The thought of working for yourself can be an alluring one. You're the boss and make the decisions. The overall strategic direction and vision of the company is your responsibility. You hire, fire, cut checks, pay vendors, manage financials, handle customer disputes, quell employee concerns and represent the public facing image of your brand. Sure, you have freedom, but it's a full-time job peppered with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Every day you give it your all. Through blood, sweat, tears and, in most cases, by tapping into every available source of funding, strength and courage, you do whatever it takes to keep the ship afloat and on course.
Every day, thousands of entrepreneurs take the plunge into small business ownership. Many of them start their own business, but a growing majority see the benefits of a proven system and, often times, start their search for freedom with a few key strokes in a Google search bar: "franchises for under $50K”. The franchise model is appealing for many reasons. For one, it works. Franchises are far less likely to fail than startups. You're basically buying a system. Follow the system and you'll be successful. You also get training and support from the franchisor. They want you to succeed. Most have negotiated deals and discounts with vendors, allowing you to minimize startup and variable expenses. You also reap the benefit of a marketing program, training, CRM system, and ongoing support. There are many advantages of becoming a franchisee with one major caveat. Make sure you get into the RIGHT franchise. That's where Heidi Simos, business owner with The Entrepreneur's Source franchise, comes into play. By using various educational tools such as questionnaires, behavioral assessments and individualized coaching, Simos will work with her clients to identify franchises that are a good match.
"Many of my clients are in a career transition,” Simos said. “They may be unhappy with their job or interested in exploring business ownership. My clients begin their journey by first completing a short questionnaire, which we review together. I learn about their strengths and what they like to do. We then move onto the DiSC Profile Assessment, which uncovers their behavior style.
Next, we engage in a coaching call where we discuss their needs, goals and expectations. Once I've gathered the necessary information, I research my database to identify three franchise opportunities that match the client’s criteria. At this time, they will be introduced to one of our expert funding partners to begin their education on funding options. Because franchises are a proven system, it’s typically easier to acquire funding for them versus starting a business from scratch.
Following the funding phase, we enter the discovery phase where clients have the opportunity to dig a little deeper by speaking with each representative of the franchise to learn about their business model. After their first phone meeting, we debrief and determine if they would like to explore the business further.
Eventually, we narrow the search down to one opportunity then head to the validation stage, which gives the client the chance to speak with existing franchisees to learn about their experience. Approximately 95% of clients move forward with a business concept that they would have never thought of on their own or would have dismissed prematurely."
Simos became a business owner with The Entrepreneur's Source in September 2015. Prior to educating people on business ownership, Simos owned and operated eight learning center franchises throughout Florida. After 10 years in the business, she was recruited by a career college to take on the position of Campus President. It didn't take long for her to realize she was no longer the right fit for a corporate position and missed having the independence and flexibility of being her own boss. By chance she was introduced to a business woman who turned her on to The Entrepreneur Source. Simos loved the concept and immediately saw the potential.
"I really enjoy working with my clients and knowing that I'm part of changing their lives," she said. "I love helping them open their minds to new possibilities and push through their fears. We can all live in that safe space, but if you want to grow and achieve greatness, you must have the courage to step out of your comfort zone. It is extremely rewarding to watch them earn their entrepreneurial wings and take flight."
Looking ahead, Simos plans to continue educating individuals on business ownership. Her goal is for people to know that she's a FREE resource. She'll continue her networking efforts with the Palm Coast Chamber of Commerce, conducting speaking engagements with The University of North Florida and working with SCORE.
Simos works with a wide variety of clients, but explained that Veterans, in particular, make great franchisees. “They have a strong work ethic, are service oriented and have robust leadership skills,” she said. “They're also adept at following systems. I've helped many Veterans become entrepreneurs, and it’s an honor and a privilege to assist these men and women.”
What advice does Simos have for those looking to get into small business ownership? "I've watched the whole journey many times," she said. "People get scared, but education and learning helps lessen the fear. Knowledge is power and being informed reduces anxiety. It's also crucial to explore different options to find the right fit. And, keep in mind that a job is just a short- term fix. Getting into your own business is a long-term solution that helps you reach your income, lifestyle, wealth and equity goals."
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