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Stop Running Your Franchise Like a Circus! It might make the difference between becoming a second-rate sideshow or the greatest show on Earth.

By Scott Greenberg

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Scott Greenberg's The Wealthy Franchisee: Game-Changing Steps to Becoming a Thriving Franchise Superstar will be released via Entrepreneur Press on November 17. It can be preodered via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Step right up to witness with your very own eyes: the wildest, most breathtaking, most death-defying feat a human being has ever performed. I give you — franchise business ownership!"

While that might be a bit overstated, there's no doubt running a business is a risky endeavor without much of a safety net. That's why one big reason for buying into a franchise is to mitigate this risk by embracing a brand with proven, replicable success. But even with those established systems at their disposal, some franchise owners don't achieve the success they could. Usually, it's because instead of leading like ringmasters, they run their operation like circus performers, engaging in counterproductive behaviors that limit their results. Here are a few daredevil routines best left to the literal big-top talent.

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Tightrope Walking

Tightrope walkers work up there all alone. They rely entirely on themselves. One bad move, and game over. That's what happens when franchisees deviate from the proven system. By stepping away from brand standards and going rogue, they subject themselves to the very risk they paid to avoid in the first place. The whole point of buying a franchise is to work in partnership with those who can keep you safe. It's about collaboration, working for yourself, but not by yourself. Best to stay on the ground with those who know what they're doing and are there to help.


With so much to do, it's tempting to do it all yourself. That split focus makes it hard to excel. Doing too much prevents you from investing time in the areas of your business that matter most. The franchise model is all about systems and replication. It's about training a team to work in the business so you can work on the business. A good owner or manager invests more time doing fewer, more important things. Let others take care of the minutiae. Train them to run the business so you can focus on growing it.

Lion Taming

Many franchise owners see themselves as lion tamers. They're always on the lookout for problems, threats and mistakes. Their negative, fear-based approach to business blinds them to opportunities. It also prevents them from leading their teams well. They discourage and tame their employees into submission by focusing solely on what they're doing wrong. For criticism to be constructive, it must be combined with praise. Employees want recognition. Solve problems, but keep your eyes open for everything going right in your business, too. Look for good things and seek out ways to make them even better. And instead of subduing your employees, develop them into strong, fierce leaders who will protect and grow your business.


When things get tough, many franchise owners start making dire predictions about everything that might happen. They worry sales will fall off or that the business will die. Psychologists call this "catastrophizing." It's imagining the worst possible things that might unfold. While you need to act when there are problems, your conclusions shouldn't be based on what you guess, envision or imagine. They should be based on data. Instead of looking at a crystal ball, look at your sales reports, your P&L and other data. Worry less about what might happen and concentrate more on what is happening. Keep a clear head and focus on the facts.

Clowning Around

After running the business for a while, some business owners get complacent. They disengage from operations. They leave things to employees with less supervision. They get comfortable with sales. By taking your business less seriously, you leave it vulnerable. We live in disruptive times. Things are constantly changing. Economic and political environments are in flux. Consumer tastes evolve. The competition is always creeping around and innovating. To protect what you have, you can't let your guard down. Keep investing in your business. Look for ways to improve it. Never let up, because business is no joking matter.

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Your franchisor can give you the operations manual, but they can't control how you perform. Ultimately, you're the star of the show. If you want to be a leader in the bigtop, be mindful of what you bring to your business. Be smart, be clear, and be serious. It might make the difference between becoming a second-rate sideshow or the greatest show on Earth.

Scott Greenberg

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Franchise Expert, Speaker & Author

Scott Greenberg designs game-changing steps to grow businesses, build high-performing teams and create unforgettable customer experiences. For ten years Scott was a multi-unit, award-winning franchise owner with Edible Arrangements. His operation won international recognition: "Best Customer Service" and "Manager of the Year," out of more than 1000 locations worldwide. Today he's a sought-after international speaker, consultant and franchise coach, with clients that include McDonalds, Great Clips, GNC, RE/MAX, Smoothie King, Global Franchise Group and countless other companies in all 50 U.S. states and throughout the world. He's also a VIP Contributing Writer for Going beyond numbers and profits, Scott delves into the human-side of business to help organizations boost performance and make a memorable impact on the lives of customers and employees. Scott is the bestselling author of The Wealthy Franchisee (2020), as well as his newest book Stop the Shift Show (2024).

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