The F word – why we need to stop being afraid of franchises

Do you love or loathe the idea of a franchise business? Find out why they’re more than just a ready-made business model – and why they can be the perfect work-life answer for mums.

The word ‘franchise’ can sometimes evoke extreme reactions. Some people love the idea of starting a ready-made business – of launching a proven product or service, with an established brand and marketing strategy, and a reassuring support network.

Others, however, are dismissive of the idea of a franchise – sometimes without really understanding how they work. Or tarring every franchise business with the reputation of a few poor models.

One person who’s definitely a fan of franchises is Jane Maudsley, founder of national performing arts franchise business Little Voices. She explains why she thinks women should stop being afraid of franchises – and embrace the opportunities they offer.

When you buy a franchise you join a family

Starting a business can be lonely. Most entrepreneurs work alone day-to-day, often with no one to share the ups and downs of their work, or to ask advice.

But when you buy into a franchise, you join a built-in community of the wider franchising industry, as well as other franchisees of your particular business model. In fact, I see buying a franchise as less about paying for a business model – and more about joining a an amazing, collaborative community or family.

Certainly that’s the way I approach my business. We’re a family, and I don’t just want anyone to be part of it – I am very particular, and protect, support, care and nurture my family to the best of my ability.

I wouldn’t leave my daughter with a stranger or someone that I didn’t know, like, trust and respect. Equally a Little Voices cannot be looked after or owned by just anyone with the money to join – it has to be part of their blood, and we need to be right for each other!

You can leverage the experience of other franchisees

With a franchise, you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. You have the unique opportunity of starting a business with access to the experiences of a network of individuals on a similar journey – people who have already solved a lot of the problems you may come up against, and are happy to share their solutions.

At Little Voice, we appreciate that the relationships between our franchisees are critical to all our success. So we provide them with a network to discuss challenges and successes, regular meetings, secret forums, weekly support and many other things.

New franchisees also partner with other successful franchisees, to create a mentorship and model for their own business.

Franchises offer flexibility and security

Increasingly, the franchise model appeals to women searching for the kind of financial security and flexibility that’s becoming more and more difficult to find in the workplace. Almost all of our Principals say that spending more time with their families and finding a more rewarding career are the driving factors for investing in a child-orientated franchise.

While running a franchise is time intensive, it allows you to structure your time to fit your needs and pursue your passions. With a tried and tested business model (especially one designed for mums) you don’t need to worry about working until midnight every night trying to fit everything in. Instead you can use established systems that work with your responsibilities, allowing you to build a business that fits your life.

So if you have an entrepreneurial itch, or an idea for a business, look around and see what’s already out there. You may just find that there’s an existing network doing what you want to do, one that will give you all the support, systems, templates, policies and procedures you need to get on and make money.

Franchises won’t work unless you do

All that said, a franchise isn’t a cheat’s route to business success. Yes, a franchise network will give you a tried, tested and proven method, but you’ll still need grit and determination to make it work.

Many mistakes (and stressful moments) can be avoided with support from franchisees that have been running their businesses longer than you, as well as the franchise team in a head office. But you’ll still need an element of business acumen and a desire to make your franchise business work.

You CAN make a million from franchising

And if you do work, then be prepared to enjoy the rewards. It’s a fallacy if you think that owning a franchise will not make you a millionaire, or that somehow you need to be the next Richard Branson or Alan Sugar to be a ‘real’ success. There are a whole host of millionaires out there who have made their money through running franchise businesses.

A franchise gives you the training and tools to reach your financial goals. My uncle was a very successful KFC franchisee, and I have watched programmes on millionaire franchisees within the Dominoes Pizza network. (If you grow a Little Voice franchise to over a 1,000 pupils you’ll reap similar rewards eventually.)

So if you’re considering starting a business, don’t write off the franchise model. Take a look at what’s around and a good fit for your skills, talents and passions. You never know, you may just find your dream business all ready to go!

Want to read more about franchising?

You’ll find more advice and experience in these articles:

You can learn more about Little Voices on their website. If you want to discuss anything in Jane’s articles, you can also email her or call her on 01254 207516.