Presidential Secrets

Taking the Leap

"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." -Abraham Lincoln
Inertia is the single greatest foe of the new entrepreneur. It takes a real spark of initiative and get-up-and-go to launch into a franchise search-and-purchase project. To succeed in such an endeavor takes a high level of drive, energy and gumption.

"Don't foul, don't flinch-hit the line hard." -Theodore Roosevelt
Researching also takes a plan and an ability to focus on your goals. If you haven't engaged in a personal planning process, creating a mission statement and listing the actions that will advance that mission, you should do so before you start kicking franchise tires.

"We must ask where we are and whither we are tending." -Lincoln
The reason is simple: If you're not focused on the type of franchised business you want, you'll be distracted, swamped and ultimately defeated by the choices available to you in the franchise arena. Think hard about business ideas that fire your imagination. I have yet to meet a successful franchisee who didn't have a passion for the business he or she owned.

List the businesses you imagine yourself running. Do you enjoy serving customers in a retail setting? Are you comfortable providing services in the homes of your future customers? Or is the B2B sector more appealing?

It's also important that you make a realistic assessment of your financial resources. Check your personal credit report. Talk to your banker; consider asking an accountant for assistance. Confirm your family's financial resources. If good old Aunt Mildred once offered to help back you in business, now is the time to have a heart-to-heart with her to talk specifics. Spend time with your spouse, so you can approach this task with his or her full support. There may be some significant sacrifices involved with buying a business-financial investment as well as a decline in family time.

These questions are more important than whether a particular business at a given location will make money. Sure, it's important the business make money-or it won't be a business for very long-but it's more important over the long term to find the type of business that's right for you. If it's the wrong business, if you're not excited about it day in and day out, you'll grow to hate it over the years.

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Presidential Secrets.

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