The Reason I Bought A Franchise...Love
Owning a Business is Not For Everyone.
Before getting to the answer, you might want to read last week’s post entitled, “Finding Your Own Path (April 2012)”. It relates a story that changed my world view and set me on my career path as an Entrepreneur.
Here’s the Cliffs Notes version:
1) We make our own choices.
2) There are two fundamental career choices:
Path #1 - Work For Someone Else.
Path #2 - Work for Yourself.
3) My career choice: Path #2.
4) I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life.
5) Underlying Message: A career choice is a personal choice too.
Are we all caught up now? Great.
I do believe business and personal decisions are closely related.
When making a career choice, it’s important to evaluate options from both perspectives (business and personal), and weigh the common factors.
Here are 5 common factors that I use to evaluate options: Time, Money, Viability, Skills, Lifestyle. There are plenty others, these will do for now.
For my latest career decision in 2007, another significant factor presented itself: My New Wife Cynthia.
So why did I purchase a franchise instead of just starting and running a business like I’ve done before?
The answer: Love.
I Love Owning My Own Business
I married Cynthia in 2005 and in early 2006 I was hired as a VP of Product Development for UnitedHealthCare (UHC).
I was responsible for building a new national department to serve UHC’s millions of customers. It was a large, challenging position. I traveled frequently and it was an exhausting but extremely gratifying time for an entrepreneur like me.
A dream job.
On Christmas Eve, 2007 UHC laid me off after I’d spent the previous 2 months laying off my entire new department. I knew it was coming, the economy was crumbling and UHC was entering “Survival Mode”. Survival Mode = Sole focus on core services, don’t invest in anything new.
Bad economy, I’m out of a job.
My career choices: Path #1: Find another Product Development Executive Position or Path #2: Start my own business.
Here’s the thought process evaluating my 2007 career choice.
Path #1: Work for Someone Else
Time: It takes a while to find another executive position, will savings last?
Money: Executive pay is great, in this economy are companies hiring executives?
Viability: If UHC entered survival mode, other companies are too (nothing new built for a while).
Skills: I can run operations but my resume says I build new things. Tough to get hired.
Lifestyle: Executive positions require travel and maybe relocation.
Path #2: Work for Myself
Time: Starting and growing a new business takes time. Can I grow fast enough?
Money: I have some money and I’m blessed to be able to borrow more if needed.
Viability: Most new businesses struggle to make it, what could increase my chances?
Skills: I’m confident I can build a solid company, it’s what I’ve done and can do again.
Lifestyle: Building a local company means more time at home with Cynthia and family.
In light of the failing economy, the conservative, albeit still risky choice for me was to take Path #2: Work for Myself.
How to I reduce the risks involved with starting a business? Consider purchasing a franchise.
Using the same common factors, here’s how a franchise could reduce my risks:
Time: Help with Start Up and Beyond - You get a lot of help starting your business and running it afterwards.
Money: Franchises have higher start up costs but can be immensely profitable. (Think of Macdonalds and Tim Hortons, for instance.)
Viability: Independent businesses stand a 70 to 80 percent chance of NOT surviving the first few critical years while franchisees have an 80 percent chance of surviving.
Skills: A franchise gives you a business blueprint – but it won’t give you customers. I can work ON my business (selling) instead of IN my business (doing the work).
Lifestyle: Starting a business is stressful enough. Franchising can give you a head start. Leveraging a proven business idea focuses your efforts on growth.
So, a bit more up-front costs and ongoing royalties but I’m using a proven system with national support and I have a much better chance of surviving.
From a pure business perspective, my choice is clear: Path #2: Work for Myself and Purchase a Franchise.
I Love My Wife And Family
In 2005, just before I married Cynthia, my Dad passed away from bladder cancer.
Quite a lot happened between then and Christmas 2007 – A wedding, helping my mom through the grieving process, starting and ending an executive dream job, the economy starting to tank and now I’m facing my first career decision as a married guy. The question of finding another executive position and/or starting a business loomed. And now I have a wife to consider too.
To be honest, before marriage, I probably would have trusted my skills (again) and created a business from scratch.
As I considered my 2007 career choice, I looked to my Mom’s & Dad’s great life together (married 45+ years) and how Dad’s company (one he helped build from scratch in the early 70′s) provided financial stability for them, even after his passing.
Cynthia and I met later in life and I haven’t spent 30+ years building a company. I love my wife and I want to take care of her. What would happen if I passed away?
If I take another executive position – there’s my life insurance, but that will only help Cynthia for a couple of years. Then what? If I build a company from scratch, even if she helped build it, could she take over if I’m not there? Possibly, but it depends on the business. These options are not what I wanted for her and us.
If we purchase a franchise and run it together, and then I’m not there, she will still have the franchise systems, support, corporate offices and fellow franchisees to help her. The choice is clear. We bought a franchise because we love each other and want to take care of each other.
Here’s what a franchise provides Cynthia if I’m not in the picture:
Time: She just steps in and runs the business, all systems are already in place.
Money: The money continues and grows as the business grows.
Viability: Cynthia has our employees, the franchise system, HQ and fellow franchisees to help her.
Skills: She’s already running the business with me and understands how to be successful.
Lifestyle: Though different without me, she’ll have financial security to keep going.
I’m not planning on leaving anytime soon, but I can tell you I do sleep better knowing that our choice, Path #2 – Work for Ourselves and Purchase a Franchise, will take care of both of us just fine.
So when a competitor or colleague asks, “why the heck did you buy a franchise when you could have just started a company?”
I smile, look down at my wedding ring and answer…
I bought a franchise because of Love.
Franchisee of South Bay area, Los Angeles
Fish Window Cleaning Services franchise company
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