Prospective Franchisee: Know Thyself

Starting a business from scratch is a gargantuan task. Entrepreneurs set to work with no initial training, no operations manual, no start-up package, no ongoing support, no guidance, no marketing support and no established brand identity. Only franchisees enjoy such benefits, which is why franchise ownership is so popular. FDS Northern Consultant Tony Urwin explains

The training, support and structure offered by franchisors make business ownership a whole lot easier - but make no mistake, they don't make it easy. If you have never owned or operated a business before, you should ask yourself a few questions to gauge whether business ownership is for you.

Can you multi-task?

During the launch of a franchise, you will have to act as manager, marketeer, salesman, customer service representative, payroll master, worker, and more. You won't necessarily start with a lot of staff or any other staff for that matter. Services must be delivered, calls must be made, goods must be received, customers must be satisfied, and bills will have to be paid. You must be confident that you can perform many jobs concurrently, and be able to set priorities along the way.

Can you play by the rules?

Every business is governed by a detailed set of laws and regulations and is obliged to collect and pay taxes. Franchise businesses must also pay management service fees, and are required to respect another body of rules: those dictated by their franchisor. If you resent authority, bridle at the thought of rules, regulations and financial obligations, and think yourself able to work around them, franchise ownership may not be for you. Whatever short-term gain you make by bending rules or avoiding payments, you lose in increased risk to your business, and yourself. As the saying goes, in the fight between you and the world... back the world.

Can you set goals for yourself and work towards them?

Business owners and managers must be able to set measurable short- and long-term goals, and work tirelessly towards their achievement. Goals help keep business owners focused on success and helps keep them from losing themselves in distracting activities that drain resources and accomplish little. Goals also provide a measure for the success of a business and help establish priorities. People who tend to live their life from day-to-day goals and who can't and don't set goalposts for themselves may undermine their chances for success.

Are you ready to sacrifice?

While establishing their business, franchisees work long hours, take little in the way of holidays and don't know with certainty how much money they will take home. They pay their bank, their suppliers, and their employees before they pay themselves. The rewards that come from a successful business cannot be achieved without sacrifice. Can you give up working 9 to 5, your free time, four weeks of holiday every year, and knowing how much you'll make - for an indefinite period of time - for a larger goal?

Do you have strong interpersonal skills?

Salaried employees have to get along with bosses and co-workers. As a franchise business owner, you're the boss! As the owner, you just have to get along with your employees, suppliers, lawyers, accountants, government officials, franchise manager, and of course, your customers. Business ownership doesn't save you from the challenge of getting on with others. Successful owners understand and appreciate individual differences, and can work with all personality types. They listen, and are in tune with their customer's needs. Those who have trouble managing relationships, and who don't enjoy working with others may find business ownership extremely challenging.

Do you have some business experience?

The magic of franchising is that it allows previously untrained persons to own and operate a proven business. Note that untrained does not necessarily mean completely inexperienced. Business experience is a valuable asset, and most franchisors ask that their franchisees have at least some - so do most banks, before they will grant you a business loan. If you lack the requisite experience, volunteer at a related business or try to get a part-time or weekend job in the field. You will do yourself a great service.

Are you determined and optimistic?

A business will not always perform as well as you plan. There may be rough patches. If you tend to run from trouble, business ownership may not be right for you. The brass ring goes to those with a relentlessly positive outlook and the determination to stay the course.

FDS-Northern has seven years' experience helping franchisors across Northern England and Scotland recruit those franchisees that have the greatest potential for success. The candidates we bring our clients can give a positive answer to every question above. These candidates tend to be granted the franchise licence they seek, and go on to achieve tremendous returns.