I’ll let you in on a little secret—and one of the biggest mistakes people make when they first consider franchising: They don’t distinguish between what they’re interested in and what they’re good at. Sounds obvious, but making a simple mental shift from “I like” to “I’m good at” can make a world of difference. You see, when you invest in a franchise, you don't necessarily need to know the new industry on a professional level, though it helps if it's something of interest to you. On the other hand, just because you like an activity or subject area—like crafting, for example—doesn’t necessarily mean a related franchise (like a pottery painting shop) represents the right business model for you.
As a franchise consultant, I always ask my candidates about their personal interests and hobbies—Do they work out? Do they like working with their hands? Do they travel?—but these questions are more to get a sense of the person than they are to inform an investment choice. The fact is that what you’re interested in during your leisure time has very little bearing on what business might best suit your talents. For example, I may love a good glass of wine, but that doesn’t mean I’d be a good vintner, or even a good wine steward. I may like baseball, but you’ll never see me running a memorabilia shop at Wrigley Field.
Even though you need to keep clarity between what you enjoy and what you’re good at, there are some general areas of interest that can help inform franchise selection. For example:
--Are you outgoing? Do you feel comfortable or even energized when you interact with strangers for the first time? Or are you more of an introvert?
--Do you like a challenge? Do you rise to the occasion when you take on something new and unfamiliar?
--Are you good at mental math? No—I’m not talking about calculus or trigonometry here—but about the knack for business numbers I often find strong franchise ownership candidates share.
--Is it important to you to make a difference in other people’s lives? Some candidates do particularly well when they find a franchise that falls in line with their desires to make a difference in others’ lives.
When you sit down with a franchise consultant or your list of franchise concepts of interest, be self-aware. Don’t be the investor who comes leads with, “I like animals (or tea, or computers, or massage) . . . What do you have in that?” Instead, try leading with your abilities, perhaps something like this:
--“I’m a great team leader with a gift for motivating people;”
--“I’ve won two major marketing awards in the last decade;”
--“I’ve had my best professional successes when I’ve had the freedom to set my own schedule;”
--“I do my best work when I feel like the end result matters, like I’m providing a service that is truly valuable to the customer.”
Any of those openers would be a great place to start.
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