Vista print Small Business Checklist

Courtesy of Vistaprint

Bo Bennett said, "When it comes to success, there are no shortcuts." I have to respectfully disagree. Here's why.

A franchise, by its very nature, IS a shortcut. When you buy a franchise, you automatically skip 11 of the 22 steps above that are required to start a small business. That's 50% of the work already done for you.

It isn't the fact that half of that work is already done for you, but rather the most important steps to stacking the cards in your favor are done for you.

Developing an idea and testing the plausibility.

If you were going to create your own product or service, how would you go about this? Coming up with an idea is one thing, but developing it is a much more complex step. If you are an experienced product developer with a product of moderate complexity, experts suggest getting your first concept prototype will take 3 months and then another 6-9 months to actually create a working prototype.

Or maybe you're thinking of something less complicated like a pool cleaning service or a doggy daycare. You still need to consider how you will differentiate your business from those that already exist in your market. Then you need to figure out a way to test it to see if your differentiation really matters to prospective customers.

This is already done for you with a franchise.

When you buy a franchise, the franchisor has already developed the idea, tested it, identified the target market and created your business plan for you.

  • They have proof of concept in the locations that are already up and running.
  • If it's a brick and mortar business, they can tell you what type of location is needed to be successful.
  • They know how much it costs to get started -- and they share this with you before you buy from them.
  • They give you the professionally created marketing materials.
  • They develop your website.
  • You will be on Page 1 of Google much faster under the franchisor's umbrella than if you build your own website. Plus, when you're starting a new business you really don't have all the time it takes (assuming you have the know-how) to develop your SEO (search engine optimization). and keyword strategy, create content, etc.
  • The franchisor has the resources to help you. Plus, those resources are specifically related to the exact business you are entering, not generic business advice or even experience in a similar business. It is the exact business that you will own. Have an idea? Run it by them. Chances are someone in the network has tried it and you can benefit from their experience.
  • You'll likely find your mentor from among the current owner network. Again, not a general business mentor but someone who has been exactly where you are.

Your franchisor will also advise you on

  • The type and amount of insurance you'll need.
  • The permits and licenses you'll need.
  • Setting up your books.

That leaves you with registering your business name, opening your doors and providing exceptional customer service.

  • Registering your business. There are plenty of companies who will do this for you, for a fee. But it's actually simple to do on your own. The SBA offers an explanation of what you need to do here.
  • Opening your doors. This will vary depending on whether you're a brick and mortar business or running a business from your home. (Yes there are many franchises that you can run from your home... on a full time or part time basis.)
    If you're opening a brick and mortar business, you'll likely have a Grand Opening. And guess what? The franchisor has a plan for you for that too!
  • Providing exceptional customer service. Your franchisor will have recommendations on how to do this, but ultimately this will be on you and your team.

Is Bo Bennett right? Or am I right? Are there no shortcuts to success? Or is a franchise a shortcut to success?