is REALLY important, find a business that you will ENJOY. Too many people call SUBWAY looking to own a franchise because they see customers at the counter and believe this easily equates to success they’d like to experience. Even very experienced business executives fall into this trap only to discover they not only hate the business they bought, but they haven’t a clue how to find the escape hatch.

What is hot is often what gets you excited about being in business. It is not always just what makes money. The best scenario is to find a space (i.e. subscription massage businesses) that is performing well and is the type of business model you enjoy running.

Everyone Wants Subway!

If you ask any franchise broker which franchise they are asked about the most, the odds are the answer will be Subway.
The reasons may be obvious (well known brand, seem to be lots of customers in them), but most people should pause before going down this path to soon.
Many people explore franchises because they want to earn more money, have more control over their lives and not have to be under the thumb of some stressed out boss. Their expectation is that having more control will make work life more pleasant and of course being their own boss will allow them to earn a greater income.
But what many wanna be franchise owners don’t evaluate is how well a concept (like Subway) is aligned with their skill set, life style preferences and even income needs. For example, perhaps you know how to make a great sandwich, but have never managed a teenage workforce (with Subway, a minimum wage likelihood). Or, you may be great at managing operations, but don’t like to get out and about and do external marketing. Often the expectation is that you simply put a Subway sign up, hire staff, organized the sandwich bar and the customers will simply walk in the door! Business ownership should be so easy!! Having known more than one Subway owner, I assure you it is a bit more complicated than this.
When exploring franchise ownership the most important steps you should take are to sit down and write down what you want your life to look like as a business owner. Do you want to go out and get your customers or have them come to you? Do you want to lead a team or work solo? Should you lease a retail location or would you prefer to work from home or a small office? What type of customers do you want? If you open a sports bar, you’ll likely have predominantly males who are consuming alcohol as your clientele. What income must you earn to make it worth the risk? Will your family or friends be involved? Will you commute? Will you spend the majority of your time doing something you enjoy or will you simply be chasing profits doing whatever it takes.
As you scan the franchise universe, be careful about being sold by any franchisor on their concept without giving considerable thought to these and other relevant questions. Find a franchise consultant (their services are typically free as they are paid by franchisors to recruit you), and the lessons they will teach you about finding a great franchise fit, may save you YEARS of business heartache and pain.

Regional Development Franchises Are They For You?

When I left my executive career to become a franchise consultant it was with the expectation that within a year or two I would know enough about the vast array of concepts that my ability to choose the best model for me would easily emerge.
Within three months of starting my practice, I discovered master franchise and regional development franchises. It happened when I was presenting a fast growing contempo spa concept to a client. He and his wife were very ambitious about creating wealth through franchise ownership and were considering doing this using the multiple unit development model. During this conversation we also explored their interest in becoming what is called a Regional Developer for this concept.
There are a few layers of franchising. At the top sits the creator of the concept, the Franchisor (ZOR). When the ZOR expands internationally they sometimes award Master Franchises for an entire country or a region of a country. This allows them to essentially delegate brand growth to a third party. In the U.S. about 5 to 10% of franchisors award Regional Development franchises. RD’s as they are called are a way to quickly capitalize a newer franchise while bringing on diverse business experiences that can help expand the concept more rapidly and/or thoroughly. RD regions typically can be acquired for $60k on up to $400k.
RD’s not only help to resell territories, but they then coach the franchisees (ZEES) using the established business model. Compensation comes in the form of shared franchise fees and shared royalties. It can be a wonderful way to develop residual revenue streams.
Successful RDs usually have a strong sales and marketing background along with solid leadership skills. RD franchisees often come from the executive ranks where they have already demonstrated solid business acumen, an ability to be decisive and understand that leading others to success is one of the best ways to create big success.
If you’re seeking to create wealth through franchise ownership, if you enjoy leadership and get excited about brand building, the RD model might be the perfect fit for you.

The Hottest Franchises!

When I deliver franchise workshops or introduce myself at chamber events as a franchise consultant, it is inevitable that I’ll be the ask the question . . . so what is hot in franchising right now?
When I reply my answer is typically, well it depends what your goals are. People invest in business ownership for a variety of reasons. But few (if any) do so without an interest in earning money. One of the biggest mistakes some franchise buyers make is pursuing something simply because they believe it will generate the most amount of income. I’m certainly not one to argue that business ownership should create a solid profit, however, if you’re going to be an owner operator or closely involved in your business, then you just might want to enjoy being around it 8 to 12 hours per day!
If you’re on the hunt for a hot franchise, your best route for discovery is to work with an experienced franchise consultant who can walk you through a professional needs assessment before simply trying to sell you just any franchise to collect his or her commission. A qualified consultant ideally should have many years of business ownership or company leadership experience. Better yet, they should own or have owned a franchised business so that they completely understand the pros and cons of this model along with understanding the nature of the relationship between franchisor and franchisee. You cannot underestimate this knowledge as many people jump at the hottest (at the time) concept they discover only to find out that the concept is a terrible fit for them and/or the franchisor culture annoys them daily.
To be sure the hottest franchises are those that the majority of their Zees will positively recommend and are willing to talk about their earnings averages so that the buyer has an idea of what is achievable over what period of time.
Surprisingly you’ll find, the answer is not usually Subway, in spite of the fact that most people looking for a franchise inquire about this concept first.

Franchises for Investors and Executives

When watching the stock market go up and then go down with a feeling of having little control, we are often left to wonder about the lack of predictability about this investment tool. Many executives who have been vested in this model have step outside of the box to explore other vehicles that present more opportunities to control the outcome.
Business ownership is one of those methods and to improve the odds, many look to franchised businesses. The reason is simple, franchises have a much higher success ratio than independent start ups. And, with already established brand equity, proven marketing and business operating systems, training and ongoing support the learning curve can be shorter and the path to success quicker.
A wonderful aspect of franchise ownership is that these businesses can be run on a semi-absentee basis. In fact, some concepts (hair salons like Sports Clips) specifically cater to investors vs. owner operators.
Other franchise models such as regional development level franchises, allow for a strong degree of autonomy along with the opportunity to lead and coach single unit owners. These are a great way for someone with the business acumen, financial resources and experience to build a substantial residual revenue stream (they share royalties) while using their skills to build the brand.
To be sure there a many different concepts that appeal to investors and transitioning executives. The trick is to learn the variety of franchise business models and then narrow down to those concepts that appeal to your background or overall comfort level.