Entrepreneurs: Are they made or born, and do they make great franchisees?
A quick answer to the question might be a positive maybe – naturally much depends on how one defines a true entrepreneur. The traditional silhouette of an intrepid business owner is one who takes sizable risks, is an inventor, an investor, a rebel and a lone fish or shark determined to do things differently. You only have to think of individuals such as Jobs, Zuckerberg and Branson to quickly see how the description fits.
Reality, however, sets in when you apply such skills in the franchise world – a world that enables thousands of entrepreneurs to flourish every year – somehow franchise requirements and the skill set do not blend well. Franchisees exhibiting such backgrounds might well be doomed to failure.
A good solid successful franchisee, therefore, may not be somebody that we would consider a traditional entrepreneur. Franchisees need to find and refine the characteristics that are often seen as flaws in the ‘regular’ business world. We think the following, often-unrecorded traits (not flaws) are what make a great franchisee.
1. Be a strong second fiddle
While leadership qualities are admirable and desirable, the key to being a franchisee is the ability to work alongside the franchisor. In such instances, the headstrong leadership style of a traditional entrepreneur is a serious drawback. If you often find yourself thriving in support roles as a key member of the team, you should readily flourish as a franchisee. It’s time to see being a second fiddle as a strength.
2. Be a sheep – not a lone wolf
At the heart of every franchise you will find a sense of family. Connecting, supporting and helping the flock to fly right are driving forces for any franchisor. To succeed as a franchisee, you need to shake off typical entrepreneurial behaviour. Going it alone is not a requirement. If you find yourself reluctant to branch out or feel fear at the thought of going it alone, joining a franchise could be the appropriate solution. Franchisees invariably thrive on connection and
3. The Risk Averse
Risk is a very personal matter – what one person considers reckless, another might deem mild and normal. Entrepreneurs are often characterized as individuals who ‘must take risks’ and quite often large ones. Starting any business is a gamble, and failure is sometimes an option – starting a franchise, however, should not fall into that same risk-failure space. Even if you see yourself as a risk taker, you might find that a franchisor does not want you in their flock. Franchise systems have evolved over many years, and the system has taken the risk and created the blueprint for success. There is no need to take risk, so being averse to it works in your favour as a franchisee.
4. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Generally speaking, a franchise blueprint is bulletproof. All franchisors listen and support their franchisees with a roadmap to success that has been thoroughly tried and tested. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Franchisors prefer to look for individuals who can commit to following the proven path to success. Reinventing the wheel is a typical entrepreneur trait and, as we have stated, does not work well in the franchise environment.
5. Follow the rules
There is a presumption that entrepreneurs break the rules and intentionally do things differently and disruptively. While no franchise is a totally closed box (franchises are well known for the flexibility they offer), a franchisor will take kindly to someone who knows how to follow the rules – remember it is a tried and proven system.
To manage the franchise effectively, franchisees will invariably be required to use the system in an identical manner – again we come back to the tried and tested approach. If you are adept at following a process, then you should succeed as a franchisee.
While these five traits could be considered as flaws for a true entrepreneur, they are certainly a serious asset when it comes to being an entrepreneur in a franchise environment. Sometimes what we interpret as negative issues are really a driving force for success.
David Banfield is the President of The Interface Financial Group, a position that he has held for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in starting Interface as a franchise opportunity and building it to its current international status. Prior to his involvement with Interface, he worked extensively in the banking, credit and factoring financial service areas.