Tag Archives: Banks

How You Can Contribute to Fostering Global Business Confidence

Confidence is an elusive concept, yet it defines how we move forward and by how much, doesn’t it? Being a specialist in the field of “small business” which is what franchising is at the end of the day – I am fascinated to see the very real link between how a country moves on from a recession/hard times and the health of small businesses. Unsurprisingly there is a strong correlation (and you may agree or disagree on this)…because, at the end of the day, our economic world as we know it revolves around people…their perceptions and their experience of the world. Is it as simple as that? Yes, I think it is.

It is my (perhaps naive) thought that if everyone decided tomorrow that they are going to get up, go to work and do what needs doing to get to their next phase of growth or development – the economy would start to balance out. Which means:

  • make that stationery order that you need, to print off the handouts for that course that you want to run;
  • hire that extra member of staff you need to relieve you to go out and get more business;
  • get that bigger office you have needed for the last 18months and make sure your staff are comfortable and you have the extra space for that new staff member;
  • go on that course you know will give you the knowledge or skills to pump back into your business.

There is only so long that you can sit waiting for the Economic Gods to turn around and annoint you “able to get on with business”. I realise there are some very real issues for people at the moment around cashflow and the inability of bank managers to actually deal with good customers the way they should be – and I can appreciate that – but there are little ways that you can start to get money moving in the economy again – and…that stationery order could just be it.

Here are some thought provoking elements for you to consider:

A. Good CEO’s Think Before They Spend

But – they do spend. They realise that they can only move forward by investing in tomorrow. They properly weigh up what needs doing, what needs investing in, prioritise it…and then DO IT. Are you a good CEO?

B. EMPLOYMENT IS DOWN WITH START-UPS

I read an article recently about how the trend over the last decade has been that on average a small business does not hire more than 5 people – whereas years gone by it used to be an average of 7. That has a massive impact globally – meaning that there will have to be many more start-ups before they can actually contribute signiifantly to reducing unemployment. My point – if you know damn well you need that extra member of staff – don’t hold out – hire them. Your business and country will be better for it.

Techonology has played a big part in this to be fair (i.e. you can do more with less nowadays), so big business needs to pull rank on helping more in the employment %.

PS – Don’t hire indiscriminately! There is an important element of still identifying the real need for extra skills/helps which will make a big impact to the business.

C. YOUR SPOUSE IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT INVESTOR

In tougher times, this can’t be stressed more. If you do not have the support at home to get up every day and keep at it – you will burn out and lose the plot altogether. So, if you want to boost your own confidence in your business, maybe start at home – take your partner out for a nice meal and a bottle of wine and give them an insight into how the “dullness” of the confidence in the economy is affecting you as a business owner and that you want to make stand and not “go with the flow”. You might be surpised how this can help turn things around.

D. DO NOT NEGLECT THE “BRAIN” IN YOUR BUSINESS

Without harping on about this one – because you do know it all – your brain in the business is the reason you are in it. Your Business Plan. Now this could be a flowchart on your wall; a 10 page structured document; or a simple collage of things on your notice board. Whatever that brain looks like for you – make sure that you have revisited it to check where you are, so that you can adjust if need be and you’re not pushing dung (yucky business you’d rather not be doing) up a hill for a client that doesn’t actually need it. In short: make sure you are deliveirng what your customers want and will pay money for it…and that you are paying your bills. Simple as that.

Now – go forth and knock the negativity on the head and start to share good things, freely give positive support for your fellow business owners and let’s just crack on out of this economic puddle of poo (sorry – had to carry the dung beetle metaphor forward here!)

Please comment below and share any thoughts you have on how we can all collectively bring our powers together to lift things into a new, more vibrant year next year. I’d love to hear from you!

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3 Ways to Build Your Business to Franchise It

If there is anything that this recession has taught me as a franchise consultant – its that if people were afraid to grow before, they are damn near petrified to do it during a recession. Its such a pity – although you can understand when part (or two thirds) of the recession is based on the bank’s poor management or utilisation of financial tools. The small entrepreneur doesn’t have the support or resource of funding from a “trustworthy” institution to help spur and encourage his growth.

So, after reading a blog article about the ways to build your business on a budget, I thought that after the year I have had on the consulting front – it wouldn’t hurt to put together my Top 3 Tips on how to build you business towards franchising…so that you can do it in the next 2 years and not wait for the banks to sort themselves out.

TIP 1: PROVE AND DOCUMENT THE MODEL

Everything you are doing now is fantastic, but want I’d like you to think about is actually taking it a step further. Take an extra 30mins to an hour a day to reflect on the system or process that you enacted or initiated in that day – map it out and put it to one side.

At the end of the month – pull out the maps you have done through the month and stick them on your wall so you can stand back and look at them. This is a nifty way of trying to “third” position your business and pretend you are looking purely at the flow of actions. Do they make sense? When did you last update them? What is the most effective way to do something? What obstacles have you overcome?

These elements are the bits that will heighten your value to a prospective franchisee.

TIP 2:  PRICING FOR PROFIT

We all know that when we first start out in business, we don’t actually know how to price our services and proucts. Make a concerted effort to really make sure that your pricing:

  • Includes a true reflection of the time and effort you put in to market and deliver the service/product
  • Covers all costs incurred to put that service or product together (don’t forget delivery and collation where applicable)
  • Includes a good margin for profit (anywhere between 15% and 30%) – don’t forget that this is why you are in business

If you haven’t done a good competitor litmus test on pricing – make sure you take the opportunity to …and compare like for like. Pricing is big hurdle for newbies to business – but having this sorted for a franchisee and having proof that the product/service sells (well) at those prices – that’s a big PLUS.

TIP 3: PUT IT IN A PRETTY DRESS

We all know that it takes a lot of hard work to make a business successful and there are no “real” easy fixes, however…we also know that if we love what we do …the degree of “hard” diminishes. If you are thinking of growing your business and want to consider franchising…make sure you make the proposition attractive enough to get the deserving interest.

I’m not saying lie about what the business entails – I mean make sure that you build in the elements that would make the business look exciting and enticing to join (look at elements of branding, support, tools, alternative avenues for revenue, etc). A pretty dress attracts the interest, but its the person (or business) wearing it that will retain the attention – if that makes sense at all!

So – take those three tips and build your business towards the opportunity of growth (while we wait for the dearly mis-directed banks to get their act together and see that businesses need them to help them grow and pick the economy up!)

If you have any comments. questions or feedback you would like to give about your experiences of trying to grow in this environment – please share them with me below!

Will the Banks Step Up Now?

One of the crucial keys to keeping businesses moving and healthy is a trustworthy source of ‘Parent Finance’.

What do I mean by Parent Finance? Well – that’s what I call the ‘back-up-plan-for-when-the-fat-hits-the-fan’ option. Nowadays its hard enough growing up, but trying to afford to buy a house, start a business, grow a family….these things are becoming more and more difficult for each new generation.

Now you could argue that older generations were less materialistic and more realistic about what they could afford and well…credit cards hadn’t been invented. I would definitely agree in part with this – however there is a huge chunk of reality that slaps new generations in the face:

(a) out-of -reach mortgages (home loans),

(b) property prices and

(c) the cost of living being at an all time high.

My worry is that this will adversely affect the sprouting of new businesses and the future entrepreneurs out there. Heck I have a daughter that is 4 months old and my biggest wish is for her to be able to do absolutely anything her heart desires and florish at what she is (will be) good at – what I don’t want is money to stop her being all that she can be.

I have never been one to lend money – but you can see why you need to…when it comes to trying to start and/or grow a business. For franchises – financing is pretty crucial especially for a start-up franchisor. He/she has a lot of work to put in, in order to get his/her model into a healthy franchisable position and be able to support a new growing network of franchisees. What I don’t understand is banks that have dealt with some business owners for years (even in a personal capacity) are not willing to sit down, have a chat mano-e-mano (or womano) and see what is POSSIBLE…as opposed to immediately jumping on to the fence of ‘NO WAY…not possible’.

I dare any bank to revert back to the good old of days of healthy client relationships based on give and take…and most importantly trust. As with disciplining children….parents oddly end up punishing the good kids…because one bad kid messed up. I feel that the ‘loan requirements’ nowadays are a result of years of bureaucracy and once off fraud cases….and have become as stifling as a mole that can’t find away back up to the light.

What are your experiences or thoughts on the subject?

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Economy Slowing…Franchising Hotting Up

I am awfully happy to report that there are some more positive stories coming out now – although I have to find them in round about ways. It seems that some people are really being creative about how they get through this period, and are looking at how they do business, as well as how they spend their money. Of course there are the few key drivers that will move the more entrepreneurial minded people towards franchising, and those are:

– not wanting to return to corporate employment (the view of ‘job security’ as changed)

– create something for themselves, with the umbrella of support that franchising provides

– having received the redundancy pay-outs,, this helps them to invest in the right franchise opportunity

Banks in the UK still not actively supporting business (especially small business)… in lending responsibly to those that have viable business plans and have shown steady and unwaivering growth over the last couple of years. My message on that score is – ‘Banks…you best be careful’. When the tide turns and business owners can afford to choose…they will choose those banks or personal bankers who listened, supported and guided as much as they could. They won’t choose those that handed them a multi-page loan application form with hoops and boxes to leap and tick just to get the £15000 they needed to keep their business going and growing.

Its scary how the economy is grinding to a halt – but I have every faith that with the combined entrepreneurial conscienciousness out there – the kickstart is coming soon!

Click here for a story of someone in the US who used his redundancy payout to get into business for himself with the Mr Handyman franchise.

Do note that getting into business for yourself is not the easy route – its even harder than you think it is, but there are payoffs in the longrun.

Me as a Handyman

Me as a Handyman



How Government Could Help Small Businesses

I normally turn to regulated countries to see how they have progressed in their franchise markets in order to take the industry and all the people that go with it to greater heights.

There is an organisation in the States called: The Small Business Administration (see: http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/index.html) who help small businesses start, build and grow. On their site they say “We recognize that small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength, to building America’s future, and to helping the United States compete in today’s global marketplace.”

How do they do this? They have a framework in place that helps to expedite small business loans (amongst other things). A good example is that Franchisors can have their business accredited/approved by the SBA, so that any incoming franchisees seeking finance have a fantastic chance of getting their finance approved quicker. Obviously the usual finance credibility criteria would stand – however, by some of the hoops already being jumped by the Franchisor right upfront – he has a better chance of growing his network of franchisees with this endorsement.

We still don’t have something like this in place in the UK. Some banks will say that they ‘approve’ certain franchisors (but only off the basis of that model already being run elsewhere and with multiple sites). However there is no real framework in place that (a) Banks can trust and therefore approve the Franchisor’s Business Plan and Model and (b) incoming franchisees can trust to give them an indication of the Franchisor’s value long term.

What have your experiences been as a prospective franchisee looking for finance to invest in a franchise?