by Simon Lord
last updated 30/03/2023
Refresh, Revive, Renew
by Simon Lord
last updated 30/03/2023
Want to choose where you work, when you work and who you work with? Buying a franchise allows you to make a new start in your own business
The start of a new year is always a good time to examine your life and decide what direction you want to go in next. What’s really important to you, and how are you going to make your life better?
So if you’re frustrated with your current job, looking to improve your net worth or feel that there might be more to life, buying a franchise can provide excitement, adventure, opportunity and financial security.
A franchise can give you less time on the road, more time with your loved ones, more flexibility over where and when you work, more control over your life. It will probably also give you greater challenges than you’ve ever faced before and involve a lot of hard work. If you’re prepared for that, now could be a good time to consider making a fresh start.
What skills do you need?
If you’re considering buying a franchise, be aware that although it’s important to be passionate about what you do, you don’t necessarily have to have direct experience of the business – in fact, some franchisors may prefer that you don’t arrive with a career-full of preconceived ideas. A good franchise will provide you with everything you need to succeed and train you in how to operate the business in the most efficient and profitable way possible.
And it can be hugely successful – just look at the franchisees who won titles in the Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards this year. Krista Coningham moved from financial management to appearance medicine; Adrian Kay from IT to kitchen renovation; Gary Camoin from retail management to commercial cleaning; Ben Coates from dairy farming to lawnmowing.
Age doesn’t matter, either, with franchising enabling you to start young like Jesse Guscott, to join forces with the next generation like Alison and Chelsea England, or to plan a semi-passive income like Andrew Cutfield.
Of course, you do need the right skills and attributes for the type of franchise you choose. Sales and marketing experience is always valuable, but so are other backgrounds: for example, policemen often do well in the hospitality industry because they are used to dealing with people and taking control – it’s obvious when you think about it. But they might not fare so well in a less sociable business that would suit others down to the ground. So consider your strengths, weaknesses and interests. What skills do you have, and are they transferable to a new career? For example, are you good with your hands? Are you good with people? Are you good with kids? Are you good at following systems?
Are you a team player or an individual? Do you want to do everything for yourself, or lead a team of others? Apart from your own experience and knowledge of yourself, you might talk to others who know you well.
Speak to self-employed friends about the reality of working for yourself, and decide whether it is for you. Only after you have gone through all these steps will you be in a good position to consider any specific opportunities.
The support of a team
One of the biggest advantages that franchising can offer you is that not only do you have a franchisor and professional mentors to help and guide you, but you’re also surrounded by other people – your fellow franchisees – who face exactly the same challenges as you and are happy to share ideas and solutions.
As well as fellow franchisees, the franchisor and their field support team, it also means close friends or family members need to be supportive. Research a few years ago by the Franchise Relationships Institute found that good family and social support was by far the most powerful predictor of franchisee success. In other words, if you’re buying a franchise, it’s vital that your family understands what is involved and is right behind you.
By the way, when you’re investigating a franchise, the existing franchisees are good people to talk to – after all, they’re already living the life you are considering. Read about the questions you should ask them here.
What do you want from life?
Working with family is a common reason for starting or buying a business, but a desire to have more time for your family is more common still. A recent survey of prospective franchise buyers in New Zealand found that 40 percent are seeking a better life balance second only to wealth-building. Other common reasons are about people, not profits. They include: ‘achieve a personal challenge’, ‘have greater control on how I do things’; ‘build something to pass on to children’; and ‘greater flexibility’.
Don't think that owning your own business is going to give you all those benefits right from the start, though: at first, you’ll find the ‘personal challenge’ aspect is by far the major part of your life. The good news is that with the right franchise you’ll get the planning tools and support you need to make your personal goals achievable. So before you start trying to find the perfect business, you need to work out what you really want from it. Ask yourself:
- Where do you want to live?
- Do you want to work fixed hours or be flexible?
- What time of day best suits you?
- Who do you want to work with?
- What sort of work do you want to do?
- How much do you want to earn?
You also need to consider any genuine constraints that might stop you reaching your goals immediately. What’s realistic right now? Can you work out some short-term and medium-term steps that will take you closer to your long-term goal? For example, you might read up on franchising, learn bookkeeping or improve your computer skills. Or you might look at a part-time or low-investment franchise now that will help you build capital towards the business you really want in a few years’ time.
What do you want from a business?
In order to find an opportunity that suits both your personal and your financial goals, it’s a good idea to sit down and work out exactly what you are looking for in a business.
Making a checklist is a great way to ensure you don’t get involved in an unsuitable business because you overlooked something or got carried away by enthusiasm. You’ll need to enjoy your business – even have passion for it – if you’re to get the best from it. Ticking the boxes won’t replace passion, but if you choose a business that fits your needs and abilities, it can help ensure that your passion creates the results you want.
Be prepared to seize the moment
As well as knowing what you’re looking for, you also need to prepare yourself so that you’re in a position to take action when you find what you want.
If you have the freedom to move and are flexible about where you go, it means you’ll have a lot more opportunities to choose from. Franchisors might have good new sites available in certain key areas, with customers ready and waiting. Equally, existing businesses come up for sale in all parts of the country. Operating outside the big cities can mean lower costs but not necessarily lower profits.
One of the stories we often hear from new franchisees is, ‘We bought the business just before or after our first baby was born – good timing, eh?’ Well, in many ways that is good timing, especially if you have family support to look after the baby or work in the business. The flexibility to work on accounts, rosters or sales at home can be a real boon for new parents. People can cope with incredible change and adrenaline will take you a long way for a while. It’s important, though, that the changes you make are in-line with your long-term goals, or when the adrenaline starts to wear off you may be disappointed.
Actually, if you choose carefully then owning a business can offer ongoing benefits when raising a family – especially if you work from home. Having flexibility allows you to juggle commitments and makes childcare easier – you can be there for school holidays or teacher-only days with less hassle, as well as being involved as a parent helper on outings or sports days. You still have to make times to focus on your business commitments, of course, but many people make it work.
The other thing to bear in mind is that if you really, really want to own your own business, there’s very rarely the perfect time to do it. If you wait for all the circumstances to be right, you might never make the change. Do you want to spend the rest of your life wondering?
Feel the fear and do it anyway
Over the years, we’ve talked to thousands of franchisees, and almost all of them have admitted to being quite scared when they took that first leap into self-employment. As one franchisor told us many years ago, ‘When you work for someone else, you have set limits within which you can operate, and people with whom you can consult. But when you operate your own business, the buck really does stop with you. Every decision, whether large or small, has to be made by you. Every purchase you make is spending your money. Every contact you make with a client affects your income. Some people thrive on that – others freeze.
‘But buying a franchise bridges the gap between employment and total independence. You have the guidance and the training which helps reassure you that you really do need to spend money on this or that, and you also have a peer group of other franchisees to talk to and share experiences with – quite apart from the franchisor.
‘And once you’ve made the decision and get busy creating and growing the business, the fear becomes part of the excitement.’
If your current job isn’t satisfying you, perhaps it’s time to REFRESH – REVIVE – RENEW. Buying a franchise can help you do all that – but you need to be clear on your goals, put time into researching the right franchise for you, and be prepared to seize the opportunity when the time comes.
So as you sit by the beach this summer, think about what you really want for your future. 2023 could be the year when you start to create the life you want.
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