Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
Brenda Carlson assumed that being a franchisee for The Entrepreneur’s Source, a business coaching franchise, would come naturally for her. After all, she had been very successful in her previous career in education. However, to succeed as a franchisee, Carlson realized she had to grow personally before she grew professional. Here's how she did it, and how she's teaching others to do the same.
Name: Brenda Carlson
Franchise owned: The Entrepreneur’s Source in Minneapolis.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I started a dog-boarding business from scratch when I was younger. I worked very hard, painting my 9’x12’ Puppy Dog Palace, building five small pens inside and soliciting my first boarder. Imagine my surprise when a lanky Irish Settler clambered out of the car and into the Dog Palace – he could step from one of my little pens to the next!
Now, at this stage of my career, I wanted a business of my own, but did not have the time or the energy to struggle through those mistakes of business start-up again. When I learned about the systems already created which allowed me to reach cash flow more quickly and spend most of my time doing what I do best, franchising simply made sense.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
My career has centered around education, teaching all ages from toddlers to grandparents, and later progressing into educational leadership. I like to say I’ve been developing people all my life – and now I am developing business owners.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
My franchise business coach helped me to understand that a business is merely a vehicle to help me achieve my own goals and dreams. As I learned about a variety of businesses, my personal and career goals came into clearer focus. This is the business that allows me to achieve those goals – freedom to travel around the country, flexibility to spend time with my family and income that is directly related to my efforts.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Although the fees and opening costs have likely changed since I opened ten years ago, I estimate that my spending totaled about $60,000.
Franchise fee - $45,000
Training (including travel expenses for two) – $4,000
Office set up (equipment, software, technology fees) - $9,000
Business starting expenses (insurances, state filing fees, etc.) - $2,000
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I worked with a franchise business coach from The Entrepreneur’s Source and followed her recommendations. My husband and I worked closely together, both to clearly articulate our goals and to consider how the various businesses might allow us to achieve our goals.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Both Scott and I were working when we opened our business. It was difficult to split our time, energy and brain-power between our jobs and the excitement of our new business – I don’t recommend that strategy, by the way.
I had experienced much success in my prior life and assumed that success would come easily in my new role as well. When I didn’t meet my own expectations, I struggled with lack of confidence. I worked very diligently to grow myself first and ultimately, that personal growth positively impacted my business.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Use the services of an alternative career business coach. Not only can they help you clarify your own goals and dreams, they’ve also been down the path before you and can help with perspective on the world of franchising.
Remember that the business is simply a vehicle. You don’t need to be passionate about the business – be passionate about what the business does for you.
Consider this quote by Henry David Thoreau: “We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.” Get all the information you need and then take that leap of faith necessary to your success.
Business ownership is an exercise in personal development. Committing to a business requires that you commit to your own personal growth and development. It’s not easy, but it is so worth it.
What’s next for you and your business?
My husband and I have a strategic plan for our businesses that goes out thirty years. We work toward that vision every year, every quarter, every month and every week. That focus has allowed us to exceed our goals in the past. We will continue to plan our work and work our plan to continue to grow personally and professionally.
Related: Franchise Owners: Tell Us Your Story