Even though Dylan Harper is only 19, he's already had three years of experience working with Razzamataz Theater School. When he purchased his franchise just before his 18th birthday, Razzamataz seemed like a natural fit, due to his two years of experience and love for kids and the performing arts. While some aspects of being a young entrepreneur have taken getting used to, such as managing his staff, one year in, Harper has managed to find major success through franchising. Here's what he's learned as one of the few franchisees in the world who have yet to hit age 20.
Name: Dylan Harper
Franchise owned: Razzamataz Theater Schools Ayrshire, Scotland
How long have you owned a franchise?
Working with Razzamataz head office since the age of 16 has given me a real insight into the whole of the Razzamataz network and I felt very strongly that having my own franchise would allow me to reap the benefits of running a business working with young people but with the support of a very experienced organization behind me.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Before I became a franchise owner I had just left school by a year and was working for Razzamataz Head Office as well as being a freelance youth worker and adviser.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I chose this particular franchise because of my love of working with children and the performing arts, as well as the support and determination of the head office support team especially the Managing Director who has become a close personal business mentor.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Franchise Fee: £9,900 plus VAT (value-added tax)
Travel Costs to training and expenses for week: £500
Initial marketing: £3000 plus VAT
Office Equipment: £600
Insurance and licenses: £500
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I got support from the Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust (I am their youngest ever supported client) who gave me impartial advice on the franchise, as well as from the franchisors Discovery Dens. As well as speaking to existing franchisees as well as my mum who had worked for the company longer than I.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
How difficult it was to negotiate good prices on advertising, as well as the amount of discipline you need to run the business during the week. I also didn’t expect the challenges of managing staff, I just assumed everybody would love me and want to work for me!
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Trust your gut! It is important to get others thoughts however if you think you’ve found a great franchise to invest in then go for it! Make sure you do all your research and due diligence first, I took over a year from my initial discussions to actually purchasing my franchise just before my 18th birthday. Also don’t let anyone you can’t do something, if you set your mind to something you’ll surprise even yourself – trust me I didn’t believe how quickly I could turn the business around and be employing five people and about to employ a sixth who will be full term within the next few weeks.
What’s next for you and your business?
Well the last year has been fantastic I’ve secured major press coverage, won awards, been accepted into the world's largest business accelerator programmer, pitched in front a billionaire philanthropist and been called ‘remarkable young entrepreneur’ by one of Scotland’s biggest entrepreneurial names – Duncan Bannatyne; so I think next we want more of that! I am also wanting to see my current outlet grow and then open multiple outlets within the region. My long term goal is to become Regional Franchisee.