Running a business is an increasingly common aspiration for Millennials. It’s an exciting career path that offers more flexibility than a corporate nine-to-five. And let’s face it: who wouldn’t want to be their own boss?
As the owner of four home-service companies, I understand that dream. But with rising student debt, dropping income levels, and more competition, today’s start-up scene is harder than it’s ever been. In fact, more than 90% of start-ups will close their doors in the first year.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for hungry Millennials to become entrepreneurs. When I started 1-800-GOT-JUNK? at 19, there were plenty of naysayers, confident that my junk-hauling service was nothing more than a summer job. The truth is that anyone starting a business will face doubters and scary statistics, but it’s about finding a way in the face of those odds.
Often, franchising is overlooked as a way to launch a business. The “f” word itself brings to mind cookie-cutter processes and top-down management. But before you dismiss it outright, consider that times have changed, and franchising has, too.
Blended to perfection
Today’s franchises are more like start-up incubators, offering a chance for young people to try their hand at entrepreneurship with support, hands-on learning, and peer collaboration. At O2E Brands, partners start with an intensive, two-week program where they get the same kind of education you’d find at business school. We pair them with experienced owners and offer capital to partners willing to test marketing strategies.
New franchising also depends on creativity and passion – the same principles driving innovation in the tech space. Rather than insisting on rote processes and conformity, agile franchise systems seek creative input from the people on the ground. Some of the best processes we have come from our partners, who know best from running a franchise themselves.
Of course, there are systems and rules, but ensuring your small business thrives depends on having a vested interest and some grit to make it in the marketplace. The best new franchise models blend certain aspects of franchising (proven systems and an established brand) with the creativity and freedom of entrepreneurship. It’s a totally new, powerful beast.
Entry point to entrepreneurship
The Millennials in our system are the ones who understood that done right, franchising is a start-up launch pad. In 2012, Brent Sharpless and three of his college friends were all in great jobs – two lawyers, an investment advisor, and an insurance broker – but they were bored. The predictability of their day-to-day was wearing them down, so they reunited in New York to discuss how they could shake things up.
They decided that owning a business together would provide them with the collaboration, flexibility, and fulfilment they were missing. But their first venture wasn’t what you might expect – it wasn’t a tech start-up or anything trendy. Instead, they bought a house-painting franchise from me and hired a GM to run operations.
Brent says, “Our decision to buy a WOW 1 DAY PAINTING franchise was never about painting. It was about wanting to own a business and knowing that the culture at O2E Brands would give us flexibility and a chance to be creative and build something on our own.”
What they found was that owning a painting business, with the support of an established brand behind it, was the entry point to entrepreneurship they were looking for.
A new way to franchise
Franchising isn’t exactly the same experience as launching your own business. But it is a chance to take a tested idea into a new market with the freedom and flexibility to grow it yourself. Most of the franchise partners within O2E Brands came to us because they were looking for something different. What’s common among them all is that they just needed an entry point to entrepreneurship – and we provided that.
Maybe what franchising needs is a rebrand that shows Millennials (and any aspiring entrepreneurs) that it’s changed. I see franchise partners as we call them today, “entrypreneurs”, because we offer an entry point for aspiring entrepreneurs who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the expertise or capital to launch a business venture.
Your story of entrypreneurship could be the start of a successful legacy in business.
Brian Scudamore is the founder and CEO of O2E (Ordinary to Exceptional) Brands, which includes companies like 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING,You Move Me and Shack Shine. Brian is passionate about helping others grow small to medium businesses and corporate culture.
Tweet Brian at @brianscudamore