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Difference Between a Franchise Owner & an Entrepreneur

Recently, I interviewed one of my business heroes, Michael Gerber, for my Franchise Euphoria Podcast.  Gerber is a true legend of entrepreneurship. Inc. Magazine has referred to him as “the world’s #1 small business guru.”  Gerber and his companies have helped tens of thousands small business owners transform their businesses into world class operations. He is the author of the mega-bestseller “The E-Myth Revisited” and 13 other business coaching books.  And he is a huge proponent of franchising, when done right.

During the course of our discussion, he mentioned something that really stuck with me, and should resonate with you: Good franchise owners are not entrepreneurs, they are exceptional managers.

At first listen, I thought, well sure they are entrepreneurs, just with lower risk tolerance.  But the more I thought about it, I think Gerber is exactly right.  To be sure, anybody who risks capital on a business, franchise or otherwise, is somewhat of an entrepreneur.

But I believe Gerber’s bigger point was that true entrepreneurs create things not follow others’ creations.  In other words, the entrepreneur is the person who started and built the franchise that you are now considering buying.

Regardless of your definition of the “entrepreneurial” makeup, the bottom line is that by in large:  excellent managers make excellent franchisees.

Most buyers, though, don’t pay attention to their own skills.  Rather, they get caught up in the system they are going to buy, as if it is going to run itself.

In other words, most franchise buyers pay attention to the wrong things.

They fall in the love with the brand, but don’t stop to think about themselves, their personalities, and what attributes they bring to the table.  Before you ever buy a franchise, you MUST go through a thorough self-assessment.  And I even recommend speaking to others who really know you, and get their opinion on your skillset.

It is important that you do this for a number of reasons, but mostly, you want to make sure that you are a good candidate to be a franchise owner.  I wish I could confidently say that most franchisors are good at knowing or caring to know ahead of time whether their prospective franchisees will be good operators, but I can’t.  Sadly, many franchisors see the dollars that will be generated through the franchise fee and royalties, and pay little attention to the individual that will be operating the underlying franchise.  Ironically, the same issue arises when franchisees only pay attention to the money they hope they can make through franchising, but don’t take the time to determine if they are or can learn to become an exceptional manager.

Exceptional managers bring many skills to the table, below are 4 of the most critical ones:

  1. Empower:  Exceptional managers empower the people around them so that they have better clarity on the tasks they are responsible for, and have the resources and tools to achieve the goals of the business.

  1. Engage:  Exceptional managers engage with their staff on a regular basis, and engage in the work as well.  We no longer live in a top down society.  The new workforce prefers to work with their managers and possess more of a “team” strategy where everyone has clearly defined roles, including the manager and owner.

  1. Enthusiasm:  Exceptional managers have energy and enthusiasm.  They have a positive outlook and are solution providers.  They solve problems and infect their teams with energy and a “can-do” attitude.

  1. Excellence:  Exceptional managers are excellent in the following ways – they know their business, they know the customer, they live and breathe customer service, they know their people; they know how to lead their people, they understand technology, and they are open and transparent.

How To Tell If You Fit the Mold?

Empower, Engage, Enthusiasm, and Excellence!  It all sounds great, but how do you know if you meet these qualifications and others when you don’t have a corporate background or business management experience?

Well, you really don’t need a corporate or small business background to be an exceptional manager.  Don’t get me wrong, it certainly helps, but it is not a prerequisite.  If you have strong interpersonal skills, are an effective communicator, organized, and are a creative problem solver; you most likely are or could become an exceptional manager.

If you don’t know whether you possess these characteristics, then take the time to figure it out before you do anything else. Understanding these key personal characteristics will help you in all areas of your life.

More than likely the franchise you are interested in will be around after you first figure out if you are a good fit for franchising.  What won’t be around, however, is your franchise fee after you purchase and then realize you are not a good fit.

Be smart.  Be proactive.  And know with certainty whether you already are or can become an exceptional manager BEFORE you part ways with your money.

Otherwise you are just playing the lottery.  We all know those odds.