​Thinking Big, But Focusing Small

Christopher Conner  |

Our firm, Franchise Marketing Systems has been in the franchise development field for almost 10 years now and worked with over 200 brands to develop franchise organizations and then scale models into new markets, in a handful of cases, brands have been able to scale globally. What has become apparent in my time in franchising is what makes a successful entrepreneur who is able to grow a business to a large degree generally is someone who has incredible vision and a confidence that is unwavering.

There is an energy to this type of entrepreneur, which is hard to define, even when the odds seem to be stacked against them, they are incredibly confident and see the potential in their brand regardless of circumstances. What has also become apparent to me in my time in franchising is that you can’t just have vision for where you are taking the business, you also need to have the ability to focus on the details along the way. There have been great business owners I’ve worked with who had insanely good ideas and vision, just weren’t great at executing them.

It starts with vision. A big part of my work is helping franchisors evaluate their brand and business as a franchise to help them understand whether franchising is a viable option for growing their business. They typically start with something like this, “Mr. Conner, I have a great business selling widgets, in business since 1997 and have an opportunity to franchise the business. Does this seem like a good idea to franchise this Mr. Conner?” What happens in the interview process with a potential franchisor is that we try to get a feeling for what drives the business, whether they have the financial model to offer a compelling franchise system and other tangible variables. After some time to get to know the model, there is enough time together to understand whether the business owner has what it takes to franchise a business successfully. The single biggest determining factor tends to be what makes the founder “tick”.

Entrepreneurs with vision talk about where they are taking the business, they have no fear screaming their value proposition and are seeing a 3, 5 and 10 year game plan for their business already mapped out to a degree. These are all good signs for a business owner to be a potentially effective franchisor. What are not good signs are things like, “Mr. Conner, I’m still working on hiring the right cashier and I’d like to review my recipes again, also the color scheme of the restaurant needs to be updated before I franchise.” These are attributes of someone who is too focused on the minutia and details which in the end are not overly relevant to what someone will do or will be able to do with a business, certainly not good signs for whether a business owner could be a franchisor.

The execution comes down to details. Franchising a business or growing a business to a great success story requires incredible ability to execute. There are new hires that need to happen along the way, there are marketing budgets, financial analysis and other significant KPI’s whether it be franchising or just growing a business to a large degree that need to be addressed and managed carefully. For these elements to be addressed correctly and effectively, an entrepreneur needs to understand what these details are and how to address them. In some cases, the entrepreneur can do these things themselves, but many times the successful entrepreneurs realize they need to hire someone who is capable and has the time to address these requirements along the way. This requires an entrepreneur who can put ego in the back seat, treats the business itself with respect, understands the respects the financial needs of the business apart from their own and is willing to step back when people smarter than them provide advice and direction.

Ultimately, in entrepreneurship there are so many variables that come into play as to how big and how fast a business grows, but what I’ve seen to be the single biggest driver is the person behind the brand. First, it takes vision and a willingness to take a business into the future in a big, bold way. Second, it requires someone who is willing to hire and develop the right people to focus on the details and have the humility to let people do their job and perform.

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