Terre Gorham 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Mathis Young (right) came to William Adler, career transition coach with The Entrepreneur's Source, in early 2008. Though Young enjoyed his banking career, he wanted his own business. After a series of analytical tests and conversations, Young decided that franchise ownership best suited his wants and needs. After studying several business options presented by Adler, Young chose Aussie Pet Mobile, which provides a 15-step mobile grooming spa treatment for dogs and cats. Currently, Young has two mobile units, three employees, and plans to continue to grow. So you've decided to chart your career destiny Frank Sinatra–style. You think you've got enough capital to hang on until you can turn a profit; you think you've got the experience and drive; and you think you've got the nerve. Now what? Your sources are many. One of your first critical decisions is how to go into business for yourself. Do you want to buy an existing business, start a brand-new endeavor, or buy into a franchise? One of your first stops may be to an enterprise specialist at the Business Enterprise Resource Office (BERO), a state agency that provides free, one-on-one technical and financial assistance to would-be entrepreneurs and existing small businesses. "People need to make an assessment," says Sharon Taylor McKinney, a BERO enterprise specialist for the West Tennessee Region. "Just as you would do a SWOT analysis for marketing — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — you need to do a personal SWOT and assess your goals, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. You need to look at what you're willing to do, what you love to do, and what you'd be willing to stick with if it took three or four years to start making the income you want." Mathis Young (right) came to William Adler, career transition coach with The Entrepreneur's Source, in early 2008. Though Young enjoyed his banking career, he wanted his own business. After a series of analytical tests and conversations, Young decided that franchise ownership best suited his wants and needs. After studying several business options presented by Adler, Young chose Aussie Pet Mobile, which provides a 15-step mobile grooming spa treatment for dogs and cats. Currently, Young has two mobile units, three employees, and plans to continue to grow. So you've decided to chart your career destiny Frank Sinatra–style. Now what? A booklet published by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will be one of the first things McKinney hands you. Tennessee Smart Start is a handy tool that explores entrepreneurial topics such as selecting a business, setting it up, copyrights, taxes and insurance, business plans, funding sources, training needs, and resource maps. "Our role is to provide counseling and help people make the connections to the managerial, educational, financial, and technical assistance they need," says McKinney. "Small business is critical for Memphis, the state, and the nation. Keeping more business in the state is what it's all about. It's also all about your money, your happiness, and your future. As with making many major decisions, you may want to pull out a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle, and start listing the pros and cons of the choices available. TAKING OVER Purchasing an existing business can save you some time and trouble. In general, you're buying the owner's assets, not assuming any liabilities (unless you specifically agree to it), and applying for a new business license that makes someone else's business "yours." Start-up costs are typically minimal, your customer base is probably set, vendor relationships are already established, and there's financial history to help in your decisions. Also, you'll already have a good feel for the company's reputation in the community — what strengths can you capitalize on and what weaknesses can you improve? The down side? Mainly, any hidden surprises that you and your team of professionals failed to uncover during the research phase, such as poor vendor/customer relations, unforeseen maintenance or upgrade costs, or an incomplete financial snapshot. STARTING ANEW Ah, you get to build your business from scratch, served just the way you want it! Will you be working full time or part time? Inside a brickand- mortar or your bedroom? Will you be a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation? Will you hire employees or fly solo? So many choices and options await your clean slate! Your potential looms large, and the excitement of learning new things in an area you love is a heady, rewarding feeling. A carefully crafted business plan helps lead you into a brand-new work world, where every decision is yours to make behind a CEO desk that reads, "The buck stops here." Which is exactly what you might find also listed on the con side of your spreadsheet. You are responsible for building a new enterprise and discovering all the legal requirements, pitfalls, and solutions. Oh, you'll have a team of professionals helping you watch your back — accountant, lawyer, insurance agent, to name a few — but just remember to factor in those expenses. As a business owner, you'll likely draft a lot of Plan B's — and C's and D's. Setbacks and unforeseen stumbling blocks are a common part of building from the ground up — even in home-based businesses — so a flexible, positive, loveschallenges attitude is a must. And starting a new business generally takes an enormous amount of time and energy. There can be a lot of stress and overload at times, sprinkled generously with multiple fear factors. Is your family prepared for that? Are your finances? You? FRANCHISE IT! Buying a franchise as a means of becoming a business owner doesn't typically register on the first sweep of the entrepreneurial radar. But franchises are often a good fit for a new business owner — and franchises come in all sizes and flavors. "One of the biggest pros to becoming a franchise owner is that you are in business for yourself but not by yourself," says William Adler, career transition coach for The Entrepreneur's Source, which helps would-be business owners determine their best entrepreneurial fit. "A franchise has systems in place that allow you to focus on your strengths while they help you on your weaknesses." Another pro is that franchises offer a package of assistance, marketing data, and proven products and services. For the most part, you are buying into something that has an established track record, and you'll already know it should work. This lessens the risk factor and gives you the benefit of a large corporate support staff at minimum cost. Franchises are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and each franchise — by law — has a Franchise Disclosure Document that provides enough information for you and your professional team to start due diligence so you can make an informed decision. It includes information such as the history of the franchise, licensing arrangements, franchise territories, franchisee financial performance representations, franchisor's corporate financial statements, and much more. The license agreement you sign gives you the right to sell the franchisor's products or services and explains the specific conditions of the relationship between the franchisor and franchisee. And all franchises are not created equal. "There are parameters to follow because the franchisor wants to protect its brand, but those parameters vary from franchise to franchise," says Adler. "They certainly want you to bring your skills and personality to the business to help it grow, but there are many different ways they'll allow you to do that. In the end, however, the franchisor wants you to succeed every bit as much as you do." In a way, you're shopping for and choosing who your parent company will be. And just like parents, some are strict and others aren't. "If you like structure and systems that are already in place, franchising might be a good fit," says McKinney. "Some franchises require that you follow the system to the letter; some are a little more flexible. But generally, once a franchise has a proven system down, they're going to want you to follow it." As the franchisee, you'll pay an up-front fee plus periodic franchise fees for the support you receive. Some franchises will require you to buy inventory exclusively from approved vendors or the corporate office, while a few may enforce minimums in sales or profitability. Generally, however, there is ample wiggle room. So do you prefer owning a business with guidelines, support, and a proven success rate, or does following someone else's system drive you crazy? WHO'S THE BOSS? In the end, a successful endeavor hinges on research, research, research interspersed with analysis, analysis, analysis. You can't have too Much of either, especially during the initial phase of determining which avenues you need to cruise down. That includes determining what style of boss — and business — suits your nature, and that's where a career transition coach such as Adler can help. "I ask questions and prepare them for what they're thinking about doing," says Adler, who bought The Entrepreneur's Source franchise in 2007. "My job is to make sure they are as knowledgeable and as prepared as possible when they get started." That preparedness means a hard look at capital and the costs that will be incurred before the doors even open, as well as issues related to taxes, training, and sheer stamina. But first and foremost, Adler takes his clients — who pay nothing for his services — through an "inside-out process" that helps them analyze whether they're even suited to own a business. "First, we focus on their goals — income, lifestyle, wealth and equity, and future," says Adler. "What are your job skills? What do you need now and what do you want in the future? What, exactly, do you want to accomplish?" Then the client takes a DISC survey, which reveals strengths and weaknesses based on personality. Dominance measures how you respond to problems and challenges. Influence explores how you influence others to your point of view. Steadiness looks at how you respond to the pace of the environment, and Compliance uncovers how you respond to rules and procedures. "The process helps us determine whether you would be a good business owner," says Adler. "There are a lot of fear factors to doing something like this, and some people just can't overcome them. For those people, I don't have to tell them, but I help them figure it out. For others, becoming a business owner is just a perfect fit. Once we determine that and what type of business best suits your temperament and skill set, we start looking at specific possibilities — and the possibilities are endless."
Published by Downtowner Magazine. View All Articles.
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