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Lloyd’s Advice: Do you really want to own your own business?

Portrait of smiling business owner in bicycle shopBy Lloyd Shears
While thinking about a topic for this article, I began to reflect on my experiences with prospective franchisees over the years; specifically, why some people choose not to go into business while others do. I began to recall certain common situations I had witnessed repeatedly over the years.

Entrepreneurially challenged
As you consider becoming a franchisee, it helps to be aware of the things that can get in the way of your success. By recognizing potentially damaging approaches early on, you can take your entrepreneurial ambitions from dreams to reality.

‘Fearful’ franchisees
I am no psychologist, but, in my experience, people tend to be governed by what they believe—and those beliefs are not always based in fact. Many times, clients have come to what I can only refer to as ridiculous conclusions, cemented only in what they believe to be true. Despite all evidence to the contrary, their opinions could not be swayed. A friend of mine refers to this as ‘false evidence appearing real’ (FEAR).

For example, I met with one father and son team more than a decade ago to discuss their franchise options. The meeting went extremely well; I liked them both and could see them being successful. Their skills complemented each other perfectly (the father was an experienced lawyer, while his son had strong business ambitions). We identified a number of strong franchise business options for them, and I was feeling great about what we accomplished.

As we were concluding the meeting and discussing their next steps, including how to conduct research, the son insisted that before he could do anything, he needed to take a bookkeeping course. Surprised, I began to point out to him that there were people in the business of bookkeeping, one of whom he could easily hire to handle those duties. Bookkeeping skills would be a plus, but not a necessity. As his father pointed out, you don’t need to be a mechanic to be able to drive a car. We tried to assure the son that part of being an entrepreneur is knowing when to hire the skill sets you need, while you concentrate on running the business. However, the son was convinced the bookkeeping classes were absolutely necessary.

Despite a few more conversations, things never progressed. A year later, the father called to thank me for my time, noting his son was now looking for ‘the right bookkeeping course.’ While it remained unspoken, we both knew his son was an unlikely franchise candidate. Had he heeded our advice, however, things may have ended differently. This is something to keep in mind as you consider investing in a franchise.

‘Hobby’ entrepreneurs
Most people, at some point in their lives, give thought to owning a business. For some, it’s nothing more than a passing fancy, a ‘what if’ scenario they enjoy entertaining. As a franchise consultant, I regularly meet people for whom looking for a business has become a hobby. They answer ads, talk to people, attend trade shows and become quite involved in the process, but never actually invest.

The fact is, if you have been looking for a franchise for 10 years, you will most likely still be looking 10 years from now. Sometimes, it can be difficult to recognize this pattern; many people in these scenarios are convinced they are simply being methodical, taking the necessary steps to go into business. However, after a certain amount of inaction, it is worthwhile to reconsider whether you are truly serious about becoming a franchisee or if you just like the idea of buying a franchise.

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