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I once interviewed a successful home services franchisee who told me that he almost signed a franchise agreement with a completely different concept. He put that other concept’s franchise agreement on the shelf for weeks and didn’t touch it. He was at the end of his due diligence process after spending months researching that business and talking to both the franchisor and many franchisees. It was time to decide. The franchise agreement stayed on the shelf collecting dust. He stopped researching the business, because he had run out of questions. There was no missing information. He stopped talking about the business to his family and instead seemed to quietly stew about it.
His wife finally asked him, “What’s holding you back?” He replied that he liked the overall franchise model, franchisees, brand and culture. But he felt the franchise agreement was overly littered with “gotcha” clauses that seemed out of place compared to the business as it was presented to him. Also, the royalty seemed too high compared to what he was getting as a franchisee. He just couldn’t move forward.
That realization was a successful outcome for him, though he didn’t see it until later. Why? Although most of the model was a fit, the total package was still not enough — based on facts about the license agreement and his assessment of return on investment. These are perfectly reasonable concerns, and he was right to stop the process based on this information.
It turned out to be a good move and not just because he avoided a bad fit. The franchise consultant he was working with introduced him to another brand that ultimately did have the total package he wanted. When the fit was right and the facts supported his decision, moving forward felt natural and wasn’t stressful.
When it comes time to make your franchise purchase decision, trust the facts you have gathered, and trust your gut. If the ownership package isn’t a complete fit, don’t try to talk yourself into it. Move on, and find a better concept. When you develop conviction based on data, then you can move forward with confidence.
What if you have done robust and thoughtful due diligence on a franchise concept, you have consulted with your personal advisory team, support system and franchisees and received the right feedback across the board? You now have factual confirmation of fit. You flipped over all the rocks and looked underneath. Franchisee validation and business results are strong. You have a clear-headed, complete picture of this opportunity. You trust your gut, and the facts are the facts. Both say move forward. Are you stuck at this point? It’s not analysis paralysis, because you feel conviction about this franchise. But your feet are still rooted to the ground. Why?
The real problem at that point is that inertia and (sometimes) tangled emotions are involved. It can be hard to let go of your “before” life and comfort zone, because it’s familiar. It feels risky, because it’s a change — even if rationally, you see that change will push your life in the right new direction. You can see “what’s next,” but you’re feeling uncomfortable. This feeling is often similar to that vague unease or stress you might feel upon leaving a job or the military, locking the front door of your house for the last time when you move or when dropping your child off at college. There is that moment when time seems to stop. You’re not quite ready to let go of your “before” life-state to step over the chasm into your “what’s next.” This sensation can come as a bit of a shock and be unnerving, especially to seasoned businesspeople who are used to feeling confident in their ability to make smart, fact-based decisions.
Move forward with confidence
With regard to entrepreneurship, what many people don’t see until much later is that this particular decision chasm is an illusion. You are already changed. You can’t just go back to your old life now. Your mindset has shifted, and you probably won’t be happy being someone’s employee. You proven fit based on data and your own thorough due diligence. That information allowed you to develop conviction in the first place that this is the right franchise business for you.
Making the decision to move forward and become a franchise owner when all the data and signals are right isn’t about crossing a chasm. It’s just taking the first conscious step onto the new path you’re unconsciously already on. For a long time, you’ve wanted to start your own business. Now you have the fit, support and the operating framework to be successful. You can already see yourself in this business. You have already made the commitment to yourself that you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it successful.
If you have developed strong conviction about the opportunity and culture, factually proven fit and economic viability through a robust due diligence process, and if your gut is telling you this is the right business for you — then move forward with confidence. Entrepreneurship is no longer just in your future, it’s now ingrained in your present mindset. You’ll never see the world the same way again, and from one entrepreneur to another: That’s a good thing.