Should I buy a Franchise or just start my own business???
For those wanting to be "in control of your own destiny" buying a franchise is an option. The question is....should you buy one???
On our franchise owners page, there was a recent post by another owner that asked a very simple question:
"If you had it to do over again (buying a franchise), would you?"
Like most organizations and entities employees have their grievances about the organizations that they work for, and being a franchise owner is very similar. Owning a franchise is a path to entrepreneurship but in and of its self is not necessarily what is means to be an entrepreneur. When you buy a franchise (and sign the daunting "Franchise Agreement" put in front you and part with that initial investment) primarily what you do is become a business owner, and I believe that there are differences between the two.
Cutting to the chase, my answer was "No", and it's not because of the franchise fee, royalty fees or the business plan that had to be written. It has more to do with the fact that I feel like I've already learned the lessons I needed to learn. It's the ultimate "knowing what i know now that I didn't know before" that would prevent me from being a franchise owner again, but that's not to say that my experiences and the lessons that I have learned owning the franchise were unwanted or cost more than they were worth. That couldn't be further from the truth.
There are many things about being a business owner that I didn't know prior and I needed the support in learning those things, which is what a franchise provides. The franchise comes with a built in business model, that most successful franchises follow. It would only stand to reason that those particular lessons that would have empowered me with the ability to make a different choice by having them now are lessons that should be learned by anybody that is looking to either buy a franchise or starting a business from scratch to begin with.
There are three main things that the franchise has provided for us...lessons that we have taken with us that absolutely can be applied to all businesses and were things that we were very very uncomfortable with, or insecure in our ability to provide on our own without having the support of people more experienced.
1- A Framework
The key component that makes all franchises valuable is a very structured and streamlined framework as to how they are going to do business. Nothing within the franchise, from a structure standpoint, is done casually or by happenstance. The system has been rigorously tested with a number of different owners and refined so that what is left is something that is repeatable, scalable, and effective. Frameworks allow for the interchangeability of tools and yes, depending upon which tool you use, there could be a different effect, sometimes accelerated and sometimes the slowed down, that a particular tool will provide to progress. However, if a system is strongly designed, which most franchise systems are, it is very easy to switch out one tool for another, which really makes your job of testing, analyzing and optimizing your approach to a problem very easy, and that is something that only a system can provide. One of the key lessons learned for me by being a franchise owner is in the importance of developing a system or framework before entering into the business. We often have much to offer and we are enthralled by tools that we believe are the keys to success, but in reality having a clearly defined, and a clearly refined system that will allow you to test, analyze and optimize your approach is what will fuel your success.
2– "The riches are in the Niches".
The second thing that we've learned by being franchise owners, and particularly a service oriented business is that, at first, it always feels as though broadening your customer base and broadening your ideal customer, by casting a wide net, feels like you'll have greater success because bringing in customers (i.e. traffic) is always the concern. People buy things, and therefore we need people...so it would only stand reason that the more people we include in our net the better chances we have of people buying. Being a franchise owner we've learned that it isn't having a vast array of services to provide that leads to success but it is in narrowing down the person that you want to serve and by drilling down and becoming more and more and more specific about who that person is that true success ends up happening. By narrowing down what your ideal customer's pain points are and in identifying with that ideal person is what actually allows your system to function better as well. The riches are in the niches, not in how many services you can provide or in how broad your customer base is.
10 years ago I read a book by Seth Godin titled Linchpin and in that book I read about Seth's concept of "Shipping". Seth believes that ideas should not stay in your head. They definitely shouldn't marinate in your head until they're perfect in order for them to leave. In order for you to affect people, which is your purpose (your purpose is to share with as many people as possible...share your gifts, your ideas, your thoughts, your experiences) there has to be a point when it gets to people, and that point should be sooner rather than later. Seth refers to the term as "Shipping", as in "you shipped your item". Seth Godin is a master marketer, so essentially what he's doing is he is referring to the key concept of marketing. Marketing plans and marketing materials are important, but the real key is to share who you are, what you've learned, and what you know as often as possible, and as authentic as possible. Doing that enables you to extend beyond the so called "built-in customer base". One thing that I can say that I am guilty of is not sharing myself enough, not marketing myself more, but that is the key to the entire endeavor. The whole purpose is to share.
I learned these three specific things by being a franchise owner, and if these are things that you are not entirely comfortable with then I would say that franchise ownership, more than likely, is a great step for you. Business Loans, Franchise Locations, the Parent company...they're all a big piece of the pie...but very quickly become the things you'll be least concerned with.
There's a built in system, ongoing training, folks at the corporate office and tools that work that are brand and niche specific. More often than not there is a built-in community for you to be able to share your ideas and thoughts with, a value that can't be quantified. However, these three concepts once learned also enable you to do things your way. In having those three things as my foundation I have the confidence in answering the question "if I had the chance to do it over again, what I do?".
It is because I am comfortable with these three things now that my answer would be:
But again, that is with the luxury of hindsight and the luxury of having been a franchise owner.
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