I'm Not a Risk Seeker – But I Am an Entrepreneur
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unlike many entrepreneurs, Leslie Kuban doesn’t describe herself as a risk seeker or an inventor. Instead, she says she is results-driven and organized, with a knack for executing an established game plan. That’s why she chose to enter the franchising industry. Here’s what she’s learned as a FranNet franchisee.
Name: Leslie Kuban
Franchise owned: FranNet in Atlanta, Ga.
How long have you owned a franchise?
My franchise ownership career began in 1996 with Mail Boxes Etc. in Marietta, Ga. It was a great experience, but I came to realize that a retail setting was not the optimal environment for my skills and personality. As a FranNet franchise owner, I’m using all my talents and just surpassed my 16 year anniversary!
I’m not an inventor or a risk seeker. I am results-driven, organized and great at executing and improving upon a plan that already has some degree of traction. Owning a business through good franchise systems has been a good fit for me; I can grow and make the decisions I believe are best while also having the benefit of the collective intelligence and experience of my franchisor and fellow franchisees. The ROI is a clear winning situation in a franchise system. I’ve been able to scale a larger business than I would have independently, experienced a shorter learning curve at a lower personal risk. Lastly, it’s fun! I’ve made some amazing friends through FranNet.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was fresh out of college when I began with Mail Boxes Etc. at 23 years old. Getting a job at a big company was never a path I explored. I’ve always been very independent and did not envy the lives of my peers entering the corporate machine after college. My parents were business owners so I was predisposed to the life path of self-employment. I’m grateful to have had that example from my family.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
My strengths are teaching, marketing and business development. I really enjoy being a subject matter expert and helping people through a life-altering journey. Travel is my passion, so having a lot of flexibility and control of my time is really important to me, as is meeting my financial goals. The FranNet model allows for scale beyond a one-person show so the business builder in me has been able to stretch her legs, too. These objectives and criteria have all been met through owning a FranNet office. My first experience with franchise ownership did not afford me these benefits so I was keenly aware of what to look for the second time around.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Back in 1999, the startup of a FranNet office was very simple. I was open for business the day I returned from training. Getting open cost around $10,000. When factoring in marketing costs and working capital, it was around a $50,000 investment to reach profitability.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
My father and his prior business and franchise ownership experience played a big role in helping me assess the FranNet opportunity. I spoke with several other FranNet consultants who candidly talked about the challenges and rewards of the franchise consulting business. I was well informed when I made the decision to move forward with FranNet.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I knew going in that to be successful you have to keep a lot of plates spinning simultaneously – marketing, administration, and giving clients their needed time and attention. The scope of each of those functions was more than I anticipated and I was overwhelmed. If I could start over again, I would have hired part-time administrative help from day one.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
It’s important to be clear and specific about what talents you can bring into your business ownership career. Some franchise models require a lot of outbound sales and marketing activity from the owner. Others rely more on self-promoting marketing strategies such as a visible storefront or direct mail advertising to grow the customer base but require that you manage and lead a larger number of employees. It’s easy to confuse loving the idea of owning a particular kind of business with loving what it takes to own and grow that particular franchise concept. Your passion for owning a business can dissolve quickly if you realize that you do not enjoy or simply cannot do what is needed to execute the business model.
What’s next for you and your business?
I’m still in growth mode. I’ve recently added additional support staff and will look to add another sales consultant or two in the next year. I’m currently seeing more multigenerational clients than I ever had before; baby boomer parents are looking for a bridge to retirement and millennial young adults are looking to secure their business future through entrepreneurship. It’s fascinating to see how vastly different these generations are in their values and approach to life and business. I’m working on adjusting my marketing messaging and client delivery systems to accommodate their desire to combine their talents and their differences. It’s an exciting time indeed!