Going into your own business is a life changing step on your journey through life. When you start on your business journey, your head spins with the legal requirements, taxes, payroll, leases, contracts and it can seem to be all too hard. This was my impression before we took the plunge and opened our first store and back then the internet wasn’t there to help.
In my opinion, the biggest risk at the start is getting the wrong advice and using the wrong consultants and this is where word of mouth plays such an important role. The great news is that there are so many franchisees in Australia so it is not too hard to find a person to point you in the right direction. What I would suggest is that when you settle on the accountant, lawyer and/or consultant, make sure you get good references as there are great consultants out there, but equally, there are ones that may not do the right thing by you. Do not rely just on the advice of the consultants, do as much of your own research as you can, as no one will care more passionately about your money and investment than you do. It is undeniable that being a part of a franchise network gives you a greater chance of success than starting your own business, but it does not give you a guaranteed ticket to success, which is where I think some people make the mistake when going into business. Some people look at a franchise business and think it will run itself (“that is why I am paying a royalty”) and it will be an investment for them, much like an investment property. This attitude is a fast track to losing the money you have put into the business. Franchising, like any other business, needs your total focus and commitment to be successful. So why does a franchise give you a better chance of success? There are a number of reasons and these reasons only work for the good, solid franchises. Below are some positives, some negatives and some other things to consider:
The franchisor should have a proven business model that has a history of being profitable
The business model is scalable, in other words the business model needs to be replicable, not just successful in a certain location. You need to do an enormous amount of research on the franchisor you are considering and just because it is associated with some sort of business group or council, does not mean it is a good business, many of these groups can be joined by simply paying a fee.
All businesses must have a disclosure document. Make sure you read this fully, do thorough reference checks and see for yourself what experiences the existing franchisees are having. But more importantly you need to love the industry you are in, as you will be spending more time in your new business than with your family or friends.
Group buying power
There are a number of businesses out there that are not sustainable simply because they cannot get their gross margin to where they want and need it to be. Australia is a very expensive place to do business and margins are very tight, so being a part of a large group has an enormous advantage in buying power. This not only includes your raw ingredients or stock, it also includes things like media buying power and utilities.
Branding and marketing
If you are an individual business the chances are you would not be able to hire a marketing department and if you can, it is highly likely you would not have too much money left over to do any marketing! Often when you go into a franchise there is normally a percentage of your turnover that goes into a group marketing fund. This enables you to have the advantage of a full marketing team as well as great buying power when purchasing things like printing, media and other necessary items. It also allows a level of professionalism that you would not normally get as an individual business.
Sometimes running your own business can seem quite lonely. Being a part of a network enables you to network with people who are in the exact same business. With that network you will find people who have various strengths that can be of assistance. With the good franchisors you can get a level of community with a group of like minded people.
Support from the franchisor
The best franchisors will have business consultants who assist you with your business. Their role is two-fold; the first is to help you make a profit by monitoring your business and the second part of their job is to protect the brand for the rest of the network and this includes ensuring that the business owner is following the system that has proven to work. Without this, you can get people into the business who can be brand killers, and you need a franchisor that is prepared to make the hard calls when it comes to businesses that are not following the systems.
Joining a franchise, however, is not for everyone and there are risks in any business that you need to consider. If you really want to run your own show and not follow a system, then it is probably better to go down your own path, the advantages are that there is no royalty payments and greater flexibility in how you run your business. Some people are not comfortable with following a set system.
But whatever path you take, make sure you are always accountable for your own business. Paying royalties does not mean that it gives you an excuse to blame someone else for your business not going well. The power of success is accountability, success or failure always depends on you, the business person, taking accountability for your business.
One thing is guaranteed with business and that is that there will be a problem to solve every day! Sometimes you have control and other times, like the recent Queensland floods, that control is taken out of your hands.
But finally, when choosing a business make sure it is something you love, because you will spend most of your waking day either in it or thinking about it.
Janine Allis is Managing Director of Retail Zoo, holding company of Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill and Boost Juice and the Founder of Boost Juice Bars.
Boost is now in more countries than any other juice bar in the world.
For more information contact Retail Zoo franchising sales:
Phone: 03 9508 4400
Web: www.boostjuice.com.au and www.salsas.com.au