So you have a Business Mentor…Now What?

one on oneAfter careful consideration and research, you have decided to enlist the support of a business mentor to help you and your business. You have found a coach with plenty of experience, who is easy to talk to and interested in embarking on this journey with you.

So what now?

How do you ensure that you reap the value of your business mentor, and see improvements and growth in your business? Unsurprisingly, this is where the work begins. Before you meet with your mentor, you must be prepared to take a good, hard look at your business and be ready to make objective observations about how it is performing. Take some time to decide where you want your business to be in a year, five years or ten years, because thorough reflection will ensure that your business mentor knows how to challenge and push you to reach your goals. Take inventory of the strengths and weaknesses of your business so that you are prepared to discuss and tackle issues that need improvement as well as ways to further strengthen your attributes.

In short, you must do your homework before every meeting with your mentor in order to make the most of the time you spend with him or her. This ensures that this time is spent instead on learning from their experience, asking thoughtful questions and developing tactical steps to reach your goals. I’ve compiled some questions that could be helpful for provoking conversation with your mentor:

1. What advice can you give me in developing or improving my business plan?

2. From your experience, what lesson did you learn that would be most valuable to me?

3. What are the ways that will help me determine the risks and benefits of an important business decision?

4. From your observations thus far, what do you identify as my areas of weakness?

5. What does my business do well?

6. This is where I am, and this is where I want to be. What needs to change for me to get there?

7. With my goals in mind, how should I be spending my time?

8. How can I help you?

The last question, while different from the rest, becomes just as important because it signals the strength of the relationship between mentor and mentee. Mentorship is never a one-way street and by investing in this relationship and looking to contribute to it, you are communicating your commitment to the mentorship process and ensuring your mentor sees value in playing the role of your mentor.

What other questions would add value to a meeting with your mentor? Do you think that taking time to reflect on your business beforehand enriches the mentorship process? I look forward to your comments below!


3 Steps To Making Better Decisions

The-power-of-good-decision-makingAs business owners, your number one responsibility is to make decisions and lead the team.  That said, in all my years as a business advisor, it is surprising that the one area that I see many business owners struggle with is decision-making.

3 Steps To Making Better Decisions

As the leader of a company, people are relying on you to make prompt, clear-cut decisions – whether you delay or run away from the decision-making all together will directly impact the success of your business and team.  Having a good process in place for making decisions is the best way to ensure you are making the right decision, and keeping all matters consistent.

I’ve outlined below a simple three-step process that will help you make better decisions

Step 1: Clearly Identify the Issue

The first step in solving any problem for good is making sure that you’re addressing the cause, and not the symptom. Too often I see business owners or leaders get stuck looking at the symptoms and mulling them over and over, yet never addressing the root cause of the issue that needs to be addressed. When you identify the issue, it sets the groundwork for making a decision.

Step 2:  Solicit Input

Depending on what the issue is, invite staff or senior management to share their input and partake in a group discussion with you.  Hold a meeting in which you clearly state that you value their opinions and want to have a frank and honest discussion. Listen to their opinions.  This should be a one-time meeting on the topic and once you have heard from all the parties, you can tell them when you’ll be making a final decision on this issue and thank them for their participation.  The point of the meeting is NOT to have the team make a decision for you, but rather to weigh in on the topic so you can make a more educated decision.

Step 3: Make a Decision

The final step in the process is the most basic, but sometimes the hardest. Make a decision and move on. You are the boss and making decisions is your top job responsibility. So after you’ve heard from your key people, it’s time to decide what you’re going to do, assign responsibilities for getting it done, and move on. Remember there is no perfect decision!

A successful company needs a leader with clarity; one who can make decisions and communicate the rationale behind them.  Wouldn’t you want to follow a good leader?

 

Do you find it hard to make decisions?  How has good or bad decision-making affected your business?  Please share your experiences in the comments below.


Perserverance Is The Key To Success

persevereI have focused the last several blogs on providing some insightful tips to help individuals on their journey when deciding to own a business, whether that be starting your own business, buying an existing business or buying a franchise.

There has been a lot of planning and research done to get you to the point where you make a decision, and launch your business.  It is one of the most fulfilling things you may ever experience when you get the key to your new office, hire your staff, and get your office set up. The first couple of months in a new business is very busy, and can leave you on a bit of a high, but by month three or four when you start receiving bills and revenues are less than you forecasted, it can be very discouraging.

With over 40 years of business experience, and specifically the last 10 as a franchise owner, I can tell you that all businesses experience difficult times. For some it’s hard to find prospects while for others it’s hard to close deals, but no matter how difficult it seems at the time, stick to your plan and processes and you will get through it.

As entrepreneurs we will get stuck from time to time, and it is important to see that as an opportunity to think outside the box, challenge our comfort zones and get on with making our dreams a reality.

 

How About You?
If you are running your own business, what types of exercises do you do when you’re stuck? I look forward to hearing your stories in the comments below.


Steps to Finding the Right Franchise Business

masterAre you ready to dive into the world of franchise ownership, but aren’t sure exactly where to start? You aren’t alone! The franchise industry is large, and one can easily get lost if they are not sure what they’re looking for.  Using my experience from my own TAB franchise ownership, this week I would like to share with you the steps involved in finding the right franchise business for you.

  1. Decide on what industry you’re interested in. I mentioned in my blog last week that there is so much more to the franchise industry than fast food restaurants. Do not limit yourself to looking in just one area. Explore all the industries, from food and retail, to finance and professional services. Do not be afraid of the unknown – look at all options as opportunities to learn something new.  Most importantly, determine what you’re passionate about to guide your search.
  2. Select at least three franchises in your industry of choice. Being able to compare the franchises will prove extremely helpful when deciding which is the best fit for you.
  3. Contact each franchisor and discover who they really are. Inquire about the process involved in purchasing a franchise. Every good franchisor will have a clearly outlined process. Having this conversation with the franchisor is crucial before continuing to narrow down your search.
    Note: Be wary of franchisors that look for money upfront or require you to sign any commitment at this stage. These are red flags that should bring their credibility into question. Their process should allow you to determine how fast or slow you want to proceed.
  4. Review the franchise disclosure document. It should provide a complete picture of the franchisor from legal structure to financials as well as detail franchisee commitments and franchisor responsibilities.  You may want to have an experienced franchise lawyer review this with you.
  5. The fun begins when you are ready to visit head office and meet the people you’ll be working with. You should meet all the key individuals you will be working with and learn about their training program, marketing resources and other support systems they have in place.
  6. Before making your final decision, you should have access to all existing and past franchisees so you can ask them about their experiences with their franchise and their relationship with the franchisor.  Make sure you have all the answers you need before signing any agreements with, or paying any money to the franchisor.
  7. Once you’ve made your decision to move forward with purchasing the franchise, communicate your interest to the franchisor and ask for the franchise contract. Be sure to have the contract reviewed by your lawyer.
  8. Your initial payment usually includes the licensing fee, marketing support, and training. These three components are necessary for the success of your franchise.

Keep in mind that processes for small and large franchises may differ. Size changes a number of variables, so keep that in mind when comparing franchisors.

I always enjoy hearing from you.  Please share your franchise questions or stories in the comments below.


Starting A Business – Think First, Act Second (Part 3)

franchise

If you’re thinking of purchasing a franchise, your process is going to differ greatly from those thinking of starting a business or purchasing an existing one. Franchise ownership brings with it a unique set of challenges, risks, and benefits that some do not completely grasp.

The first and most important question I ask anyone investing in a franchise is “have you done your homework?” The number of franchises available is endless, and what most don’t realize is a franchise is more than just your typical fast food restaurant or retail store. It is important to move past the bricks and mortar concept of a franchise and see the franchise world in its entirety.  For example the professional services franchises industry, which handles white-collar jobs, like career coaching and banking services, is surging ahead of the typical retail franchises.  Spurred by middle-management and upper-management individuals with expertise in a field, they are looking for some type of business opportunity and this type of franchise is an opportunity for individual professionals to be part of a larger brandwith access to many resources.

Choose your industry and do your research! As I said last week, knowledge is power. Every franchisor has different regulations and policies and as such, they cannot all be treated the same. You must dive into the nitty gritty details of each franchisor and decide which businesses truly meet your criteria. Make sure that your goals and values align with those of your franchisor.

Once you have narrowed down your options, determine if they are financially feasible. Franchises require an up front investment, so it is imperative, as is with any business, to ensure you have the capital necessary from the beginning. On the plus side, franchises are a known, fixed investment unlike start-ups or existing businesses where there can be daunting hidden costs.

Once you have purchased a franchise, enjoy the benefits! If you partnered with the right franchisor, you will receive ongoing support from the franchisor in terms of training, resources, marketing, and much more! With an established brand, your selling power is increased, your ramp up period is shorter, and your likelihood of success is greater.

Ultimately, you must find the franchisor that best suits your needs and ensure that your short and long term goals are consistent. If you can find your match, a franchise partnership may be right for you!