The Truth About Startups

The process

Many people think startups are up and to the right all the time. But more exhibit this startup curve than any other growth pattern. Of course, some never get past the “trough of sorrow”. But many do. Mostly by staying focused on the problem they are trying to solve and working diligently to get to the promised land.

Would love to hear some thoughts on this from franchise founders, business owners and entrepreneurs!

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Apple

50 Inspirational Quotes for Startups and Entrepreneurs

Opinions, Insight and Perspectives on Franchising

I recently posted a question on Linkedin that addressed the primary reasons to explore franchising. Below please find several of the responses from a cross-section of industry and non-industry professionals . As I have done in the past, the names of the responding individuals will be kept confidential. Instead, they will only identified by their Linkedin statement or profile.

doors-optionsWhat is your opinion of franchising as a business model, business expansion strategy and as a career alternative?
as posted in the Q & A section on LinkedIn under Franchising

An SAP Consultant with some franchising experience obviously has done his homework and offered valuable advice as well as sharing some real life experiences.

“I have studied business and many individual businesses personally. I read many business cases and books and have a deep interest in business models and how they work in the current market.

First of all, check out the book ‘The E-myth Revisited?’ It is a very interesting way of viewing a business model. It describes the benefits of the franchise way of doing business.

I also have been involved in a few franchise opportunities, most recently, I was looking to purchase a tanning franchise. The business model was highly tuned, the computer system was revolutionary and perfectly adapted to the business through many years of iterations. The computer system alone would allow you to manage multiple stores with very little hands on control. The power of the franchise itself brought purchasing power and brand recognition which would have been difficult to built independently. The small percentage of revenues to fund regional advertising brought in enough business that I could have been almost completely hands off while still turning a sizable profit.

In short, most entrepreneurs work IN their business, but at a point you need to delegate so you can work ON your business. And franchising is a marvelous way (for most businesses) to grow exponentially.”

This next response if from a business coach that specializes in guerilla marketing strategies. Before I even read her response i knew I would agree with her perspective of franchisees needing to be prepared to work hard despite buying into a system. How true, indeed.

“I think that Franchises represent an great opportunity for some people. They can provide an excellent template for success, as well as resources and support as you are growing your business. That said, opening a franchise is just like starting any other business from the standpoint that you must have a clear idea as to how you will drive customers to your product/service. A franchisor will provide you with the tools and a blueprint, but you are going to have to do a lot of the heavy-lifting yourself. Make sure you are prepared!

Before committing to any franchise, talk to some of their current (and former!) franchisees. Don’t just call the people the franchisor tells you to call; reach deeper into their list of franchisees. Develop a list of questions that you can ask that help you to understand whether this particular franchise is going to be a good fit for you.

Lastly, if you are someone who doesn’t really like “rules”, you may want to think twice about franchising. What makes franchises work is that things are delivered consistently. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how well you follow rules!”

An entrepreneur who previously founded a small franchise company offered his view which it appears may have been formed by some entrepreneurial types that entered into a franchise agreement with his franchise company. Personally, I do not believe true entrepreneurs make very good franchisees. On the flip-side, is he referring to true entrepreneurs or franchisees that just had buyer’s remorse and had to blame someone for their poor performance and/or failure?

“I could wax on for hours on the subject and don’t have the finger skills to type it all, but…

First, my qualifications: I founded/own a successful retail business for over 15 years. I have created multiple businesses, some successful, some not, but all independent. I also created a retail concept that I franchised. So I have the unique view of being an independent and a franchisor.

Here are some quotes:
-A franchise is like a bicycle with training wheels. Once you learn how to ride, you won’t want training wheels anymore.
-Franchising is for those who want you to help them…but, then to leave them alone. In other words they want to be indies, but in a community.
-A franchise is only as good as it’s support.
-If a franchise operation doesn’t give back in value more than royalties paid in, the franchisee will eventually resent writing a check to “the mother ship”.
-A franchise is a business model that people expect to have it all figured out – no one has it all figured out.”

A very well-respected and experienced franchise consultant offered his perspective from having worked with individuals explore franchising as a career alternative. I agree that many explore business ownership options because they cannot find a career position that will compensate them as they have grown accustomed to in the past. the choice between franchise and startup often comes down to risk.

“As a business model I think that franchising is or has taken the place of corporate expansion in a lot of cases. Especially in the startup sector. I don’t know how many times recently I have been contacted from a startup that wants to expand via franchising.

I am talking to a lot of people that are looking at franchising as an alternative career path. Most of them are coming to me because they can’t find a job, it isn’t that they don’t want one, but they can’t find one making the money they were making before.

So they turn to owning a business and a logical choice for some of them is a franchise. For others it is starting their own business.

I think it comes down to personal preference and ability to cope with risk factors. I think most of the people that buy a franchise do so to help reduce their risk, so if they were really looking for a job and then had to buy a business, a franchise is probably a one choice.

About 1/3 of my clients are people in this situation that were looking for a new career, due to recent economic conditions, and they couldn’t find what they were looking for.”

An upstart franchise founder offers her views from the perspective of being new to franchising but quite experienced in running her own business. She appears to be spot on about ideal franchise relationships but I look forward to discussing her thoughts after she awards her first four or five franchises.

“As a career alternative, franchises are not for entrepreneurs, whose M.O. is ‘anything you can do, I can do better’. As an expansion strategy, it depends on the industry, product, service and system. For those that rely heavily on outside sales, for instance, hiring salespeople is more risky and time consuming than offering the opportunity for ownership.

I agree that franchising is a great way to grow by working on your business instead of in it.

Franchises offer franchisees:
– Self direction (while some do, many don’t have too-stringent rules)
– Higher income potential than a fixed salary or most sales positions, and often even more than business ownership because growth may be better supported
– Proven solutions to problems that exist in the market, the basis for any startup
– Elimination or reduction of what can often be years or decades of research, development, relationship building and trial and error and financial investment
– SUPPORT”

Startups: Do We Really Need Them?

bonsai-treeI recently responded to a group discussion on LinkedIn where an MBA student asked the question, “Do we need startups?” This student went on to add, ” I just read Digital Darwinism by Evan Schwartz and it led me to wonder, with so many startups I hear about each day, How many actually serve a purpose? How many actually provide a non redundant solution to a problem?” After considerable thought, I responded accordingly…

Interesting thought. “Recycled” businesses instead of closed businesses. If you can’t make it, give someone else a shot. Diversification would be a necessity. Successful business may be worth more.

On the other side of the coin, startups brought us Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Henry Ford just to name a few. Would they have been as innovative working for a company as opposed to blazing the trails themselves? What would the world have missed without them? Would tomorrow’s Gates, Jobs, Disneys and Fords be left to work “within the box” as opposed to “outside the box?”

I have not even begun to think about the rise of even more powerful companies resulting in massive monopolies. In the end, would we wind up with just a small handful of enormous conglomerates owning and operating every industry? Or, could we end up with only one all powerful entity controlling all industries, and the world?

No startups? I think not! But still an interesting thought to say the least.

So, back to answering your question – I believe they all serve a purpose in lending to innovation and creativity that are vital to our future. Vital to democracy. Vital to free enterprise. Vital to helping third world countries. Vital to making the world a better place for today and tomorrow.

Redundant solutions? Without startups clicking at their heals, would companies continue to improve on solutions they’ve developed or just stop as they developed the solutions and then just sit back and rake in the profits. Afterall, why continue spending millions in improving on your solutions if no one else is working on a more effective solution. In simple terms, if we’ve created a trap that will catch mice, do we really need a better mousetrap? Maybe not from the practical sense. But what if we could catch a mouse a different way and it’s more cost effective? Or, maybe it has less health risks. Or more humane?