Exploring Business Ownership – Maybe You’re a High Rolling Entrepreneur – Part 6 of 7

We’re wrapping up a series on evaluating whether the concept of business ownership is right for you. Most recently we’ve discussed how to assess your risk tolerance by analyzing the way you think. We’ve covered the 3 main ways to earn income, outlined the risks associated with employment and franchise ownership, and how each personality type typically thinks. If you didn’t identify with either of those, then maybe you’re an entrepreneur at heart.

Entrepreneurial Business Ownership

Entrepreneur think is:

How can I meet the needs of my customers by profitably solving the problems they have?

If you want to chart your own course, solve all your own problems, be captain of your own ship, be totally responsible for whatever success or failure comes, and chafe at the thought of working for someone else in return for less risk, then you probably have the entrepreneurial bug.

Risk Assessment

Being an independent business owner is a high risk proposition with a high probability of first time failure.

Why high risk? Because you will most likely pledge every asset, such as home equity, savings, 401(k), etc., that you have to finance startup or purchase of the business. If your venture fails, you may very well lose everything you’ve spent or offered as collateral. (This is also true for franchise owners.)

Why a high probability for failure? Because first time entrepreneurs have such a clear vision of what they want to do and how to do it; they think they know everything! I have several colleagues who generally refuse to work with first time entrepreneurs because (in their words) “they think they know more than I do and helpful suggestions that I make are either ignored or become implementation battles.” Truer words were never spoken.

If your risk temperament is right in line with the type of person I’m describing and you want to go forward, then how can you improve your chances of success? Buck the trend by getting lots of experienced advice and counsel from those who have gone before! Be willing to listen to those who have graduated from the school of hard knocks and learn from their mistakes to avoid making them all again yourself, because you simply don’t have either the time or the money to survive the experience of learning it all firsthand.

We’ll wrap up this series in part 7 by outlining why businesses generally succeed or fail, and I’ll suggest some more reading resources and offer some advice on how to navigate a path to success.

Exploring Business Ownership – Franchises, a Controlled Way to Own a Business (Part 5 of 7)

In part 4 we began a discussion on how to assess your risk tolerance for business ownership by analyzing the way you think. I covered the 3 main ways to earn income, outlined the risks associated with employment, and how employees typically think. If you didn’t identify with “employee think” then maybe you’ll identify with franchise ownership.

Franchise Ownership

Franchise owner think is:

I can run the systems, methods, and procedures that are already defined and documented. If you’ll show me how, I can pull the right levers and push the right buttons to make the business work.

If you’ve had middle management experience or if you’re a “systems” kind of person, if you like a broader scope of responsibility while staying within certain rules, if you can solve big picture problems but enjoy support when you’re having a tough go of it, if you want more personal freedom than being trapped 9 to 5 in an office cube, and if you want to build equity in a business investment that you can eventually sell, then owning a franchised business model is worth looking into.

Most people think of restaurants when they think of the franchise industry. However, there are literally thousands of franchised business models available in the US in at least 50 different industries, although in my opinion probably only a few hundred are truly robust or mature enough to consider investing in.

When you buy into a franchised business model you license the right to operate a business, usually within a prescribed territory, using the franchise brand name and their products, services, and methods of operation. You basically operate a “clone” of what other franchisees are operating.

Presumably the products and services have been tested and perfected, target markets have already been defined, marketing campaigns have been developed, store designs have been created, and the necessary equipment has been specified. You essentially operate the business model in accordance with the methods and procedures prescribed by the franchisor. Some feel that it’s a controlled way of getting your feet wet in the business ownership world.

Risk Assessment

In my opinion investing in and operating a franchise is more risky than employment, but has less risk than an unsupported entrepreneur-owned business. The franchisor has a vested interest in helping you succeed in their business model because they get a royalty cut of your sales income stream.

However, it is certainly possible to fail in business owning a franchised business model. If you don’t follow their system, if you refuse to market your business, if their business model, product, or service simply doesn’t meet the needs of the market place, or for any of a number of other reasons, then you can loose your entire investment (just like entrepreneurial business ownership).

If your risk temperament seems to be right for the franchise area, then I highly recommend retaining an independent outside advisor to guide you through your initial investigation and evaluation of the thousands of concepts available. Like independent fee-for-service financial advisors, getting professional counsel to help you navigate through this area will be money well spent.

Did you identify with “franchise owner think?” If not, stay tuned. In part 6 we’ll explore how entrepreneurial business owners think.

Balancing Business Ownership

I am a Spiritual Life Coach and have my own coaching and training business. I was part of a Woman-Owned Business Networking Class last year at the local community college and was invited to the class this year to be a guest speaker. The college asked me to speak on “Balancing Business Ownership.”

I was very pleased to be asked to speak, because I love to talk about the importance of balance in our lives. However, there were so many things I wanted to share with the class and I only had about thirty minutes for the presentation.

So in preparation for the talk, I did what I always do when I need my thoughts to flow – I got quiet and still and listened to the voice within. I then went and exercised at the gym and only then did I sit down to write.

The following are the key principles that began to flow and what I shared with the class that night. They have served me well in all areas of my life, but are especially important and critical as you attempt to manage your own business. I trust that they may be useful on your journey.

1. Remember Your “Why”

It is so easy to forget our “why” when we are so busy with the “how” of the business. Your “why” is the reason you got into the business in the first place. Your “why” is your purpose, destiny, calling and cause. It is what excites and motivates you. It is what brings light and joy to your life.

In business ownership, however, you may not have others around you, like a boss, to remind you of the why of the business. So you have to continually remind yourself. You have to continually share and speak your “why” to others. Each time you share your why, it becomes more of a part of you and your consciousness.

In the weekly meetings at the community college, each business owner had to introduce themselves and their business. At times, this exercise seemed so repetitive and unnecessary. Why did we have to do this every time we met? But what happened over the course of our meeting together was that each business owner learned how to refine their message so that the essence and soul of their business was revealed. Having to share who we were each week helped us to really become our “why.”

In addition to being able to powerfully speak your “why”, you want to ensure that your “why” is on paper and is visible. This is especially true when things are tough and not flowing the way you expected. Post your why in as many places as necessary. Post it so you can see if often. They say that “seeing is believing”, so make sure you see yours daily.

In almost every business you enter today, you will see a vision and mission statement. If someone comes into your business, will they see your “why”?

Remembering your “why” and sharing your “why” may be one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your business.

A wonderful resource if you are reflecting on or want to refine your cause, calling and destiny is the book – Inspire by Lance Secretan.

2. Staying focused but yet having fun in the process

I am one of those people who initially resisted putting together a business plan. Okay, I admit it; I love spontaneity and am a free thinker. I thought a plan would box me in and limit me. In fact, it is just the opposite. A plan gives you a road map and a compass. A plan helps you know that you are moving in the direction you want to go.

I put the concept of a business plan in this section because having a business plan allows me to have fun in the process of business ownership. I can have more fun because I have a focus.

I can have fun because I am continually planning and revising my plan. Having even a basic plan supports me from getting overwhelmed and over my head.

And speaking of “head”, I have to add a comment here about “staying out of our heads.” Staying out of our head is about not second guessing ourselves. It is about not worrying about last week, the last customer or the last mistake. Staying out of our heads is about staying focused on the good things we are doing. Trust me, there are so many more good things that you are doing in the business than bad.

To support us in staying out of our heads, you must guard who we let into our “heads.” Be sure to surround yourself with positive, caring individuals who also believe in your dream and “why”. It takes so much energy to try to convince others of why you are following your dream. You expend so much energy and they still don’t get it. Keep this simple – find a circle of supporters that believe in you and will be there to remind you of how great you are.

These are the things that will help you stay focused and, most importantly, have fun in the process. If you find, that over an extended period of time, that you are not having fun, it is time to change something. When you stop having fun, you can no longer be as effective and as powerful.

3. Knowing when to say NO

I love talking about this principle, because it is the heart and soul of a happy and balanced life.

We will get to saying yes in the next principle, but the truth is that you will never get to yes, until you learn how to say no.

In business ownership, you must learn how to say no to clients. Not every client is your client. You are not going to be able to assist and help every individual that comes into your life. If you help everyone, there will be no one left for the other entrepreneurs.

Having a well thought out and identified “marketing niche” will serve you well in knowing who you should and should not serve.

As a life coach, I wanted to help everyone and was taking on anyone who needed anything. As you can imagine, my scope was too wide and I quickly became drained and exhausted. While I have lots of experience and expertise, I have particular interests, skills, and strengths. Once I learned to narrow down and identify my “niche”, I started to attract those individuals I could most serve.

Now, I am able to boldly say that I support individuals in “remembering who they are, having a balanced life, and living their divine purpose.”

Saying no is also about knowing when we have done enough for the day. If you work for someone else, there are specific hours and defined work for the most part. When you own your own business, you set the hours and the workload. Over time, you have to learn when you have had a good, productive day. It helps if you set some goals for that day. But even that is not the sole measure of when to stop for the day. Feeling exhausted and overwhelmed often comes when we have stayed too long on a project and are trying to force something to happen that is just not going to happen.

Listen to your body: it usually tells you when it is time to stop and return to your family and friends and seek your renewal.

4. Knowing how to take care of ourselves – Saying Yes to ourselves

Renewal is totally about knowing how to take care of ourselves. It is about saying YES to ourselves.

Knowing how to take care of ourselves is having a process in place where we, on a regular basis, do an internal check up on all of the areas of our lives.

One of the exercises I do with all of my coaching client is to have them complete “The Wheel of Life.” I ask them to look at the following areas of their lives and identify those areas that may require their attention. They reflect on and assess their emotional, physical, professional, life purpose, financial, intellectual, friendship and family, and love and intimacy.

Just like we take our car in for a check up and to check the alignment, tire pressures, and change the oil, we too need to regularly schedule maintenance on ourselves and our relationships.

What is it about us as humans, that we have to be in crisis mode before we make changes or do things differently in our lives.

It is not necessary to have a heart attack, or be on the verge of a divorce before we say yes to ourselves and to those things that are important to us.

We are only able to give what we have ourselves. If we are drained, depleted and running on empty, this will seriously impact our work. Ultimately, it will affect every area of our lives.

Building in regular reflection and exercise time is critical to developing and growing your business. Learning how to say yes to your needs is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and your business.

A wonderful resource/tool in this area is Just Enough by Laura Nash and Hoard Stevenson

5. Knowing when to ask for help

Attention all entrepreneurs – it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. In fact, it is a sign of a healthy individual to know when they need help and to seek out resources and individuals when the need arises.

When you really know your strengths, you will know what you need to call forth to compliment those strengths.

Asking for help is a sign of strength and allows others to share their gifts and talents with you. Just look at nature and you will see how beautifully connected and interdependent all of life really is. We too were meant to be connected and supportive of each other in this same way.

I do admit that I had to learn how to ask for help and assistance. I thought that because I was in businesses for myself, that I was by myself. This is so far from the truth.

There are a host of resources, mentors and guides who are anxiously awaiting you call for assistance. There are individuals who have walked your path and have valuable lessons and experiences to share with you.

One of the first things I did, when I moved to my new home a year ago, was to get a Spiritual Director. How could I be a Spiritual Life Coach and not have one myself.

So, I invite you to be open to the support and fellowship that is all around you. You just have to open your arms and your mind and be willing to receive.

Working for yourself and having your own business is one of the most rewarding experiences of our adult life. How it plays out and whether it will be a rewarding and amazing experience, I believe, depends on: remembering your “why”; staying focused and having fun in the process; knowing when to say no; knowing how to take care of ourselves – saying yes to ourselves; and knowing when to ask for help.