Aspiring business owners and the business community should embrace the tried and true franchise business model.
By David Blue
Millennials are known for making things their own. Even in this era of ever-changing ideas and invention, a traditional pattern of young enterprise has begun to emerge: have an idea for a tech start-up — move to Silicon Valley — hope to profit. I broke from that pattern. I am a franchisor.
Unfortunately, the franchise model is not being taught in business schools. Faculty believe that owning a franchise is not entrepreneurship because it lacks “true innovation.” Instead, students are being taught that it’s ok to fail in business rather than succeed with a tried and true business model. That is scary to me. Your business is your livelihood and it can take a decade or more to fully recover from a failure. Not everyone is Elon Musk, so why should that be taught, if not almost encouraged? Franchising is a version of the American dream; you are owning a small business and working hard to make it grow. That is what needs to be taught. To those that say franchising isn’t entrepreneurial or innovative, I say look at what I, and my franchisees, have built.
I got my start while attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I focused on creating ideas that would lead to me owning my own small business after graduation and in 2011, I co-founded Blue Moon Estate Sales USA with my parents. In 2013, we began franchising our brand. This family-owned business is now a successful organization that employs more than 150 people in its 21 locations across America. Following the franchise model has helped me find success – though not everyone sees it that way.
Because franchising is not covered in school, aspiring entrepreneurs in my generation are not even aware that it’s a potential opportunity. They don’t realize that it doesn’t always cost a million dollars to own a franchise, some are as affordable as a car. This lack of knowledge is worrying because millennials are well suited to be successful in franchising. Throughout our lives, we have become quick to adapt to change and familiar with the different technologies that can help a business thrive. For example, one of my youngest franchisees spends the least on advertising, but still has strong sales because she innately understands the value and ways to use social media.
Luckily, knowledge about entrepreneurship isn’t something that is only found in books or school. Most of the learning comes from outside the classroom. To succeed, you must be the Swiss Army knife of your business, learning every aspect from marketing to operations. Knowing all these facets will help you stretch every dollar as far as it can go. Being the millennial that I am, Reddit, an online internet forum, was one of my greatest resources of education. Any question I had, I could find the answer buried in a sub-Reddit or from other Redditors. It has also served me well to find mentors and learn from their franchising experiences. Knowledge can be found anywhere if you’re creative enough to find it and not afraid to ask questions.
It is not just the future of franchising at stake. Too many young entrepreneurs will miss this opportunity if we don’t change the conversation. Franchising is entrepreneurship at its core and should be embraced as a legitimate business model and path to success. I am calling on business schools and business leaders at large to embrace this fact and acknowledge the young franchisees and emerging franchisors who have found success. More importantly, I call on young entrepreneurs to not fall inside the rigid lines of what innovation is supposed to be. Imagine taking a brand you love, building your own franchise business around it, and fulfilling your dreams of never working in a cubicle. The opportunity is there just waiting for you to take it.
Find out more about Blue Moon Estate Sales.
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