Flying Solo – Here’s What to Learn Before You Take Off
Welcome aboard your flight towards being a franchisee. Before we take off, we’d like to point out the safety features of this opportunity…
Some franchise systems require their franchisees to work in a shop or an office and employ staff or engage contractors. Some franchise systems require their franchisees to work from home or from a van, often on their own or with another person.
I call them solo-zees: franchisees who work predominately on their own.
Do you think you could work effectively and run a profitable business on your own? The benefits of being a solo-zee include:
• You have greater flexibility in determining your work hours.
• You can work locally and from home (with added bonuses of sleeping in and working in your PJs).
• You have the world as your workplace, as you are no longer restricted by office hours, access to buildings and security guards.
• You do not have to travel to work or to deal with irritating co-workers, office politics, tiresome team meetings and managers.
I love, love, love working from my home office and have done so for the best part of a decade (I’m what they call a solo-preneur).
However, the challenges of working on your own are these:
• If you don’t work, you don’t earn. Gone are the days of the paid Aussie sickie, annual and long service leave. Taking a day off in your own business produces nothing.
• Your home office is your headquarters and homes contain friends and family that want to spend time with you.
• Working on your own can be isolating, frustrating and boring.
• You need to be more disciplined, selfmotivated, focused and determined than your office or store-based cousins.
Your pre-entry education and due diligence for mobile-based franchises needs to include a few extra things to learn more about and consider before deciding to be a solo-zee.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY…
There are many occupational health, safety and environmental issues that directly relate to setting up a home office, and/or using a van or mobile business. You’ll need to get your head around what the legislation requires you to do.
Factors may include (but are not limited to):
• establishing home office security, emergency and disaster recovery procedures
• managing trips and hazards in your home office, van, mobile business and the implications with working in another person’s home
• requirements associated with manual handling and safe storage of stock, tools and products
• testing and tagging all electrical appliances used in your home office and mobile business
• having smoke-free workplaces (including your van!)
• having a dedicated home office space that is ergonomically comfortable and suitable
The best starting point to learn more about your solo-zee legal OHSE obligations is to contact your state-based OHSE authority for more information and advice.
PLEASE ASSIST YOURSELF
BEFORE ASSISTING OTHERS…
If it is to be, it’s up to me… a solo-zee! Being a successful solo-zee requires a unique skill set which needs to be developed and continually maintained.
The first set of skills relates to discipline. You are responsible for creating a work schedule that ensures you deliver your core role duties, maintain the agreed levels of productivity and meet deadlines and promises.
Knowing what time of day are you are most productive is a great starting point, as you can dedicate this highly productive time to priority activities, income producing tasks … or even the tasks that are seemingly too hard – or the important tasks you’ve been ignoring.
Your work schedule needs to be flexible, allowing for last minute changes in priorities and those delightful blips on the radar. Setting up a schedule is the easy bit, sticking
to it requires discipline. When you are not working in a team or under the gaze of a manager, it is tempting to slack off and let things slip.
No one will be there to crack the whip and no one responds to spousal-nagging.
The second skill set focuses on wellness. Being mentally and physically fit is a key success factor for solo-zees. Being a franchisee is something that you have never done before.
You will experience excitement, anxiety, enjoyment and isolation. Some of these feelings may lead to unhappiness, uncertainty and depression, which in turn impact self-discipline and determination. Developing skills that support great mental wellness include creating awareness of your own highs and lows, how they can be best managed and being able to talk it through and asking for help.
As for physical wellness, solo-zees know that their body is now their number one asset. The healthy mind and healthy body combination allows you to do more. Exercising daily and taking care with lifting heavy objects, driving for long hours and paying attention to how you sit at your desk all contribute to physical wellness.
Plus, research has shown that you will put weight on when you choose to work from your home office – the fridge is way too close. Maintaining regular, nutritious eating patterns and stocking the fridge and pantry full of goodness are new skills you need to develop.
The third skill set is all about creating boundaries. Solo-zees are faced with many, new and interesting distractions – things that divert our attention or seem way more important (such as an arvo nap, Oprah and doing the dishes).
Sometimes the major distractions and interruptions are the people you live with, so it is up to you to set expectations and manage boundaries. When you’re using some of your flexibility to work nights or weekends, the people in your house will be there either getting miffed about you working again or they will be tempting you to slack off.
Establishing boundaries with those you live with allows you to create a dedicated space and time for work, while you honour your promises in order to keep a happy home.
And finally, the fourth skill set relates to connectivity. Working in isolation from the rest of the franchise network can be challenging at times. Franchisors will often organise regular meetings and events which allow you to reconnect with your peer franchisees.
Ultimately, you are responsible for ensuring you receive the right amount of business coaching, people interaction and socialisation you need every day.
Also, managing customer complaints and handling work challenges and crisis on your
own can seem daunting, but you have the blessed benefit of being able to pick up the phone and speak with someone who truly understands.
Checking in daily is an essential ‘to do list’ item for all solo-zees. Debriefing your day, asking for help, discussing ideas and shooting the breeze with your franchisor and peer franchisees on a regular basis keeps you sane.
AND THE EXITS ARE HERE,
HERE AND HERE…
Occasionally escaping day-to-day routines is essential, as it allows you to work on the business (rather than working in it). Finding a local business coach, hanging out with local business people and forming a band of local franchisees provides you with a business community – a space where you can bounce ideas, ask advice and learn stuff. You need to develop these relationships yourself and build your own network.
Being a solo-zee places greater emphasis on learning and prioritising different skills – such as being organised and being disciplined around your plans; focusing on mental and physical wellness; setting boundaries so that everyone at home is happy and maintaining constant connection with the network.
Being a solo-zee works for some, it doesn’t work for others. To make it work for you, refer to the checklist of additional questions and tasks to complete during your due
At this stage, please ensure your tray table is up and your seatbelt fastened. It’s time for take-off. Let’s go!
Julia Camm is the founder of Corven, a research and education consulting firm. Julia has been consulting to the franchise sector since 1995, helping franchisors achieve more from their education and training activities. She is currently completing her doctorate on franchisee education.
Contact Julia at:
Phone: 1800 65 15 45