How to Persevere Through Startup and Build a Strong Franchise Concept
One of the best lessons to be learned in starting a business is that nobody will do the work for you.
by David Ellenwood
Nearly every entrepreneur can agree that starting a business is extremely difficult — there’s no avoiding it. It requires an extraordinary amount of perseverance, hard work, optimism, dedication, faith and every other uplifting adjective you can list.
Business startup has often been compared to the axiom “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” As overused as that saying may be, it couldn’t be truer. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but in business, you must be ready for the long road ahead. Success doesn’t happen overnight and it will require more work than you’ve ever committed to before.
Expect the Unexpected
Famous writer Oscar Wilde said, “to expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” This mantra fits well with the constantly changing landscape of the business and franchise world. From surprise expenses to delayed timelines, hiring hiccups and everything in between, the average startup comes with a lot more twists and turns than many entrepreneurs anticipate. There’s really no way to avoid it, so it’s best to just accept Wilde’s advice and expect the unexpected.
To do so is a little easier said than done, however. Diligence will be your best friend and tool during this turbulent time, so be sure to show patience and endurance during the startup phase. Conducting an analysis of the market, the industry and especially your business plan to fully prepare before opening the doors is a must-do.
Other necessary steps will include a competitive analysis, industry research and growth projections, an investigation of business resources available to you, and a realization that there’s always something to learn about owning and operating a business.
If you’re able to anticipate uncontrollable factors and prepare accordingly, this will be an especially good tool when you take your business to the next level and begin to franchise.
All or Nothing
One of the best lessons to be learned in starting a business is that nobody will do the work for you. You’re most likely going to work harder than you ever have in your life, and it will require an incredible amount of dedication and commitment to get off the ground. But, it won’t stop there. As you continue to grow five, 10, or even 15 years after startup, you’ll continue to work vigorously to keep your business churning. Add a whole new level of work when you figure franchising into the mix.
One of the most heartbreaking experiences in business is working tirelessly to establish a successful business to then reach a plateau of growth and prosperity. Because of that, you need to be ready to put your life on hold for the health of your business. If you’re expecting to maintain a typical nine-to-five, 40-hour week, with weekends and evenings off, you are in for a bit of a reality check. The business always comes first. Committing to operating as founder, CEO, president, IT staff, caregiver, janitor and every other position that a business needs to run properly is essential.
Avoid Overnight Growth
Even if you’re able to defy the odds and see exponential success in a short period, you should do so with caution.
While on the surface unexpected growth may sound like a nice problem, it’s frequently accompanied by a few downturns. One such negative is an increasing demand and a diminishing resource pool. As a new startup, you’ve most likely had to tap into a number of resources to get your business up and running, so when you see a surge in business and turn to those resources for relief, there may be a good chance they have been exhausted. If you find yourself in that scenario, it can be overwhelming and discouraging.
One of your solutions — though it doesn’t sound as such on the surface — is to be judicious in selecting the amount of business you want to take in right away. Sometimes you have to turn your customers away for the overall health of your business, and that’s never easy. Eventually, once you can crack the ceiling into franchising, the days of selective business will have been a thing of the past. But as always, the best course of action is one for you to determine, so grow at a pace that’s right for you and your business.
At the end of the day, you wouldn’t be getting into business for yourself if you weren’t confident in your potential for success. Remember that when you’re working endless hours, you’re sacrificing your freedom and often any capital that you’ve managed to save. Acknowledge that what you’re doing is not something most people can do and take a break once in a while to reflect on what you’ve created. Give yourself a pat on the back, and then get back to work and keep pushing forward.
Learn from Others
You may be thinking, why should I take advice from someone I’ve never met? Eight years ago, my career crumbled. Like many others during that time, I was faced with a devastating layoff from a long and lucrative career as a medical supplies salesman and marketing representative. It was a crushing blow to my family and me. But, what made it even worse was my inability to secure a new profession in the turbulent, post-recession economy.
I spent the next two years trying to recover, collecting unemployment on and off, taking odd jobs, and even tapping into my past plumbing roots (an old trade I’d long left behind) to start a business. The more unsuccessful I became in my ventures, the more pessimistic I felt.
Thankfully, the light did appear. Armed with the last bit of money in my savings — $10,000 — months of preliminary research, and a whole lot of hope, I decided to start a business in one of the fastest growing industries in the country — senior care.
Since that day, about six years ago, we’ve seen our fair share of struggles, but through dedication, perseverance, optimism, faith and a lot of hard work, our efforts have paid off. We are now an Inc. 500 company with more than 300 employees, serving more than 250 clients across the Pittsburgh region, and merely weeks away from opening our first franchise office.
Needless to say, things are finally looking up for my family and me. Take my advice if you’d like, just know that other people have walked this road before you, and it pays to listen.
David Ellenwood is President and Founder of Sunny Days In-Home Care, an in-home care company for seniors.