Remember going on a snipe hunt when you were a child? You didn’t know what exactly a “snipe” was, but you were given enough vague information to pique your interest, and in all likelihood the other kids in the neighborhood verified that not only did the elusive snipe exist- they were magnificent creatures to see once you captured one. So off you went, searching and searching to no avail until eventually you figured out the truth – there was indeed no such thing as a snipe, and the joke was on you . . .
I’m not sure why that childhood memory popped into my head, but it happened today when I was preparing a presentation for an upcoming franchise expo. In the presentation, I talk about how when people are looking for a franchise opportunity, they often run around in circles chasing what we call a “widget”. Chasing a widget, some could say, is the franchise seekers version of a snipe hunt and it looks like this: There’s a specific product or service that appeals to you, so that’s what you want your business to sell or provide. For example, you like yogurt, so you decide you want a yogurt franchise. Or, you have children and you like to take them to indoor play areas for parties, so you decide you must have a franchise that provides indoor play parties for kids. Or, maybe it’s that you have a dog and you love dogs, so you should absolutely be the owner of a dog grooming or dog walking franchise.
At first glance, these ideas seem to have merit. After all, who doesn’t want to own a business for which they have a passion? If you’re going to spend the next 10 years running a business, you want it to be one you love and know something about, right?
Well, not so fast. Let’s think about it for a minute – have you taken the time to look at the actual logistics involved in operating that specific business or are you merely chasing the widget that is the appeal of the concept? For instance, if one of your goals in franchise ownership is to have the time to spend doing what you want, then will that be compatible with the seven day work weeks and long hours required to run a retail establishment? Or if you want to be in control of your own schedule, does that fit with a business that has many employees – and with employees the issues of scheduling, absenteeism, and performance?
If you’re not careful, chasing widgets during your franchise investigation will net you exactly the same results as your childhood snipe hunt did – a big bag full of nothing but frustration!
The better solution is to carefully craft your goals for business ownership – not just the financial goals you set, but the lifestyle related ones as well. Write down the characteristics in a business that will best allow you to reach those goals. Then, use these business characteristics and goals as your guide when you investigate franchise opportunities. With your goals guiding you, it will be easier to keep an open mind regarding industries and individual concepts to explore, and will ultimately net you a better opportunity.