In any life endeavor, your chances of success increase greatly if you're passionate about your desired goal. Passion is a huge source of energy--it drives people to accomplish whatever they set out to do. And, let's face it, it's far more rewarding and satisfying to strive for something you're passionate about.
But as a franchisee, do you need to be passionate about the product or service your franchise is providing to be successful? Furthermore, do you need to be passionate about the franchise business at all to be successful?
Truthfully, the answer is no.
You don't need to be gaga over grass to be a great lawn-care franchisee. There's no need to be passionate about dog poop to become a super-duper pooper-scooper. And yes, even a vegetarian can make a great fast-food franchisee. You don't need passion for the franchise's product or service--but you do need passion for some personal result that you believe you can achieve by being a franchisee.
The simple reality is that when most people become franchisees, their motivation isn't to buy a specific business; their desire is to buy a certain outcome in their life they'd like to see as a result of buying a franchise. The specific product or service involved is often the least of their considerations--as long as they see the business having a high likelihood of producing that outcome.
To be a successful franchisee, your passion for the outcome you seek will give you the drive and energy to overcome the obstacles involved with setting up any new franchise operation.
It's also very important that you're completely comfortable with the role you'll have as a franchisee. If you're only passionate about the product or service, it can actually be detrimental to success--especially if that passion leads you to get involved in a franchise business that otherwise doesn't match well with your skills and goals.
As an example of that dynamic, I don't have to look any further than my own personal experience. I love movies and have always had a passionate interest in all things "Hollywood." In the early '80s, my first franchise experience was becoming a franchisee of a video-rental store.
I loved the idea of being in the movie business. I had visions of being in Hollywood and having lunch with Jane Fonda, working the back lot at Paramount and even walking the red carpet. The decision to become a franchisee in this business was going to, if not make me a star, at least put the stars into my life!
What I soon learned as a franchisee was that I wasn't in the movie business--I was in a standard retail operation where the product just happened to be movie rentals. The product could have been shoes, office supplies, plumbing fixtures (or any of a host of other products), and the business would have been much the same. No Jane Fonda lunches or red carpets; just long hours, lots of minimum-wage employees to try and manage effectively, plenty of fixed overhead, big-time inventory-management issues and a work environment that absolutely did not match my skills or interests.
I wasn't happy, and I wasn't accomplishing the dreams I wanted to achieve in life. Frankly, the experience even ended up taking away some of the passion I had for movies, since I associated the negatives of the retail business environment to my product: the movies.
Don't get hung up on the product; it's the results that matter. To avoid an experience like mine, you should focus on the result you want in your life, whether that's more free time, more responsibility, more income--whatever's driving your passion.
You should be passionate about this result and make sure the franchisee role is one you'll want to have while you're achieving the desired result. Just because you love the unique sandwiches at a franchise restaurant like Schlotsky's (another passion of mine) doesn't mean this is the right business for you.
To help you get started, you may want to consider consulting a franchise referral network. The good franchise referral networks all focus on this key point when trying to help people find a franchise. They strongly urge prospective franchisees at the beginning of the process to ignore any preconceived notions about products or services, and instead focus on what results they want to achieve.
They ask many questions about where the candidate wants to be in a few years. In their desired outcome, what will be different from their current life? Where will they live? What will they be spending their time doing? How much money will they have? What changes will that produce? What options will that give them? These types of questions are designed to determine the result that the candidate wants to accomplish and the level of importance to them (the passion they have) to make this result happen.
Once a referral network determines the passion driving the interests of the prospective franchisees, they focus on what types of role activities match their skills and interests. They spend considerable time asking questions about what hours the person wants to work, what types of activities they want to do at work, and what they see their desired role being long term (once the business stabilizes after the initial growth period).
Then, and only then, will a good consultant even begin to consider individual franchise businesses as potential matches. Whether you use a consultant to help you with this process or just do it yourself, the exercise is invaluable for finding your passion and finding the franchise that fits your needs.
Jeff Elgin has almost 20 years of experience franchising, both as a franchisee and a senior franchise company executive. He's currently the CEO of FranChoice Inc., a company that provides free consulting to consumers looking for a franchise that best meets their needs.