Who’s having the last laugh now?

Who’s having the last laugh now? I’ve always loved this saying and it’s various versions. He who laughs last laughs longest, or having the last laugh. There’s something about the mindset of the entrepreneur who has yet to make it who says “well done to you, but thinks it’s gonna be him or her in the future”. By firmly believing that you’ll have the last laugh your inner confidence shines through. This mindset also means you can enjoy everyone else’s successes, you’re never jealous or envious because you’re going to they there too. It’s just a matter of time.

This article isn’t about vengeance or proving people wrong, as sweet a feeling as that may be. It’s about business confidence and your belief that no matter what you’ll succeed. As a early stage entrepreneur you must have that belief. Possessing the confidence to ignore your tiny office filled with eBay specials, these are a mere stepping stone to other things. Look at them fondly, they represent your beginning not your end. Not even your mid point actually. Your humble beginnings and lowly turnover don’t matter because your fledgling business is going to take flight. It might be a long and hard runway and a low flight to start with but your positive mindset and the certainty of a profitable outcome will see you reach great heights.

Potentially others doubt you. Maybe they think you’re doomed to failure. Maybe some would love to see you fail. But the unpalatable truth is that no one really cares, apart from your spouse and parents. It has been said that comparison is the thief of joy. Comparing yourself to others is a futile waste of time. You have more important things to be thinking about. For example, create a vision board, or a PowerPoint slideshow of what you’d love to achieve. No words just pictures. Don’t worry about how to get there, just get the pictures in. A few suggestions, Maybe you’ll have one that symbolises good health. One for your happy marriage with your spouse (hopefully the one you’re with now!) Your pets too. Another for what your future house looks like, or car or boat. Another for your business premises or a map with lots of location markets on it. If you want a certain watch then find a pic of it and add it to the vision board.

You’ll notice these aren’t financial images of lots of money. Or a big cheque. These are images of your personal well being and assets. The money is simply a conduit to what you’re aiming for, it will sort itself out if you aim for the pictures you’ve included. Try and imagine how it’ll feel. How many average clients will your new business need to achieve this? Get a blank piece of paper, or a blank word document and write “business plan” on it. Write the number of clients down that your 2nd hand Ferrari might need, is it 50 clients at £1350 for example? What do you need to do to get those 50 clients? Write it down step by step by step. Now stop right there and focus on the doing not the talking or typing. Get going with it!

When people ask what you do tell them you’ve started a new widget business and are growing it into an [insert outcome]. Do they need any widgets? Know anyone who does? Never stop selling, remember your Ferrari needs 50 clients. Be unshakable in your focus and tenacity chasing what you need to do. You’ll have the last laugh. 

Home office setup

Since we’re all working from home now, a good home office setup matters. Thankfully I have a room in my home which is ideal as a home office.

Get somewhere out of the way

Find somewhere that is quiet, functional and out of the way. This I would say is the most important thing about working from home. Being able to shut the door on your workspace at the end of the day is important. The picture above is a garage conversion at my previous home. It worked a treat and cost about £3,000 to do. But if you have a smaller space as I do in my current pad, so long as it fits a desk or two you can make it your own space easily!

Get a camera

Video conferencing used to be a bit of a cop out. Zoom is now part of my daily life in my home office setup. I have an external Cinema Display for my MacBook and when I was at home I plugged the MacBook into it. After being enforced into working from home I bought a Mac mini and using iCloud basically duplicated my MacBook onto that. All my MacBook files went into dropbox completing eliminating the need for any desktop files. I figured that dropbox and iCloud were more secure than an external drive at home. The cinema display has an iSight camera and gives me a lot of screen real estate to have multiple windows open.

Use IMAP

Imap is a clever thing, by making sure your email is setup using imap you can seamlessly switch from your phone to your desktop to your laptop and everything is the same. So because of Imap I can start dealign with emails on my phone while having a cup of tea in bed if I want to!

Daylite CRM

All my contacts and email history is stored in market circle’s Daylite CRM. It’s also on my iPad Pro and my iPhone Pro. Everything syncs to the Daylite cloud and so my phone, iPad, laptop and desktop are always seamlessly showing the same thing.

Comfortable chair

Having spent a long time on my cheap amazon chair I would like to encourage you to spend more than you had in mind on a chair! It might be one of the main things in your home office setup. Enough said!

Mix it up

In my top floor office I brought some of our exhibition stools and a bistro table to put at one end of the room. This means I can go and sit on them for a while. I can then also go back to my desk. If I have a call coming up that I know will be a reasonable length then I’ll plug in my ear phones and talk while I walk along the river side where I live. Keep moving or you’ll seize up!

Business Bank Accounts

Oh my god!

Opening a business bank account has always been tedious. So when my Son and I launched our new marketing agency (www.developingbrands.co.uk) we contacted Yorkshire bank, thought I’d give them a try. 

Actually you end up with Clydesdale bank. But I filled the form in online and waited. I waited some more and eventually a large letter arrived asking me to post them some documents. It’s not really an online application then is it? I was also supposed to click on a link in an email which just didn’t work. After much faffing about trying to get the link to work exasperated … and to cut a long story short … I gave up!

Back to square 1

There’s a tendency these days for big companies to hide their phone number. Maybe big banks don’t want to speak to their customers? After much a do I found the number for the Harrogate branch of HSBC and rang them up. “Can I pop in please, bring all my stuff and open a business bank account. Don’t need a loan or overdraft just a bank account.” The answer whilst not entirely a surprise did peev me somewhat: “Im afraid no one can see you for 3 weeks”.

So, I rang Natwest, this is no easy task either. Go on have a go yourself and see how long it takes them to answer the phone and then how long it takes you to actually go and see someone in a branch. Anyway, after a similar experience to HSBC I bailed out of that application too.

So I went online again and found Tide.com. Lets try a challenger bank I thought. The sign up process was indeed very quick. All good so far. I downloaded the App and tried to do anything with it. It just said “no messages” and literally nothing else to click on. No communication for a week, didn’t have a clue what was happening. Emailed them and they happily said I’d get a call back. No call was received! After much chasing and then validating the account it was a success.

We’ve been using Tide for sometime now and it works a treat. The App is now great and although its not free banking quite frankly anything was better than the hurdles put it in front of me from the big boys. 

Franchise Staff Recruitment

Franchise Staff Recruitment has now got easier. Finding the right people to help you on your franchising journey is a constant challenge that many of Lime Licensing Groups clients struggle with. Good people are hard to find. 

franchise jobs

I like to think that I am a solution provider as much as a consultant. So, Lime Licensing Group has come up with a great service to help franchisors with their franchise staff recruitment challenges. It’s a new business called, wait for it … FranchiseStaff! Click on the hyperlink to view the website. 

It’s got a green logo of course since that’s my favourite colour and it’s part of the Lime Licensing family.  

Access to all executive job boards

We’ve got a strategic relationship with a very large recruitment company that gives us access to all major job boards. This means that by working with FranchiseStaff every candidate that is available is likely to be found. No individual consultant can match our reach because of that.

To find out more about FranchiseStaff contact me on 07782 115993 and let’s have a chat about how we can help you.

free marketing plan

7 steps to a free marketing plan

Franchise owners, just like non franchise owners need to apply sound small business skills to what they are doing.

A common statement I hear is that marketing is too expensive. #Rubbish. If you’re a local business you can spread the word about your business without expense. Get busy and do the following at least:

Free marketing plan for a local business

  1. Social Media engagement. Get set up on all of them but as an absolute minimum. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. Pinterest if you have time.
  2. Local free directories. Type in “free business listing [your town] and you’ll be inundated with websites offering free marketing. Get your details on there and try and include a link back to your website.
  3. Human Mail Shot. You know where your customers are so get walking and knock on doors. “Hi, I have just set up a new widget business, I live locally to you and I think I could give you a better deal, where do you get your widgets from at the moment? “
  4. Direct Mail. As above but post through letterboxes, residential or commercial. £50 on Vistaprint could get you 1000 leaflets. You don’t need to put a stamp on them you can just get walking
  5. Trading what you do for publicity. Lets say you’re a florist for example. You’d like to be at a wedding fair that costs £250 but you don’t have £250. You could however afford to give the organiser a fresh bouquet of flowers every week. £250 at retail might only cost you £75 at wholesale price. Trade your £250 worth of flowers for a free stand at the show. I have done deals just like this all my life!
  6. Recommend each other. If you sell business consultancy then why not recommend an accountant to your clients? The accountant can then recommend you in exchange. Win/Win. You could probably set up 10 of these right away!
  7. ABC – My initials but actually stands for “Always be closing”. It’s a Sunday and you’re at a neighbours bar-be-que. Someone there could be client of yours? I have sold franchises worth £50k at neighbours bar-be-ques – truly I have! Get talking and suggest to people that they could be dealing with you. If it’s not for them sow a seed a different way, e.g. “I run a local charity for lost cats, do you know anyone who might be interested in working with us”?
  8. If you don’t fancy it get a professional marketing agency to help you like www.developingbrands.co.uk

Franchise Seminars & The Paparazzi

Actually I do like the franchise media and over many years now have some lovely friendships in place. Last week I was speaking at the International Franchise Exhibition delivering one of my franchise seminars. It was entitled “The Idiots guide to franchising any business”. The seminar room was full at 60 people which was a relief. You do wonder sometimes if anyone is going to turn up!

Franchise Seminars are a bit unusual I think. There’s no way you can deliver a lot of information in a short period of time so you’re options are basically to crack on and fly through as much as possible or cut the content short. I went for a fast paced 45 minutes and packed in as much as I could. 

Following the seminar I was interviewed by Franchise Direct to discuss Lime Licensing Group and it’s services to the franchise industry. A piece to camera which will be on Youtube in due course I expect.

Franchise Seminars

The International franchise show was over two days at the Excel centre and had a lot of different franchise seminars for visitors to choose from. It’s a great opportunity for me to meet a lot of industry colleagues and have a few socials with various people. Definitely a work hard, play hard weekend!

Important tips when buying a franchise resale

Let’s assume you’re in the market for a small ongoing concern costing around £25k

Is the seller cashing out for genuine reasons? Get that question answered first and foremost. You have to know why it’s for sale. Whatever answer you are given you then need to satisfy yourself that it is genuine. 

Next, you’ve gotta love the Franchisor. You’ll most likely have to meet them anyway as they’re the only ones who can grant the license. But you’ll be working with them, closer than you might think. So make sure you’re going to get along!

Next check the franchise agreement. How long is left? Technically all you can buy is the unexpired term if the agreement so it’s a good idea to check if the Franchisor will grant you a full term should you go ahead and buy it. 

Next ring a random selection of the current franchisee network. Be sure to ask them how many they know of who have failed. You can use the wayback machine to check the franchisors website two years ago and see who was in the network then. Speaking to an ex franchisee is always a great way to discover some home truths. But don’t believe the whingers, they might not be accurate in what they are saying. I’ve often found that failed franchisees hardly ever confess that it was their fault, it’s usually everyone elses fault. They can’t all be right! Once you’ve spoke to a few you can work out which comments have merit from those that don’t.

Check the legal agreement and if you’re not too savvy with these things yourself, as most aren’t, get professional advice on it. The franchise agreement is one document, you’ll need either a termination agreement or a novation agreement to assign the rights over to you or your company.

Halve your forecasts and double your costs. It’s more of a saying than a precise strategy but as my Dad used to say if the bottom line looks good when you under estimate sales and overstate costs then you’re probably going to be ok. #Oracle

Next find someone who’ll throw cold water over you. Metaphorically speaking that is. It’s good to speak to someone who’ll give you a reality check. Whilst we’re on this subject be sure to get the backing of your wife/husband/significant other. You don’t want any arguments down the line … “I told you so” etc

We’re getting serious now so whatever price the buyer wants you need to agree a lower one if you can. Or have a go at deferring some of the price, or paying for it out of future profits. 

Next, register your details here and I’ll let you know when the blog about funding a franchise opportunity is posted.

Thanks go too Dogancan Ozturan for the photo which we got from Unsplash

International Franchise Show 2019

Excel Centre 5th & 6th April

I’ll be working on Lime Licensing Groups stand which is No. 782 located by the seminar theatre dedicated to franchise suppliers. Come and have a listen to my seminar on “franchising any business” which aims to be a basic guide to the main considerations when franchising any business. 

Why a great slogan is one of your best business assets.

“Open 23.5 hours per day”. What does that say to you? I forget where I saw it but it was decades ago and I still remember it today. Choosing a great slogan gives customers a different view of who you are and what you do. A great slogan is one of your best business assets. It also allows founders to unveil a bit about the personalities behind the brand.

Business Assets Slogans and Strap Lines

You’ve tried the Cowboys, now try the Indians.

Patel & Singh Builders pulled off this master stroke of a strap line and I for one would probably hire them based on that alone! To me it not only shows a fun side but it also says they’ll do a great job. Builders work in an industry that often lacks credibility. Something about this slogan builds trust. 

A lot less bovver than a hover.

Can you remember the brand name? Maybe not, but if you are of a certain age you’ll already know what this refers to. It was the slogan that shifted an entire industry away from hover mowers. Out of all the tangible business assets that Qualcast owned this slogan was probably the most valuable. I don’t think they ever trade marked it either! Probably didn’t need to. 

“Fluent in Franchising”.

Three words that convey a certain level of expertise. If you were to be hiring a franchise consultancy this is what you would want isn’t it? Fluency. It says they know everything. It’s a great choice of words that Lime Licensing Group has used for over a decade. 

The Rastafarian Therapist. 

My wife and I were laying on a beach in Barbados when a Rastafarian walked up to us. He introduced himself and asked if we’d like a foot massage. We didn’t look interested until he said “I’m known as Dr Goodfoot”. I’ve long since forgotten his actual name but Dr Goodfoot has stuck in my mind ever since. His brilliant strap line got our business and it made us smile! He probably still uses it today as he wanders up and down the beautiful Maxwell beach. 

So what does your business slogan say about you? 

Do you even have a slogan? What do your potential and actual customers really want? To create one write down the most important elements that your clients value. Or the main issue you solve. How can you turn those words into a short message that resonates with them? Get your thinking cap on and push out a slogan. It can be fun, informative or just relevant. 

This is one of the business assets you can create yourself but if your struggling then any branding agency will help you for a fee. Be sure to put the time in to do it – because you’re worth it! (Credit L’Oreal)

Side Gigs

The problem with side gigs

It’s the first of February and in my industry at least January is always a mental month. Despite that I have managed to keep improving the two sites I’m experimenting with. Both are getting better as each week rolls by. I’ve made good progress in the first month.

New things take longer

It’s been interesting tracking down various broken links and wordpress issues. A bit of a nightmare if you don’t know what you are doing. However, I do now know what I’m doing! Ish! I found that my broken link checker told me links were broken even when they weren’t. Also the new Gutenburg editor doesn’t really like my Spicepress theme! The famous WordPress 5 minute install is anything but 5 minutes in my case. Took me ages to install from scratch onto a new domain.

You dont have the time you think!

Worse of all however is the problem with actually allowing the time to learn a new skill or run a side gig. I have intentionally restricted this to my spare time so that my full time career is full on. There in lies the problem. After a full time day I’m honestly lacking in motivation to do anything other than flunk out on the sofa. It seems easy in theory, an hour here or an hour there. Shouldn’t be too much of an issue but it is. 

If you are thinking of doing a side gig I think this is the biggest issue you’ll face. I class myself as a hard worker but the problem with side gigs or online learning is the most obvious one. It’s time, and when you put that time into your side gig or learning as I am doing. That also means you will have to be realistic with what you can achieve with the time you’ve got available.

A cinch by the inch, hard by the yard

What has worked with me is small chunks of time. So I’ll finish at 5pm and then do a 30 minute block on Lynda.com. On a saturday I’ll do an hour if Debs is out. Bit by bit it’s taking shape. Alas availability of time really is the problem with side gigs.