Joining a franchise can be a great way to become a business owner as, among other things, it offers a proven business model, support to get you up and running and the reassurance of knowing that although you are in control of what you do, you are not on your own. The franchise model is only the start though. While it may provide the foundations for a great business, it need what YOU bring to it before it can grow and develop into something really special.
If you are thinking about taking on a franchise then, you may be wondering if you have what it takes to make a success of running your very own business. It may not always be easy, and every franchise offers something a little different, but whatever business you are thinking of undertaking following the steps below will help you build on those foundations to make your business into the fantastic success that is absolutely possible for you to achieve!
Step 1 – Know Your Why
Running a business is a big commitment and will definitely have its ups and downs, so before you decide to go ahead you need to really know why you want to do it in the first place. It may help to ask yourself some of these questions;
- Why are you looking for a change from your current situation?
- What would happen if you stayed doing what you are doing?
- How would this effect you and the people around you?
- Do you feel you NEED to make a change in your life, or do you just like the sound of something new?
- Why is it important to make this change now?
When you have a really strong WHY you will do what it takes to make your business work. If you don’t have that reason to keep going no matter what, it is easy to give up at the first hurdle.
Step 2 – Understand What Success Means For You
Having a successful business means different things to different people. Your idea of success may be around how much money the business brings in each month, it may mean being able to spend your time doing something you enjoy, it may be earning a certain amount in as little time as possible so that you can spend more time with your family or something else entirely!
If you don’t know what success means for you then how will you know when you have achieved it, or even if you are heading in the right direction? And if you are working towards someone else’s definition of success it can be hard to stay motivated! When you really understand what success means for you, you can make a plan that moves you towards it, and start identifying opportunities that support you in achieving those goals.
Step 3 – Work with Your Skills and Strengths
Before starting any business you should have a good understanding of what is expected of you and what is involved in running the business on a day to day basis. Think about all the tasks involved, what skills are needed to complete them and how you can make the most of your existing skills and experience to run, grow and develop your business?
This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to have experience in the industry you are going into, but your skills and what you are interested in should be a good match for what is required. If, for example, the business involves going out and talking to people all day, and you find this difficult, or you would be mostly working at home on your laptop and you like to be out meeting people, then however great the business it might not be a good fit for you. If, however, you can utilise what you already know, are great at and love doing in your new business it will be far easier to make it a success.
Step 4 – Love your Product or Service and Understand How Your Customers Benefit From It
If you don’t truly love and believe in the product or service your business provides then you will have a really hard time convincing other people to love it and buy from you! When you are excited by what your business offers you will naturally want to share it with others and start to be the “word of mouth” that gets your product or service noticed.
It’s not enough just to love it though, you must also know how what you offer will be of benefit to your customers. What is the problem that they are seeking to solve, or the future experience they are hoping to get from buying from you?
When you know this it is much easier to know where to look to find those people that your business can serve best and understand how to speak to them, either in person or through your marketing messages, in a way that will have them clamouring for your product or service.
Step 5 – Understand Your Numbers
There will be an investment when starting any business, but as well as those initial costs make sure you are clear about all the ongoing costs that will be associated with your business too.
It is easy to feel that your business is doing well if you are making lots of sales, but you will only be able to remain in business if there is money left over, ie a profit, after you have accounted for all your expenses and costs, so you need to make sure you track these figures closely.
For a start, do you know how much you want or need to earn through your business? Once you work this out then you can break it down to what this actually means day to day, week to week or month to month by asking yourself questions such as;
- How many customers do I need this month to achieve my goal?
- How much on average does each one need to spend with me?
- What are the actions I need to take to make this happen?
- How many hours do I need to work per week to achieve this?
How do the answers fit with the overall goals you have and your idea of what success looks like for you?
With any business it will take time for you to get established and build your sales, so it is unlikely that you will achieve what your business is capable of straight away, but focusing on some of the key numbers that relate to your business will help keep you on track to achieve those goals in the shortest time possible.
Step 6 – Be Willing to Learn
Even if you have experience in the industry of the business you are starting there will still be lots for you to learn when you are starting out. Each franchise will have its own rules and responsibilities, so make sure you know what is expected of you and what you can expect from your franchisor.
As well as initial training on the technical aspects of your product or service, you should also expect information on how to run the business day to day and how to find customers for your product or service. One of the benefits of joining a franchise is that, on top of the basic training, you can learn from the experience of the both the franchisor and the other franchisees within your company, who have already been where you are and have done what you are aiming to do. By asking questions and following their advice and suggestions you can focus on doing what has been proven to work and not waste time trying to figure this out for yourself.
Even if you have been running the business for a while, the world is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn. So always seek to keep learning to make sure your business is the best it can be and giving you the best results!
Step 7 – Have Great Systems
To make sure that you are in control of running your business, rather than it running you, you need to have great systems in place.
Having systems and processes for the different elements of your business will make it much easier to complete everything that needs to be done efficiently and effectively and keep your business growing and thriving. These could be as simple as having email templates for commonly asked questions from customers, a check list for what needs to happen when you get a new enquiry, or a set time to do your accounts each week.
Examine each part of your business and consider how to set up a system to make it easier or ensure all tasks are completed. The more systems you have in place the less likely things that need to get done, or will benefit your business, get forgotten or missed, and the more time you will have to do all the other things you enjoy (or don’t enjoy but need to do anyway!) in your life.
Step 8 – Show Your Family How they Can Support You
Running your own business can be challenging at times, and on those days that you are doubting yourself and wondering if starting your business was the right decision, the support of your family and friends is invaluable. Knowing that they believe in you makes it much easier to keep believing in yourself, and keep moving your business forward.
Share with them your WHY and your definition of success so that they can understand the bigger picture when you need to work on your business, even when you are at home and they are expecting your attention, and so that they can remind you of those bigger goals, and get you back on track to striving for them, on days when you feel like giving up.
Your friends and family will also be the ones you want to celebrate your successes with, so help them understand what you do and the important role they play within it and enjoy celebrating together at each stage of your journey.
Step 9 – Keep Moving Forward
The most important thing to remember in order for your business to thrive is to keep taking action. Even if you are not sure of the best action to take at a particular time taking some sort of action, reviewing where you are, and then amending your course as necessary, is far better than staying stuck.
You are never on your own in a franchise so if you are feeling that you don’t know what to do next, pick up the phone and talk to someone about it and maybe get some new ideas or just the reassurance that someone else has been there too. Sometime you just need to take a break from what you are doing, go for a walk, or do something fun to clear your head and get a new perspective. Then come back and do one thing to move your business forward. Even if the path has some twists and turns, each small step you take will bring you closer to your goal, but only if you keep taking them.
Step 10 – Be Consistent and Don’t Give Up!
There is no magic pill (that I’ve found!) to building a successful business. It takes time, effort and perseverance on an ongoing basis, as well as some basic organisational skills. It does get easier with time, but the saying that you get out of something what you put in to it is absolutely true.
The only time you fail in business is when you give up. Being consistent in the action that you take and the commitment you have to your business, and will bring results, even if they take longer than you might like!
When you do have goals you are working towards, and especially when you are just starting your business, it is easy to focus on how far you still have to go rather than the progress you have already made. To keep yourself motivated and able to keep pushing for those bigger goals make sure you take time to recognise how far you have come and reward yourself on a regular basis (even in a small way) for what you have achieved.
Focus on what you enjoy about the business, take one step at a time and ask for help when you need it and you will be well on the way to having the business and lifestyle of your dreams!
These tips were brought to you by Helen Gillies, founder of the Tots Play, Baby and Toddler Play Programme. To find out more simply visit the Franchise Opportunity page of our website www.totsplay.co.uk.
Photo credit : Steve Wilson