Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw
As a franchise consultant, one of the top questions I get from aspiring entrepreneurs is, “Can I do this?” If you’ve never owned a business before and are contemplating making the jump, you’re going to go through a roller coaster of emotions. Doing something new always has an element of fear and excitement along with that whiff of potential future success. You may have already had some uneasy thoughts or sleepless nights mulling over the question, “What if it doesn’t work out and I fail?”
The very fact that you are here right now shows that you are the embodiment of all of your ancestors’ luck and good choices. So as you think about owning a franchise or going into business for yourself, I say congratulations! You have quite a history of surviving! Think about how lucky you are — the statistical improbability that is life. We have made it across the millennia to the point in time that you are alive today and contemplating ownership of a business. Think of the animals that our forebears outran so they would not be eaten. Think of the plagues they lived through, of the wars they did not die in. To be here right now is really a pretty marvelous achievement.
Like any of life’s big decisions, if you make a choice that impacts your future, you want to make sure that you’re well equipped with the tools and knowledge to make the decision for yourself. Daniel Isenberg writes in the Harvard Business Review of a few questions to gauge if being an entrepreneur is a feasible option for you. As you are reading these, be introspective and think about times in your life where you had situations that are similar to these questions. Answer them honestly with a yes or a no.
- I don’t like being told what to do by people who are ‘less capable’ than I am.
- I like challenging myself.
- I like to win.
- I like being my own boss.
- I always look for new and better ways to do things.
- I like to question conventional wisdom.
- I like to get people together in order to get things done.
- People get excited by my ideas.
- I am rarely satisfied or complacent.
- I can’t sit still.
- I can usually work my way out of a difficult situation.
- I would rather fail at my own thing than succeed at someone else’s.
- Whenever there is a problem, I am ready to jump right in.
- I think old dogs can learn — even invent — new tricks.
- Members of my family run their own businesses.
- I have friends who run their own businesses.
- I worked after school and during vacations when I was growing up.
- I get an adrenaline rush from selling things.
- I am exhilarated by achieving results.
- I could have written a better test than this (and here is what I would change ….)
If you find that some of these situations make you uncomfortable, the next question to ask is “Can you put a team together to cover your weaknesses?” Oftentimes, this is where a franchise comes into the picture. I have found that franchising is a marvelous option for those who want to outsource some of the components of running a business to a team who has a vested interest in their success (think a percentage of royalty payments). When your business grows, they make more money. If your business is suffering, they want to figure out what to do to fix it. In essence, that is why franchising has been called the best business idea ever invented.
However, franchising is not for everyone. Along with the “back office support” of the franchisor come significant restrictions and guidelines that must be followed. Think of how a McDonald’s is the same in Anchorage, Alaska and in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The strength of the system is in its standardization. For some entrepreneurs, that standardization is stifling, while for others, it is supportive. There is no right or wrong answer — you have to figure out what is most important to you and then how to achieve it!
Remember, to be reading this today, you had to have come from thousands of generations of achievers. Why should your life be any different?
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney