Tag Archives: small business

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!

Economist Online Fairs Presents: The Economist’s Franchise Fair

A GUEST POST by Elizabeth Pace, Marketing  & Online Fairs. The Economist Group (New York) __________________________________

If you are thinking about investing in a franchise, The Economist’s online Franchise Fair provides a unique opportunity to meet a variety of franchisers and consultants in real time. The fair is hosted by Economist Online Fairs and takes place on June 28th and 29th 2011. Admission is completely free, but space is limited so register in advance.

The Franchise Fair will feature over a dozen leading franchises and consultant firms that can offer free tips and advice to attendees, whether multi-franchisees or first-time investors. Exhibitors include Nationwide, Maid Brigade Valpak, Yogurtland and many more. For a full list of exhibitors, visit the registration site.

Fair attendees can join topical chat sessions, access testimonials and download resources. There will also be informational webinars hosted by franchise experts, where attendees can interact and ask questions, including:

  •  International Franchising: What to Look For When Purchasing a Franchise
  • Why Buy a Franchise?
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company: An Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

The state-of-the-art online fair interface is modeled after a traditional tradeshow.  Attendees can log in from their home or office computers and browse virtual exhibitor booths at their leisure. The fair will be open for a full 48 hours. There will also be several live sessions during this 48-hour period where exhibitors will be available to chat live.

Franchise Fair Live Sessions:

  • June 28: 9:00 AM EST to 1:00 PM EST  (1pm GMT to 5pm GMT)
  • June 28: 4:00 PM EST to 8:00 PM EST  (9pm GMT to 12am GMT)
  • June 29: 12:00 PM EST to 4:00 PM EST (4pm GMT to 8pm GMT)

 Register FREE today! 

Questions or comments can be e-mailed to CustomerSupport-OnlineFairs@economist.com.

Franchising Going Digital?

I knew it would come, in fact, I was waiting for one of my news feeds to have brought me a story about it a long time ago. An American serial entrepreneur, Jim Piccolo, has not only jumped into the world of franchising (for what seems the first time), but he has also leaped into the ‘new’ fandango world of digital marketing. Digital marketing is a relatively new field which has grown off the back of the rise of social media and all the channels that it opens up for business owners in marketing their businesses online.

Piccolo reportedly expects to invest $45million in starting the BizziBiz Franchise business, with the franchisee paying $18,000 for  a franchise with two employees and $25,000 for a franchise with unlimited employees. The franchisee will in essence be selling localised digital marketing – i.e. encompassing social media, search marketing, free and paid media, and blogging.

As ever, I am more than pleased to hear of new and innovative franchise models, but I do still hope that certain rock solution keystones are in place:

  • The Franchisor can recoop what he has invested in building the model
  • The franchise model is sustainable long term
  • The Franchisee can recoop his investment within a relatively GOOD period of time
  • The franchisee’s profitability is secured (i.e. the model isn’t based on a loose wing and a prayer)…obviously matched with a hardworking, amibitious franchisee!
  • The Franchisor makes money in the long term success of the franchisee (and not in the upfront fees and/or a wish for a quick exit at a high return)

So, I wish Piccolo the  best – its great to see a digital marketing franchise take to the stage – I will be very interested to watch how it progresses and grows over the next year.

Footfall and Location: Retail Currency

For a bricks and mortar business that depends on people coming into the premises to make a profit, there are two main things that a business owner has to focus on: Footfall and Location.

For any franchise business (or any other business for that matter), especially one that involves having a premises (like a shop, restaurant, office, etc) it is really important to get the location right. I know more than enough businesses that have failed purely because they were a road away from where they should be. Plain and simple. So – franchisors – do your homework! The last thing you want is a franchisee to end up in the wrong location.

Good franchisors will have an approval process built in to their models, so that they have to approve a new premises for a new (or existing) franchisee – purely because of getting the location right (but it also might well be a branding issue ). This is not to be tedious – its to make sure that the decision is well-thought out and not merely based on cost-effectiveness. You may end up with a ‘cheap’ rent…but no customers. Beware!

Next element is footfall (tied closely with location). If you are pretty reliant on footfall in order to get interest in your business, you not only have to be pretty strategic about where your premises is based, but you also have to be clever about getting people into the store. This means looking at your ‘Come to my Shop’ strategy. What is this? Its a mix of branding, marketing and PR campaigns to heighten peoples’ awareness for who you are, where you are and what you do.

Enter a free social media tool that is perfect for driving people to your shop…Foursquare. I hear some sighing. But seriously, if you haven’t looked at this tool – then you are seriously missing out. I have spent some time looking at what Foursquare means for a small bricks and mortar business and to be honest…its fantastic to generate interest and to heighten awareness for your business. I think it is superb for: pubs, restaurants, high street shops, leisure venues, sports events, community locations, etc.

For a quick help on the matter have a look at this video from Mari Smith on the Social Media Examiner tv channel. (She also chats about Flipboard and Facebook, but watch anyhow…its short, sweet & to the point – which I like!)

So, my message for you is: if FOOTFALL and LOCATION are two big issues for you as a business, make sure you are paying enough attention to them and you are also looking at innovative ways to get people through your door. What you do with them when they get through your door – I will leave to you to realise the value of retaining customers!

Let me know how you get on.

Family Franchise Businesses

More and more the trend nowadays is for a family to come together to make a business work.

Through a survey I did towards the end of 2009  – I’ve found that the growing trend is that people are pushed out of employment and into self-employment for a variety of reasons. Some of these are:

1) Dissatisfaction with the quality of management within their current job

2) No incentive provided in the workplace for any initiative or true involvement in the business (in fact any ideas are squashed before they are even heard), and most of all…

3) No real financial reward (vs the time and effort put into the job) that matches expectation (this includes time in lieu of many hours of overtime above and beyond the call of duty).

So, what does this mean? Well, you will probably be so unhappy that your family around you may well say ‘Hey, why don’t we just do something for ourselves?’. This is why franchising then becomes an attractive idea – because:

  • There is a lower risk at start-up (especially with established franchise models with proven statistics and performance from current franchisees)
  • Any money invested upfront is going towards business support, set-up etc – and this has all been worked out for you
  • Working with people you know and trust (your family) helps to eliminate the worry of employing unreliable staff

Now, of course, we could have a whole discussion on the dangers of going into business with family – but there are more than enough families out there making a go of it than you think!

The top tips for making a family run franchise business work?

  • Everyone needs to have their own roles very clear from the outset
  • Someone is elected as the Boss (end of story)
  • Someone is elected as the Organised One (every business needs one of these) – to whom everyone needs to listen to in order to be efficient and cost effective
  • Someone is elected as the Finance Person (every business needs one of these – this maybe outside of the business)
  • Everyone needs to be earning a salary (or at least agree what that WILL be in the future…give a date…if there is a consensus to hold off for the first few months)
  • A Team meeting needs to happen at least every two weeks to have a talk around the table to clear any issues, or PAT anyone on the back for a job well done

Respect who you are working with and they will respect you – this goes DOUBLE for family run businesses. Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son, Aunty, Uncle….those titles are not relevant during the work day.

Have you had any experiences working in family-run business? Please do let me know about it in the comments box below! I want to hear good and bad stories!

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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