The likelihood of success is 50/50. For example, if you leave a finance environment you’ll be very good at numbers and are likely to have a greater understanding of what the key KPIs are for business. You’ll understand profitability and what the turnover needs are too.
However, you won’t necessarily have the skills of how to market the business, to engage and communicate with people effectively or manage a team, for example.
If the franchise comes with all the necessary systems, processes and structures then you have a far better chance of success. Importantly, if you acknowledge you have a skills gap, you can work towards bridging that gap. Acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses is very important in moving into a franchise if you’re from a corporate background.
It’s important for you to be upfront and understand what your levels of knowledge are in that particular industry. If you don’t have a good understanding of an industry you’re going into, the first thing you have to do is get that knowledge. If you don’t know anything about the person you’re selling to, then it’ll be very difficult to take a franchise and actually make it work in that environment.
How do I test my business strengths?
The easiest way to test your business strengths is to jump into the business and see what you’re good at doing and where you fail. I find personality appraisals give you a good guide, but a competency-based review process is more critical, as it gives you the exact detail as to how you will behave in a particular environment.
What’s important is that you sit down beforehand and spend some time with an experienced individual to really understands where you are currently, what behaviours are working for you and what behaviours wouldn’t necessarily work for you in the business.
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How important is business acumen?
If you have very good business acumen and a good range of skills, you will be successful. Looking at a franchise and saying, “Do I have the right skills?” is a great place to start as you can then work to bridge those gaps.
If you don’t have the business acumen, looking at a franchise that has a lot of really good grounded systems would be very useful because you’ll be able to follow the process and learn very quickly what is good and what is not so good in terms of your behaviour in the business.
Also, look at the franchise you’re going into, some franchisors are looking for lots of business acumen, others aren’t really interested as they want to mould you into part of their brand.
If I’m a corporate manager, does that mean I’ll be a good franchise boss?
Everybody is a Smartie box. Within a given environment you may be very effective, be that a bank, a car dealership or in a larger holding company. Working in a small franchise is very different.
It’s an environment where you have to work on a lot more skills; you’ve got to be a lot more hands-on and it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to have a team of people who will be able to run around you and do all the work for you. You’ll need to be a jack of all trades.
Will it make a big difference if I’m more of a back office person than front of house?
Again it comes down to where your gaps lie. A people person will be focused on doing the sale and it’s highly likely that they will not be focused on the administration of the business.
A back office person is, generally speaking, a person who likes to crunch numbers and get the admin right, but won’t necessarily get the sales through the door. What’s important for you is where you sit in that spectrum, and how you bridge that gap. Do you hire people or put a plan in place to adapt your own skills and become better at sales.