My journey into franchising (Part 1)

Big decisions!

What do you consider to be an important, life changing decision that can influence the rest of your life?

I would include things like getting married, having kids, buying and moving house, and changing jobs in my list. I also think things like approaching the end of a year makes us look back and evaluate what has happened to us, and that can often be the catalyst which prompts change. Often life altering events, like a significant illness, redundancy, and, of course, a global pandemic can be major influencing factors.

As we enter a new year and a fresh start, I thought it timely to share one of the biggest and best decisions I have made – to leave the corporate world and go in to the fascinating and rewarding world of franchising.

It wasn’t an easy decision and my route to where I am now wasn’t straightforward. It involved much self-reflection, in terms of getting to know who I really am and what I wanted for myself and my family at this stage of my career. It also involved evaluating and taking a measured look at the risks involved and ultimately getting myself in to the best position, mentally and financially to move forward. Adrian Knight, author of ‘Change Your Career, Change Your Life’, has produced a series of articles that I wish I had read three or four years ago that may help you too. If you are considering a move in to franchising, have a read.

Over a series of articles, I will share with you ‘My Story’. It will provide an illustration of my journey, my philosophy on franchising and why I think becoming MD of CMC is one of the best career moves I have ever made. I hope you find it useful and that it helps you navigate the path to change that you desire.

My decision-making process

Making the decision to leave the corporate world wasn’t something that just happened over night. I didn’t just wake up one morning and think “that’s it – I’m done with this way of life!”. The corporate world had been good to me. It had provided me with a nice salary, status and to a degree a sense of fulfilment.

So, what prompted me to look for change?

A diagnosis of cancer. The treatment forced me to take a significant period of time away from work and it was that time away that allowed me to evaluate things. Did I still have the inclination to travel, spend hours in a car, or at stations or airports? Did I still want to spend half my life in hotels? Did I still want to play that horribly unrewarding game of corporate politics?

Ultimately, I decided that despite the salary and the security that gives, the health insurance and the car allowance, I was no longer interested in being a hostage to the corporate career I once craved. An opportunity came to leave on somewhat favourable terms, which I evaluated and came to the decision to set myself free.

The next steps

Once I had made the decision to leave, and in parallel to negotiating my exit package, I started to consider my options. I briefly flirted with the idea of a change of scenery in the corporate world but quickly reminded myself that would not give me what I now wanted. I also had to be really clear with myself and family what exactly it was that I wanted – so I made a list. In fact, I made several lists or more accurately lots of iterations of the same list. High on that list was a desire to not spend any more unnecessary nights in hotel rooms away from my family. Maybe the odd one every few months but certainly not 3 or 4 a week as I had been used to. I also wanted to be able to use the skills and experience I had acquired over a 30-year career working with some outstanding people, being the beneficiary of some excellent training and successfully facing many challenging situations.

Quite simply, I didn’t want to throw the past away and start again. I wanted to use and build upon that experience but build my own business. Work on my terms. Work with the people I wanted to work with. Work hard but work flexibly and work when I wanted to. Also, I wasn’t ready or willing to work for nothing (although I have now taken on a number of volunteer opportunities because I’m interested in them and I can easily fit them around my work)! I wanted an income that would allow me to still maintain a nice lifestyle.

With that I quickly narrowed down my options to the following three:

  1. Become a Contractor
  2. Set up my own business
  3. Buy a franchise

I pretty quickly dismissed contracting as it’s not for me. I didn’t want to move from project to project every 6 to12 months. Also, I wanted to do something that would allow me to build longer term relationships so that I wasn’t constantly looking for my next role. Then, I thought about setting up a ‘Consultancy Business’ of my own. At first this was really appealing. I had the knowledge, some tools, some experience (albeit backed by my former Corporate employer) and a sizeable network to go at. However, closer examination revealed that this was more difficult than I first thought. There are loads of 1 man band consultants out there. A quick inspection of these revealed that very few are making a good sustainable income. Even worse, very few actually survive more than a year and only a fraction who start out on that journey last 3 years. So, with some disappointment I consigned that option to the ’too hard and too risky’ pile.

That led me to start to look at the world of franchising

I was excited. This was a world of opportunity and I had no shortage of potential options to investigate. I had a brief look at nearly all the ‘white collar’ franchises that I could find. Narrowing down my focus was quite difficult but eventually I filtered my list down from about a dozen to six that I wanted to make further enquiries with. Of those 6 I had “Discovery Days’ with 4 of them and got really excited about all 4. In their own way each opportunity was very tempting. The people running the franchises were very credible. They made it very clear that they wanted me to join and they assured me that I was exactly the sort of person they were looking for. I continued my research and got to the point of reviewing the franchise agreement in one case and very close to signing up in another. Ultimately though I didn’t take the plunge. I was disappointed and I know the franchise owners were disappointed too. Something was missing for me. Something prevented me making the investment and taking the plunge.

Join me for Part 2…

And discover how my journey evolved from here. See you soon.

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