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Don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire

Written by Louise Harris on Wednesday, 15 December 2021. Posted in Insight

This is the stark message to wannabe business owners from Louise Harris who learned the hard way many years ago after selecting the wrong franchise.

Don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire

This is the stark message to wannabe business owners from Louise Harris who learned the hard way many years ago after selecting the wrong franchise.  

The pandemic has made many of us hungry for change, with a record number of people starting their own businesses across the UK. However, making that change from employee to business owner requires a giant leap of faith.

If this feeling of uncertainty resonates with you, then franchising could be the ideal solution. It is the perfect compromise. You change your life, yet operate under the support and guidance of the franchisor. By tapping into the experience and assistance provided by a franchisor, it will help you to avoid the costly mistakes that could occur if you were starting up on your own.

Covid-19 has essentially changed how and where we work. For some people, this has been a positive experience while, for others, it has triggered strong negative emotions. There are the fears of returning to commuting, or even being made redundant. There is now a burning desire among the country’s workforce to continue with flexible hours, thus enabling you to spend more quality time with the children. 

Many are questioning the ‘new normal,’ along with the positives and negatives it may bring, while others have simply re-evaluated their priorities altogether. But before taking the plunge, it is vital to think carefully about what you want to change and why you want to run your own business. The key is to discover what type of business will meet your expectations. 

Running your own business is challenging and requires total commitment. You often work long hours, especially during the first 12 months. So what will this mean to you and your family? There are hundreds of established and newly launched franchises covering almost every sector of the economy. There are also many formats to choose from. Franchisors are always keen to expand their networks, and are actively seeking new franchisees. 

Some franchisors may be less scrupulous than others. So don’t get carried along by a dream that doesn’t materialise, and you end up jumping from the frying pan into the fire. You will need to conduct in-depth research, and draw up a carefully considered shortlist. Then you must undertake detailed due diligence on the franchises you have selected. 

Franchisors seek partners with specific character traits and skills, and these are primarily business related. Experience of the chosen franchise sector is generally not considered to be as important as having good business acumen. A newly appointed franchisee will need to successfully complete induction and training before being allowed to operate.

When I decided to become a franchisee, I made the mistake of falling in love with the brand. I ignored the fact that it was the wrong fit and that I would have to carry out activities that I really didn’t enjoy. In fact I hated it. Even as I signed the franchise agreement, I knew deep down that I had made the wrong choice. True, I wanted to run my own business and I liked the team, but I had sold myself the dream. And herein is the danger.

Honest analysis will help drive the right choices. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have asked myself the following questions. What do I really want? What am I good or bad at? What will get me up and enthusiastic every day? And what will carry me through the difficult days? By understanding your motivation, you will be on the right track to making the right choices.

Talk to family and friends. Their support is so important. Tell them what you are considering and seek honest opinions. Do you really have the great skills you think you have? They might just tell you the harsh truth. 

When you meet with the franchisor, you will discover what key skills they need for their business. If you hate getting up early in the morning, then a business involving a breakfast service is unlikely to be right for you. If you dislike making cold calls, and the role demands it, strike it from your list. And, fundamentally, your concept of quality should match that of the franchisor.  

What will success look like? Speak to two or three trading franchisees of your choice and ask them what the challenges are. Also discover what they find especially rewarding. Are they happy with the support and guidance provided by their franchisor, both during start-up and beyond? Does the franchisor still actively support the development of their business?

In franchising, one size does not fit all. Therefore, it is essential that you choose one that mirrors your motivations and needs. Don’t forget, you will enter into a contract for a number of years, during which period you must deliver the targets set by the franchisor. You will be operating their business system and, at times, this will be challenging. Loving what you do will carry you through.

There are hundreds of thousands of happy franchisees doing what they thoroughly enjoy – building successful businesses. Just make sure that you are one of them and don’t jump from ‘frying pan into fire’ like I did all those years ago.

About the Author

Louise Harris

Louise Harris

Louise has been in franchising since 2006 first as a franchisee. In 2010, she became a franchisor, launching the award-winning Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchise. She is a fierce advocate for ethical business-format franchising and has served in on the board of the British Franchise Association, and several committees. She now runs Franchise Projects, completing critical tasks for franchised businesses that help them deliver to ethical franchise standards.

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