Entrepreneurship & You!

where do entrepreneurs come from“Just because something isn’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean that it will never happen.” This is a quote I saw pop up on Facebook and it got me thinking about how many individuals put off taking a step into entrepreneurship, maybe waiting for the perfect time, and the perfect opportunity, or if already a business owner, putting off the necessary next steps to grow their business. I thought, Is that true? Or, is it really just not having the information necessary to move forward?

Many times it takes being able to find useful information that will help a person along, whether to inspire and motivate them and/or to provide them with insight and perspective so that they may make an informed decision – one they’re comfortable with making. Often, it’s just something that becomes an eye-opener to possibilities or potential solutions. So, I’ve decided to help…

My mission is clear, to help individuals from all walks of life understand various aspects of entrepreneurship, whether exploring possibilities or expanding upon current business ownership. Over the past six months I’ve developed a plan to do just that and have created “Entrepreneurship & You.”

“Entrepreneurship & You” was developed to provide information, insight & perspective about entrepreneurship – whether to explore possibilities, expand upon ideas or build upon current business ownership, as applicable across various business platforms and distribution models including:

  • Small Business – startup or acquisition; improving current business operations; business expansion
  • Franchising – single or multi-unit ownership; enterprise opportunities; growth strategy for current business
  • Network Marketing – understanding and exploring this fast-growing business model; improving current business
  • Freelancing – turning creative skills into a business and how to grow that business
  • Professional Services – starting out as a sole practitioner in law, health & wellness, insurance or financial services; improving and expanding current business practice
  • Addressing useful topics for future and current entrepreneurs including personal branding, social media, technology, financing, business management, inspiration & motivation, news & events and also information specific to various interest groups – Millennials, Seniors, Veterans, Minorities, Transitioning Executives, Females, Moms and more.

The Facebook page of same name is an introduction of sorts with a soon-to-be-launched website, blog and podcast – all of the same name as well.  I respectfully request for you to please take a moment to visit the Facebook page and if you like what you see, please LIKE and SHARE the page with others. (If you don’t, please feel free to share your thoughts with me.)

Also, if you’re interested in contributing information as a guest blogger (and potentially a site expert) about any aspect of entrepreneurship including small business, franchising, network marketing, etc. please contact me directly atsegreto.paul@gmail.com or in a message right here on LinkedIn.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Posted in Franchising | Leave a comment

Accelerate Digital Efforts for Success

Technology CloudFive years later, my thoughts and perspective on social media and technology remain consistent. Yes, standing the test of time has been key as we’ve seen many organizations offering social media services disappear since my article,  Simplifying Social Media for Optimum Results first appeared five years ago inInternational Franchise Association publication, Franchising World. In fact, as people in all walks of life continue to spend more and more time in the digital world, and on smart phones and tablets, we have progressively developed more effective ways to utilize social media and digital technology for both consumer and candidate proposition within franchise organizations.

A structured, yet customized program is the basis for our Accelerated Digital Strategies service offering with key components joining the realm of social media including content marketing, influencer marketing, community building and, reverse-engineered lead attraction (Note: Not lead generation of the old & tired variety!). Of course, each component is built upon sub-strategies focused on detailed consumer & candidate profiling, comprehensive brand content development & management, and integrated digital marketing tactics (mostly, specific to franchising). It’s been well-tested and proven since 2010, but is still work-in-progress as new technologies are developed. We’re up to the continuing challenge and we’re extremely excited by how Accelerated Digital Strategies will help franchise brands of all sizes exceed growth goals at all levels by…

  • Delivering consistent, unique messaging regarding brand, its franchise opportunity and about franchising and small business ownership.
  • Creating and fortifying brand awareness.
  • Educating candidates with information important and relevant to them.
  • Providing a “bumper” effect to keep brand front and center.
  • Attracting ideal candidates at multiple touch points within the digital space.
  • Establishing 4-step process into and through franchise sales funnel.
  • Introducing brand’s expert use of technology.
  • Promoting brand’s growth and milestones along with complementing and enhancing public relations efforts.
  • Reinforcing truth, trust and transparency while developing relationships.
  • Enabling candidates to virtually stand shoulder-to-shoulder with brand stakeholders.
  • Building community – local, regional, national and within industry segment.
  • Relationship-building and sales efforts reinforced via Personal Branding.

All of the above have been outlined for utilization within a franchise environment. However, with appropriate modification, Accelerated Digital Strategies is effective for independent small businesses, network marketing and other products and services distribution models. It is has also proven successful for business professionals and entrepreneurs who, as individuals are their own brand.

Posted in Franchising | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Four Steps to Social Media Success

Share Interact EngageYesterday, Deb Evans, president of Franchise Foundry shared with me a great article about things we can learn from teens about about social media. To me, the article was spot-on. Point blank, the reason teens are better at social media than, well, anybody, is answered directly in the article as follows:

“Because teens aren’t on social media to promote or sell. They’re there for 1 main reason… To be social!”

The article reaffirmed some things in my mind about social media that we at Franchise Foundry execute on for both our franchise development and accelerated digital strategies clients, but many companies haven’t even begun to do, are afraid to and/or have no clue how to do. One thing in particular is integration across platforms. Another is community-building. And, another is avoiding brand regurgitation making sure to be social and to make it about the audience, not just about the brand.

The key, the true key is that businesses (and marketers) view social media solely as marketing while teens look at it as communicating (sharing information, interacting, engaging… developing the relationship whereby asking for something, a call-for-action, if you will, is normal to the relationship, it is not out of sync, it is not overstepping boundaries, it is not selfish – instead, it is earned! Yes, these are my four steps to social media success – share, interact, engage and then, only then have your earned the right for a call-to-action… and together they are quite effective as they’re all about communicating first, marketing second.

Posted in Franchise Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Key Points to Strong Franchise Relationships

Building Solid RelationshipsValidation and multi-unit ownership are strong indicators that positively memorable experiences exist within your franchise system. Another way to confirm the existence of these experiences is simply to ask your franchisees: would you do it all over again? However, as a franchisor you must first earn the right to even be taken seriously if you ask this question.

As you head down the path of creating positively memorable experiences with each and every franchisee, be sure to consider ALL touch points – even those beyond the obvious mediums of in-person, by phone and via email. Think digitally!

How do you interact with franchisees on Facebook? How do you come across to your franchisees in LinkedIn discussion groups? Is there common courtesy? Are you proud of each other’s actions within these platforms?

Many will refer to all of this as being great in theory, and not really practical. But just think what could happen if every touch point were seen as another opportunity to create or enhance a positively memorable experiences. How would that change the culture of your system? How would that lend towards growing your brand? Think of the ripple effect.

Here are six key points to creating positively memorable experiences in a franchise organization:

  1. Understanding the true meaning AND spirit of interdependent franchise relationships. This must be shared and exemplified at every point of contact with franchisees.
  2. Developing the right culture at all levels. Be careful- culture is also defined as bacteria! This takes time and commitment, and is a reflection of how people, whether franchisees, employees, suppliers or others, are treated at all times.
  3. Creating an environment of truth, trust and transparency based upon open, two-way communications – the cornerstone of creating the right culture. Think of a three-legged stool that could hold a great deal of weight when fully intact, yet would immediately fall under its own weight if one leg was compromised.
  4. Establishing your franchise system as family. Treat them as such but understand that this is not the typical type of family of yesteryear with subservience to the head of the household. Mutual respect is paramount!
  5. Building an environment of bottom-up profitability and growth with ALL parties to the franchise agreement and other related agreements focused on mutual goals and objectives. All must sing out of the same hymnal, and not just for dress rehearsal – so be sure to give them the hymn book.
  6. Positively Memorable Experiences – Live it and breathe it every day for optimum results!
Posted in Franchise Relations | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Social Networking & Franchise Lead Generation Revisited

In light of discussions at this year’s International Franchise Association Convention about “new” ways of generating franchise candidate leads, and as I continue to field an influx of questions from start up and emerging franchisors trying to find a “silver bullet” to jump-start franchise sales, I am again sharing the following article I wrote back in 2011 as the principles continue to apply to this day. Actually, they may apply even more today as more and more have adopted social networking platforms as major sources of securing information and for communicating.

Social Networking and Lead Generation

We’re often asked if social networking can be utilized effectively for franchise lead generation purposes. Well, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

When working on a lead generation project, establishing objectives is paramount to the success of the overall strategy. Assuming the strategy has been developed, complete with establishing an ideal candidate profile and identifying specific geographic areas for expansion, we typically proceed as follows:

First, we focus on networking groups that include individuals that best fit our client’s ideal candidate profile. From there we drill down to individuals in the geographic area we’re targeting per our plan. Let’s say teachers fit my candidate profile. we would search out networking groups specific to teachers, education, etc. Then, we would participate in discussion groups to get a feel for the group and to be noticed and subsequently accepted within the group. There’s always a spin one could use to achieve this objective.

Next, we seek out members from the specific geographic areas we’re targeting and begin communicating what we’re ultimately trying to accomplish… to generate interest in a specific franchise opportunity. Sometimes there’s interest right there in the group. Often, it’s a referral that we get that makes the effort within that group worthwhile.

We also focus on groups that can provide me with referrals such as insurance agents, realtors, financial planners and attorneys. Again, if you’re proactive within networking groups it’s relatively easy to enlist support and gather information. Again, there has been some interest from members of these groups but it’s amazing how many times we’ve been referred to an interested party who lives in another part of the country that is willing to jump at an opportunity in my target area. You see, the fact that it stems from a referral is key!

Lead generation through social networking takes time and effort no doubt. However, once you’re proactive within networking groups, you almost end up with a snowball effect as the leads come in bunches. Some leads start out by simply posting a thought provoking discussion with some back and forth interaction with a responder and the responder saying,”what is it that you do?” Next thing you know, you’re discussing an opportunity and the door is wide open.

Most times however, it takes considerably more effort, but we’ve found people are networking online and participating in discussion groups for specific reasons. They’re all looking to expand their business, improve their position, seek out various types of opportunities, and make money. Attracting these individuals online sure beats running an ad in the local paper and waiting for the phone to ring!

Posted in Lead Generation, Social Media/Digital Marketing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment