Tips for First Time Franchisees

Opening up your own business is an exciting and daunting time, new business owners often feel  overwhelmed at the thought of navigating their way through the countless paperwork, legal documents and contracts. Opening up a new franchise should be an exciting and enjoyable time, to make sure your experience goes smoothly, we’ve compiled a few tips for first time franchisee owners to help you get up and running:

Do your homework

The very first and most important thing you can do before venturing into a new business, is research! You need to do your due diligence to ensure you are making informed decisions before entering into any business contracts. Start by researching how owning and operating a franchise works, and all that is involved with it. You may or may not already have a franchise in mind, either way you should research and find brands that align with your personal values and goals. It is essential you thoroughly research and ask key questions of franchisors. Questions should include:

  • Criteria for accepting new franchisees
  • Initial funds required to open
  • Ongoing fees
  • Companies financial history and current situation
  • Level of initial and ongoing support and resources
  • Expectations of franchise owners

Learn from the ground up

To make a great leader you must have a deep understanding and empathy for your staff experience. Spend a day walking in the shoes of your employees, get involved early and learn how your franchise works from the ground up. You will need to understand the inner workings and processes of your business, so you can run the day to day operation. By working on the ‘front line’ it will give you valuable insights into how your business actually operates, and allows you to test if your systems are working properly.

Seek Guidance & Consult the Experts

Ask the experts, and talk to the people who have experience in the industry. Many people are happy to talk about their experiences and offer advice. This is one of the greatest tools you can utilise before opening your franchise. Start by speaking to people and asking about their experiences and they will offload some valuable insights and knowledge. As well as speaking to experienced franchisees, you will need to seek professional advice. Find yourself a good team of professionals (tax experts, lawyers, advertising agencies etc) to help create a foundation for your business.

Follow your Franchisors Systems

You have chosen to open a franchise, a tried and tested formula with proven success, so it makes sense for you to follow the systems your franchise has in place. Take advantage of all the resources and materials the franchisor provides, making it easier for you to become established and grow your business.

Learn the Basics of Running a Business

For many people who are new to owning businesses, or feel a little nervous they will often opt for a franchise because it is already a proven model, with most things already set up ready to go, minimising their need for business management. If new franchisees rely on this, they will not succeed in their business. It is vital that you learn and understand the basics of running a business. Take the time to learn how the franchise operates, but also take the time to research how businesses work so you can reach the full potential of your new franchise.

Goal Setting for Your Business

The prospect of setting goals as a business owner can be both daunting and exciting. It is exciting to look forward and think about what you want to achieve both personally and as a business over the next 12 months, however the prospect of significant changes and large projects can make the upcoming year seem quite intimidating as well.
We have a few tips and tricks for setting goals that you can implement yourself or share with someone else. These can be great tools if you are a business advisor or in a field manager role, looking to help business owners and franchisees plan their year ahead.

Take a holistic approach
The first thing is, it is important not just to focus on things hat you want to achieve within the business, but consider how you want to grow personally as well. Taking a balanced approach is best with, well, anything in life and this is no exception. Taking the time to think about how you want each part of your life to evolve throughout the year and in what ways these goals align and possibly overlap with each other. Focusing on personal growth can often allow you to achieve more and perform better in other aspect of your life, even in ways that you may not expect.

Put it on paper
Next, it is important to be held accountable. Sharing your goals with others and putting them down on paper gives you a place to reference and remind you where you wanted to go. The psychological impact of writing down goals is significant, with a Harvard study finding those who do so are three times more successful in meeting them. This is due to the way our brain filters messages and activates the Reticular Activating System (RAS).
The RAS aids in classifying incoming messages as urgent and non-urgent and helps us identify opportunities to act based upon that messages. Writing is an effective way of communicating with this RAS function and helps cement goals in our minds, making us more likely to recall and work toward them, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Make SMARTER Goals
This is likely something you have heard before, but we cannot stress the importance of making goals that are thought out and achievable. The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound, and is designed to help people clarify their ideas and spend some time thinking about what they really want to achieve. Some have also suggested adding ‘ER’ the end of the acronym to represent evaluated and reviewed – because it is important to consider things change over time.

It can be quite discouraging to feel like you are working so hard towards a goal that you just can’t seem to meet, and unfortunately that can be the result of unrealistic goal setting. This is why adopting a structured approach can aid in finding the perfect balance between a goal that requires a little stretching but isn’t completely out of reach.

Don’t Use Deadlines
Whilst it may seem counter intuitive, setting hard deadlines for big goals can actually be detrimental to your ability to achieve them. Rather, it is more effective to break down a big project into smaller tasks and work towards those. Big deadlines can become overwhelming and adopt a very ‘all or nothing’ approach. However, by breaking down your goals you can work towards them gradually and even get a boost of motivation by tracking your overall progress.

Be Ready to Accept Failure
Not to bring the mood down, but if nothing the past year has taught us that life can throw you a curve ball at any moment. It is important to be real with yourself that you might not tick of everything on your list, or it may not be in the way you initially thought or the timeframe you decided.
When setting goals it is important to work within spaces that you can control, and acknowledge that even within those spaces outside forces can have an impact. As they say, the only certain thing in life are death and taxes – so make sure that you manage the risks and get real with yourself about what you can and can’t guarantee.

How To Step-Up Your Recruitment Marketing

Talent acquisition is a competitive environment and for organizations looking to secure new team members a thought-out recruitment marketing strategy is vital. Modern recruitment marketing starts above the top of the funnel and doesn’t only involve engaging with applicants, but capturing the attention of anyone who may be considering a new career opportunity.

Attracting qualified talent is the first stage of recruitment marketing, and you don’t just have to be playing in spaces where job seekers look. Expanding your recruitment marketing efforts to capture the attention of high performing individuals who may not be actively seeking a new role broadens your audience and increases the potential of finding a great fit for your team.

Whilst traditionally many people view the recruitment process as a way for applicants to showcase their merits, however now it is just as important (if not more) that the organization sells themselves to prospective employees. Many applicants are considered passive, meaning that they aren’t necessarily scrolling job listings and sending our resumes. However, if you were to create interest in potential opportunities by showcasing your company culture and making yourself a desirable employer you are likely to receive more, and higher quality, applications.

Firstly, we look at how to generate that interest. As an employer you may know all the brilliant things about working at your company, but it is important that you have an effective communications strategy to help prospects realize these things as well. Your organizations digital presence is at the heart of this, with the vast majority of job seekers conducting their research online. It is more important than ever to have a strong social media presence that gives an insight into exactly what it is like to be a part of your team, backed up a website which provides more informative content about opportunities, benefits, and application process.

This window into your workplace can be achieved by sharing authentic content with plenty of team pictures, team achievements, and anything else that showcases your organizations culture. This should be supported by a thorough recruitment page on your website which gives potential applicants all of the key information they want to see before beginning the recruitment process. This whole process comes under the umbrella of employer branding is should be a joint effort before Marketing and HR.

When it comes to advertising any open positions, effective recruitment marketing means incorporating a multi-channel approach. Digital advertising is the most popular choice here, as companies can easily list and receive applications through third-party platforms such as Seek and Indeed. However, this should be paired with a social media recruitment drive to ensure that you are reaching people where they spend most of their time. As we mentioned before, not everyone is actively searching meaning it can be harder to reach top-tier talent.

Further, you should be utilizing your network of existing employees by asking them to share news of any vacancies via word of mouth. The likelihood is that your current team have connections through their personal, professional, and educational networks that could be a good fit. You can incentivize this through recruitment bonuses and help encourage your team to spread the word.

From here, it is important to keep applicants engaged and informed throughout the application process. Even if they don’t receive the roll at the end, they may have great potential for a future opening, so it is important to ensure that they have a positive experience. Ensure that communications are timely and relevant, and most importantly be sure to let unsuccessful prospects know the outcome of their application – nothing is worse than being left in limbo.

Asking applicants about their experience throughout the recruitment process, what drew them to your organization, and whether they would apply again in the future can provide valuable insights and help your team identify strong and weak points.

There is a lot to take on board here, and for some small companies implementing a thorough recruitment marketing strategy can be a significant task. There are a range of third-party resources and services available that can aid in just one part of the process or handle it for you from beginning to end. Recruitment marketing is an ever-changing activity, so explore through trial and error what works for your organization and be sure to take on board feedback from applicants and current employees.

The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Getting an SME Loan

Increase your chances of approval by applying everywhere

Multiple loan applications are an instant red flag for many lenders and can have a negative impact on your credit. Whilst some business owners see submitting multiple applications as an opportunity to cover all their bases and increase their range of options, it can actually be damaging to your chances of approval. To lenders this may appear as though you are struggling to access funds and getting declined from multiple financiers, suggesting that you may not be an ideal applicant.

Rather, you should examine the funding options available to your business and pick the one which is the best fit for your current situation. In deciding this, you may choose to consult with a broker or business advisor. Then apply with one lender, and ensure that your application is comprehensive and complete, this reduces the need for back-and-forth and speeds up the assessment process. If you are unsuccessful then re-examine your options, but avoid casting your net too wide in the early stages.

 

Anyone aside from the Big Banks is a last resort

While historically people turned to the big banks for both their personal and business finance, the Australian lending landscape is making a move away from traditional lenders as the first choice. Of course, strong applicants may find success in obtaining business funding through the big banks, but many small business owners find that the limited funding options available through traditional lenders just do not fit their needs. Further, the requirements of these traditional lenders are becoming stricter and approval processes are becoming more involved and lengthier.

There is a wealth of non-bank lenders available that specialize in certain industries and niches and offer tailored funding solutions to fit business operating within these spaces. These lenders often operate under more flexible terms and are less risk-adverse than the banks, meaning they are more open to funding SME’s in a unique position. For many business owners, these alternative lenders are becoming the preferred option because of their ability to offer specialized solutions that take their needs into considerations.

 

Reduce your debt and utilize your working capital

There is no doubt that minimizing the level of debt against your small business is a good thing, however it is important to find a balance that ensures you have enough working capital to sustain your operations. Draining all your cash reserves during the start up phase of your SME or when undertaking a refurbishment or expansion project can place your business is a risky position.

Having a pool of working capital available for when opportunities or emergencies arise is vital, further these funds can be used on other facets of your business such as marketing and promotion. Strategically utilizing financing for tangible items such as equipment, fitout and vehicles often means you can use the assets themselves as security, whereas when financing soft costs such as legal fees some form of external collateral if generally required. This approach means that you are not putting your home or personal assets up for collateral, and are still able to preserve some of your working capital through the use of financing.

 

 

6 Best Women in Business Bloggers You Need To Follow

Ali Brown

Ali Brown founded and runs We Lead, a company created to empower women in business through entrepreneur coaching and business advice. Named as one of Forbes’ Women to Watch, Ali has a significant following and recently launched The Trust, a global network of female entrepreneurs.

Ali describes herself as a self-made millionaire, and now mentors other women who want to achieve big things in business. Her blog shared her own personal insights as well as the stories of other women, as well as advice on how to make the most of opportunities and excel.

 

Natalie MacNeil

Natalie MacNeil is the writer behind She Takes on the World and is a coach for female entrepreneurs across the globe. Her focus on is tackling big tasks by doing them in little steps and helping people build habits that lead to success. Her platform shares a wealth of advice and encourages readers to focus on personal growth as well as their business goals.

Natalie’s blog posts feature a wide variety of special guests to provide their insight on topics such as productivity, networking, and brain performance. As well as this she also covers mental health and physical wellness and how this connects to your business success.

 

Nicole Matejic

Nicole Matejic is an international author and trusted source on topics such as military operations, social intelligence, and diplomacy. Her book, Social Media Rules for Engagement examined how to use social media as a tool in times of crisis and to control your own story.

Nicole’s blog covers a range of topics including social media, crisis management, and responding to problems – making it an excellent resource of business owners everywhere. Taking a slightly different tact to many other business bloggers her unique perspective is fuelled by her diverse educational background, making her articles an interesting read.

 

Kate Cook

Kate Cook is the founder of Small Paper Things and is known as ‘The Attribution Gal’. Her marketing-based blog helps those in the industry by offering resources, guides, and templates, she also provides 1-on-1 mentoring, audits and consulting for clients.

A self-described ‘geek’, Kate highlights the importance of data in digital marketing and creating a seamless system. Her blog covers a broad range of topics and has excellent advice on all things marketing, from budgeting to reporting to what tools to use, her platform is a comprehensive guide.

Naomi Simson

Naomi Simson is the founder of RedBalloon, which later became part of Big Red Group, a community of over 2000 small businesses. However, you may know her for her role supporting small business start-ups on the television show Shark Tank. As an entrepreneur, investor, and business owner Naomi gained a depth of knowledge over her 20 years in the industry.

Naomi’s blog covers a broad range of topics from tactical business planning, to entrepreneurship advice, and how to build a positive workplace culture. She also offers a weekly newsletter so you can get her articles delivered straight to your inbox every Monday.

 

Kasia Gospos

Kasia Gospos is the CEO of Leaders in Heels and started her journey in 2011 after leaving Poland only a few years earlier to seek new experiences in Australia. Leaders in Heels has built a community of successful women and shares their stories and advice through their platform.

Kasia’s blog articles discuss career development including public speaking, leadership and changing jobs; she gives advice on business start-ups, running an online business and marketing; and delves into lifestyle factors such as productivity, relationship management and wellness.

5 Answers To The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Start Up Loans

What defines a start-up business?

This definition may vary, so it is important to clarify with your prospective lender whether you fit their definition of a start-up. Typically, a start up is a new company founded by entrepreneurs who want to bring a new and disruptive offering to the market. Given the high percentage of start ups that don’t make it past the first year, such ventures are associated with a certain level of risk, meaning it can be difficult to secure financial backing. As a result, many start-ups are running on a skeleton budget until they begin to generate revenue.

Working in a start up business can offer an exciting and fast-paced environment, often bringing together a group of people who are passionate about the idea. Some of the world’s most successful start-ups are not global organisations such as Microsoft, Facebook and Airbnb.

 

What funding options are available for start-ups?

Start-ups can access a wide range of financing solutions, from traditional and structured offerings to more alternative funding sources. Start-up businesses may struggle to get approval from mainstream lenders, especially if their business concept is a new and unproven model. However, there are still traditional business loan options available, often in the form of an operating lease or chattel mortgage. Such loans are generally secured using collateral like your home, vehicle, or savings.

If you do not want to put this collateral at risk, you may opt for a form of alternative funding. Non-bank lenders, private investors, crowdfunding and loans from family and friends are all great options. Non-bank lenders offer tailored funding solutions under more flexible terms and are a great fit for new businesses. If you are happy to consider exchanging a financial investment for equity in your start up, private investors and family loans can be a great option, especially if you are looking to launch an unconventional concept.

 

How much money do I need for my start-up?

This is something that business owners should figure out before approaching any funding providers. Lenders of all kinds will want to see proof of how much money your venture needs, rather than what you would ideally want. You should take the time to work out how much you need for tangible items such as equipment and fit-out, and how much is required for soft costs such as legal fees, marketing, staffing and rent. Depending on what funding option you choose you may not be able to access funds for soft costs, so it is important to have a clear breakdown of these expenses.

 

What are lenders looking for in a start-up loan application?

Typically, lenders are guided by ‘The 5 C’s of Credit’. These principles help funding providers evaluate the borrower and business viability, ensuring that responsible lending guidelines are followed. The 5 C’s are: Character, Capacity, Capital, Collateral and Conditions.

These guidelines build a holistic picture of the venture risk by looking at the character and reputation of the borrower, the businesses financial capacity to repay the loan based upon income, expenses and existing debt, how liquid the borrowers financial position is, what collateral is available to secure the loan, and the conditions of the finance term including interest rate and fees.

Whilst lenders each have their own unique application process, there is some standard information that will likely be required. Collating documents including ID, a business plan, asset and liability statement and financial projections can all make the process run smoothly.

 

Why might my start-up application be declined?

There are a range of reasons that potential lenders may decline your application for a start-up loan. These reasons likely relate to The 5 C’s of credit identified above, such as your perceived ability to repay the loan, the outlook of your cash flow forecast, and your ability to secure the loan.

However, some lenders only operate within specific markets, may seek to mitigate risk by not funding certain business models, or have a cap on funding limits for particular sectors. Based upon the information supplied in your business plan, a funding provider may opt not to approve your loan or invest in your start-up. This can be unrelated to the quality of your application and may be at the discretion of the lender and their own business decisions, if this is the case they will likely indicate this as the reason for decline.

 

Wellbeing: A Field Manager Self-Check

A role in field management can be dynamic, challenging and rewarding. However, when working in the field, managing your own mental health is an important part of the job. Not only does it help you maintain a healthy work-life balance but is a vital element in your ability to achieve success in your role. Often, those working in management rolls can ignore their own stress or neglect their wellbeing when addressing the challenges of their franchisees.

Field work, case work and people management can be stressful careers, and those who work in such roles need to ensure they are taking time to undertake a self-check and remain aware of their own wellbeing. This may come in many different forms, depending on how you experience stress and what helps revitalise you. Common stress responses include physical manifestations such as headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and muscle tightness. However, stress can also display itself through behavioural symptoms irritability, anxiety, disengagement, and inability to concentrate.

Field managers are often excellent at picking up these signs and symptoms in their franchisees yet may struggle to identify them within their own behaviour. Dealing with franchisees who may be doing through a period of distress can be emotionally draining for field managers. Often, people may take on the problems and stresses of their franchisees at the cost of their own mental health.

In a recent FRI breakout session, the Cashflow It Group team gained some valuable insights from field managers on how they maintain their energy and manage the challenges they face everyday in their role. There were some clear trends, however it is important to consider that what works for one person may not be right for you.

Traditional self-care activities such as daily exercise, meditation and mindfulness are all popular choices. There were however some more unique responses such as learning new skills to share with franchisees, collaborative work projects, and future planning. These activities can help build more personal connections with franchisees and refocus thoughts towards more optimistic times ahead.

No matter how well you manage stress, it is important to take the time to step-back and undertake a wellbeing self-check. Try to consider if you are placing your wellbeing at the forefront of your priorities, and if not, carve out some time in your schedule to dedicate to self-care.

 

A Guide to Conducting Effective Virtual Field Visits

The way we communicate and connect with those around us has changed dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe. Many franchisees have had to adapt their operating model in order to meet social distancing standards, and this same methodology applies to those working on the franchisor side of the business. Field managers’ roles often involve travelling around and logging face-to-face hours with their franchisees, however at this current time it just is not feasible, and as a result virtual field visits are becoming more common.

Despite the many ways that virtual field visits can increase efficiencies, such as reduced travel time and more flexibility in scheduling, this can be counteracted by technical issues and distractions and at time derail meeting plans. So, how can field managers best conduct effective virtual field visits?

The tools you choose to use matter. Opting to conduct visits over a video platform is a great choice as it helps to make the conversation personal and allows participants to gauge each other’s reactions and engagement. However, ensure that there is the option to partake with audio only, as video requires a strong internet connection which may not be accessible. Another important step is for both the field manager and franchisee to do a test-run ahead of time. Making sure that the chosen software is installed correctly, webcams and microphones are working, and that everyone is familiar with the program will avoid any frustrations.

The next step is to plan an agenda to ensure that the meeting stays on track. This is something that field managers would likely do regardless, however during a virtual visit it is vital that the conversation stays focused. Field managers should reach out to the franchisee in advance and ask if there is anything they would like to discuss in the meeting. This allows both parties to prepare any necessary resources and ensure that each issue can be properly addressed during the virtual visit.

The sharing of information and resources is also an important consideration. The software or platform being used to conduct the meeting will determine the process for sharing of resources. Some platforms will allow for the live sharing of documents during the meeting, whereas others may not have this capability meaning that documents should be sent ahead of time via email.

Finally, it is important that all participants are given time to talk. Just like in any field visit, there should be a balance between what the franchisee is bringing to the table and what the field manager is contributing. Ensure that the environment is collaborative and productive, this can be achieved by discouraging multi-taking or the use of any ‘mute’ functions.

We hope that these tips help both franchisees and field managers in adapting to our new normal (at least for the moment). Field visits are an important part of the franchisor-franchisee relationship and the ability to continue conducting such visits despite social distancing restrictions will help keep the network connected.

 

Co-working Spaces, A New Opportunity in Franchising

Co-working spaces are trending globally as employees call for more flexibility in their working arrangements and companies embrace the remote workplace. The concept of shared office spaces is not a new one, with many small companies opting to pool their resources into a shared office space. However, this trend has evolved into the co-working spaces we know today, unique multi-purpose buildings often located in city hubs and retail precincts.

International Workplace Group reported that by 2030, it is predicted that 30% commercial real estate will be flexible workplaces. This figure is quite realistic, with the co-working market current worth $36 billion and at least 50% of workers doing their job remotely a couple of day a week. A survey of 18,000 business leaders found that an overwhelming 89% believed utilising flexible workspaces helps their business grow.

With flexible workplaces and remote working set to become the new normal, we can expect to see changes in city plans, with a shift away from corporate parks and office districts towards a more integrated approach. A significant appeal of many co-working spaces is their proximity to dining and retail amenities, often located in the heart of the city.

As an industry set to see significant growth in the coming years, co-working spaces present an opportunity for the franchise industry to grow and diversify. Whilst traditionally the franchise model is associated with retail and quick service restaurant brands, getting involved in a flexible workplace franchise is an investment in a new era of corporate operations.

With lower overheads and operating costs than more traditional franchise businesses, co-working spaces present an opportunity for high return. There are a range of options for those looking to invest, ranging from a full service office space, with hot desking, private offices, meeting rooms and communal areas, or simply a desk within a large open plan space.

So whether you are looking to purchase your first franchise, or diversify your existing franchising portfolio the co-working market could be the right investment for you.

Accessing Business Finance With No Property Backing

There is no doubt that access to funds has been a major barrier to small business ownership for a long time, and over the fast few years the complex application requirements of the big banks have become more restrictive. Recently, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 1 in 3 Australians don’t own a home. The increasing volatility of the country’s property market means that home ownership is becoming increasingly unattainable, and further those who do own property are struggling as property values fluctuate.

Even though 60% of small business owners are looking for funds to grow their business, the concern of property backing is becoming an increasing challenge. This is where non-bank lenders and alternative finance providers can help. Whilst such lenders have always played an important role in bridging the gap between the offerings of traditional banks and the varied needs of small business owners, their role in Australia’s lending landscape is becoming more important than ever.

Non-bank lenders are experiencing a steep rise in adoption rates. Though many are unable to compete with traditional providers on interest rate, they offer a wealth of other benefits which appeal to small business borrowers. Quicker and simpler application processes, reduced paperwork, flexibility and transparency were among some of the favour characteristics of alternative lenders. However most notably, non-bank lenders willingness to secure against business assets rather than personal property assets has been a key differentiator.

Whilst banks are still resistant to offer business loans which don’t take personal property as security, the flexible funding options of non-bank funders are more aligned with the circumstance of many of Australia’s small business owners. Whilst it is likely that borrows will have to compromise on rate, studies found that this is not a major concern. A recent SME Growth index found that a hopping 91% of SMEs would be willing to pay a higher interest rate to avoid using their home as security. This percentage reflects the impact that Australia’s property market is having on business owners.

The key takeaway is that if you are not a homeowner, or you don’t want to risk your home as security, there are options out there to suit you. Whilst banks and traditional lenders are a staple of Australia’s lending landscape, small business owners should consider non-bank and alternative funding sources that may be a better fit for their business finance needs.