The Lone Entrepreneur
As you set out on your new business journey, entrepreneurship looms large like a mountain, intimidating and tempting you at the same time with its many roads and challenges to be climbed and conquered.
The first step, they say, is always the hardest. A mixture of fear and trepidation has stopped many in their tracks. After all, entrepreneurship is a risky business. But as Seth Godin – author, blogger, and founder of Squidoo – says, ‘The only thing worse than starting something and failing ... is not starting something.’
For this very reason, every year tens of thousands of entrepreneurs turn their sights to franchising in order to remove some of the fear and trepidation of starting a business on their own.
A franchise is often referred to as a ‘business in a box’: in many instances it comes ready researched, prepared, documented and set to open. Becoming a franchisee in an established organisation certainly gives an entrepreneur the sense of belonging and the feeling of being part of a family. However, the journey towards the right franchise opportunity can also be somewhat daunting, and as a lone entrepreneur, you should always consider building a team of local advisors and professionals to both speed up and ease the process.
A local accountant could be your start-up’s saving grace: they are often well connected and attuned to the local business community, an area in which you will be operating. Accountants can provide invaluable feedback on local business conditions, in addition to helping in the more traditional accounting areas such as preparing cash flow and budget forecasts, tax planning, bookkeeping and more. Accountants have the skills and knowledge to make a profitable difference to your business at an early stage.
Even if you are considering a franchise which will possibly cover many of these elements – i.e. cash flow, bookkeeping, etc – you still have to look at the larger picture of your own operating company which will own your franchise.
A good local attorney can aid your start-up journey by ensuring that you have the right legal framework for your new business. Frameworks differ from location to location – broadly speaking, they can be categorised into a sole ownership situation, a partnership or an incorporated company with some form of limited liability. The legal specialist will be able to advise you of the most suitable framework for your particular entity and venture. There may well be a crossover with your accountant in this area, as you may need to start thinking about forward tax planning and the appropriate vehicle to use to offer you the best journey.
Banks tend to be more supportive of new ventures than we realise. This is perhaps particularly true when that new venture is a franchise. Many banks have specialist units that are geared specifically to the franchise industry. These individuals have a wealth of knowledge and experience and, alongside your accountant and attorney, can provide you with invaluable advice based on their extensive background in the industry.
Whether it’s for a bank, an accountant or an attorney, always remember that shopping around is a good thing. If you have professionals that are known to you, and with whom you have a relationship, then you have a good starting point. However, they may not be specialists in the specific discipline that you are looking for. If that’s the case, ask for recommendations to get you in front of the right individuals.
The banking world is very competitive, and banks are looking for your business; therefore, it makes sense to shop around to find the best arrangements and facilities that are available, and for the best price.
Individuals starting a business invariably overlook the resources that both local and central government can offer. As taxpayers we have created these services, and therefore should strive to take advantage of the opportunities that they offer. There are numerous government grants, events, mentors, training and start-up programs available to new businesses. These are not overly advertised facilities, and not enough people know about them. Local research in this area is a must for all would-be entrepreneurs.
As we said at the outset, starting a business can be a challenging task. However, with the right team, including all the various components, you can make that task very manageable. If you are starting a business from scratch, then the team is certainly of paramount importance. If you’re starting a franchise, the team is equally important – notwithstanding that the franchisor may provide some of these professional services for you. Either way, you should not be ‘a lone entrepreneur’, but build a team that can provide you with expertise today and for your future growth and 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.