I’ve spoken to a lot of people in a lot of different environments about running their own business through a Franchise. I’ve spoken at packed out exhibitions, I’ve spoken in individual Discovery Days, I’ve even spoken with people about it on petrol station forecourts when someone asked me about the livery on my vehicle.
Last week though, I faced my toughest crowd yet. As I paced up and down the corridor outside the room I was to be speaking in, I reviewed my notes and checked my phone was on silent. I was nervous, for on the other side of the door, were thirty Year Six students…
I had been lucky enough to be invited in by Perry Hall Multi Academy Trust, to speak at their Careers Week. This was a fantastic initiative by the flagship school of The Trust, who sought to demystify the adult world of work, by inviting in local people from the kids’ communities to explain what it is they do.
Like many things that are in the future, this had seemed a great idea when I initially accepted the invitation. Now though, as I peered through the window into the class, I watched two paramedics finishing up their session by telling the class how fast an ambulance can travel and I began to have doubts. Questions flew through my mind such as “why would the children be interested in franchising?”, “what if they’re all bored to death by my session?” and “how on earth do I compete with paramedics and an ambulance?”
I needn’t have worried. What followed over the course of the afternoon with various classes across the school, was some of the most frank, direct and intelligent discussions around franchising I’ve ever had. They just got it, it was incredible.
Perhaps what impressed me the most, was how it wasn’t all about the money. Of course there were questions around what a Franchise Business Owner can earn, (it depends on a thousand different factors including the franchise model, the marketing investment you have behind you and your own drive to make it a success), but the children I met had a far more holistic approach to evaluating their future careers than just what money could be earned.
They wanted to know what it is a Franchisee has to do all day and were fascinated by the different hats business owners have to wear on a daily basis. Some students were attracted to the prestige of being the boss, others thought taking ownership of every problem the business encountered could be quite stressful.
Time to dedicate to hobbies and friends was an important consideration too, the classes I met were keen to establish whether as a Franchise Owner there would be time for Fortnite, Minecraft, reading books or playing with friends. Placing daily importance on the little things in life that make you happy didn’t sound childish to me at all, it sounded seriously sensible.
“What qualifications do you need?” was an interesting one too. A lot of careers have transparent, academic hurdles in place that providing you clear, you’re in. I tried to explain running your own business doesn’t really work like that. There’s a lot of seriously successful entrepreneurs out there who didn’t get the best grades when they were younger or that found it hard to concentrate in school. However, that’s not to say academic environments can’t play a huge part in preparing somebody for running their own business.
Skills learned in the classroom, such as communicating eloquently and with passion can really help sell a product or service. Maths underpins a lot of what makes a business successful, whether this is in establishing and measuring Operational Key Performance Indicators or underpinning the finance functions of a business. Practical hands-on subjects like textiles, woodwork or art can tell a person a lot about what they enjoy and what they don’t.
Although I was supposed to go into Perry Hall Multi Academy Trust and teach the children, in reality I probably learned a lot more from them than they did from me. I learned that whilst we need money to live the lifestyles we want to, it isn’t everything. We also need time to play Minecraft, or to spend with friends and family. Some of us enjoy a lot of responsibility and thrive in high pressure environments, some of us don’t though and that’s just fine.
My advice to anyone considering investing in a Franchise, is during your due diligence, act like a ten-year-old. Work out what finances you need to live off and ask the Franchisor about monetary returns, it’s important after all, but don’t stop there. Once you’ve established the earnings are what you need live the life you want to, take the time to understand what activities will dominate the day in the Franchise you’re interested in, is it a sales-driven business, marketing, service based? Think about what you enjoy doing, it’s not childish to prioritise having fun! Finally, think about whether the challenge and pressure of running your own business excites you, or terrifies you.
Once you have all this information sit down and make a fully informed decision, taking into account what your whole life would look like as a Franchisee of your chosen network, not just how it would affect your bank balance. Still not sure whether to go ahead after all of that? Why not consider what advice ten-year-old you would give the adult version on whether to go ahead or not?