It was 8pm and RoBob was sat at his desk, savouring his third coffee of the hour.
It was Friday and he was due to be taking his wife, Jane, out for their 25th anniversary. Instead, he was at the office, waiting for his American counterpart to confirm the numbers so that he could finally close the quarter.
“That’ll be another quarter down” he muttered under his breath with a slight sense of relief, only to remember that it will be the same frenzied panic in just a few months’ time. “These quarter-ends seem to be getting worse”, he thought as he sat back in his chair, reflecting on the frantic weeks that had lead up to this quarter close.
RoBob felt more stressed, more restless, than usual. The quarter end had taken its toll, but there was something else, something missing that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He began thinking about Jane. “How has it been 30 years?” he thought as he reflected on when they first met.
The Very Beginning
Bob, as he was known back then, had not long graduated and was six months into his first real job. Jane and he had met at a party when, keeping to the 1970’s fashion, Bob was dressed in flairs and had long, wavy hair. Full of ambition, motivation and goals, Bob had grand dreams of one day becoming a director for a global company.
Bob won Jane over with his drive and determination, and before he knew it, they were happily married with their first child, little Isabella, on the way. He smiled as he thought of Isabella and her younger siblings, Rosie and Bobby.
“I am so lucky to have such amazing children” he thought, “I wished I had got to spend more time with them as they were growing up”.
RoBob remembered the hour or two he would get to spend with them each evening, as he came home from a long day at work. He thought about how they had flourished from babies, into kids and then before he knew it, young adults who were now standing on their own two feet. “I miss them” he whispered to himself.
The alert on his computer brought RoBob back to the present moment. The email from his American counterpart had finally arrived and he could now begin closing the quarter.
RoBob finished his tasks and closed his computer, then grabbing his keys and jacket, he headed for the door. As he made his exit he muttered under his breath “There’s got to be more to life than this”….
Reflecting On The Past, The Present And The Future…
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and RoBob was in his garden, mowing the lawn having spent the majority of the day doing life admin. Although a few weeks had passed since the quarter-end, RoBob couldn’t stop thinking about that evening. His fleeting statement, “there’s got to be more to life than this”, had been going around and round in his head and it was causing him to start asking some deeper questions:
“How did I get to this point?”
“When did work stop being ‘fun’?”
“How can I make more time for what’s important to me?”
“Am I living in my comfort zone”?
“Where can I find new challenges”?
“Why do I feel so unfulfilled?”
“How do I want to spend the next 10-15 years of my working career?”
“What will my legacy be to my children?”
“When did I stop being Bob?”
“Am I Happy?”
The “When did I stop being Bob?” question had really struck a chord. He realised that, at some point during his career, he had lost his personal identity and stopped being ‘Bob’, the ambitious, happy-go-lucky young man he once was.
Instead, the identity of his corporate employer had taken over and, due to the various pressures that come with working in a fast-paced corporate environment, he had begun associating with this corporate identity as if it was his own.
He realised that he had become a cog in a much larger corporate machine, going through the motions to the point where everything became one long blurry day in the office, with the occasional holiday and time spent with the family.
He had become what he termed as a ‘RoBob’ and the one thing he knew is that he oh so desperately wanted to break free and rediscover who ‘Bob’ was.
In addition to this self-questioning, he wasn’t particularly having the best time at work. Shortly after the quarter end, it was announced that there were going to be some changes in leadership, which meant he would soon be reporting to a new direct line. He had had brushes with what would soon be his new boss in the past and he knew that they had a very different way of doing things.
While RoBob liked to step back, gain perspective on a situation and then make a decision, his new boss liked to rush in head first and deal with the consequences later. He had a reputation of ‘throwing people under the bus’ to save his own skin, rather than throwing himself under to save the skin of his team.
RoBob could see that this was going to be a difficult relationship and he was already seriously contemplating whether he even wanted to go down that path at all.
How Do I Want To Spend The Next 10-15 Years of My Working Career?
Another question that had also struck a chord with RoBob was the “How do I want to spend the next 10-15 years of my working career?”.
He had become tired of the day-to-day responsibilities of his current role and was eager for a fresh new challenge.
Over the years he had applied for a couple of jobs that took his interest, but nothing came of them. If anything, they showed him how few options he had now that he was at the top of his game.
After giving this question some more thought, he realised that he quite fancied doing something on his own, his own business perhaps. After all, he had spent his entire career helping his employers successfully manage and grow their businesses, lining their pockets in the process, why not do it for himself?
That question however leads to a dark, unknown place and he quickly dismissed it as a possibility. But he had kept coming back to it over the course of the week.
Having finished mowing the lawn and putting the equipment away, he sat down with a cold drink and admired his accomplishments of the afternoon.
RoBob sat back in his chair to continue his contemplation and asked himself “What are the realities’ of business ownership and how does it differ to corporate life?”
A Chance Encounter
The following week RoBob was on his way to an early morning meeting at a conference centre about an hour from his home.
As he pulled up to the conference centre he noticed a large room full of people that seemed to be over spilling into the lobby. He parked his car and made his way to the reception desk, navigating his way through the crowd of people, to the receptionist.
The receptionist checked him in and as he made his way to his room, he glanced back to take another look at this group of people that had clearly caught his attention.
Everyone looked so alive and alert, fully present in each conversation and listening with an intent to hear what the other person was saying, rather than listening to respond.
“I wonder what that was all about” he said to himself as he entered his meeting room, where he was greeted by one of his peers and a supplier.
RoBob’s meeting finished at lunch time, at which point he thanked his supplier and left the room, leaving his peer to tie-up the details that they had discussed.
As RoBob made his way to the car, he thanked the receptionist and glanced towards the door where the crowd of people had been over spilling from. The door was now closed and the hallway deadly quiet, but as he looked at the door he saw a gentleman step out that he vaguely recognised.
He took a closer look and then did a double take again. It was his friend and former colleague, John.
John used to work at RoBob’s previous employer, where he oversaw one of the divisions. John had taken voluntary redundancy when it was offered to him, while RoBob stayed on and eventually got a promotion.
“John! Is that you? What are you doing here?!” cried RoBob. John looked up and, having seen RoBob, he quickly made his way over to shake his hand. “It’s good to see you!” John said with a warm smile across his face and they immediately engaged in conversation.
John explained that he’d grown sick and tired of corporate life and all the typical ‘games and politics’ that came with it. He and his wife had already been discussing a change and, when he was offered redundancy, he thought he’d take it and see what else was out there.
Immediately upon leaving his job, he was offered a couple of short term contracts from contacts within his network, which brought in additional income and kept him busy for a while. However, he quickly realised that being a full-time consultant for himself was a risky way to go, particularly as in a few years’ time, when his networks would start to dry out, he would struggle to find work.
Introducing Franchising As An Alternative Career Option
“So what did you do?” asked RoBob, with utter concentration on John’s next words.
“Well, I knew I wanted to do my own thing, but I didn’t necessarily want to do it by myself” said John. “So, I ended up joining a franchise and becoming a business coach, which has allowed me to use my skills and experience to help other people, while building a pretty damn good business for myself in the process. In fact, I’m holding an event now int hat room over there”, John said as he pointed to the room with the closed door where crowds of people were spilling into the lobby earlier that morning.
“You’ve joined a what?! cried RoBob. “A franchise” John chuckled back.
RoBob had to take a minute. To him, a franchise was something to do with fast food and when he thought of one, he immediately had pictures of processed burgers, drive-through windows and big neon lights flashing before his eyes.
John went onto explain that one of the best ways to think of a franchise is to think of business ownership within a corporate setting; it allows you to work for yourself, but not by yourself.
John explained that there are hundreds of different franchises across many different industries, from fast food to consulting. They give you the benefits of business ownership, without the high risks that can come with ‘going it alone’. RoBob was blown away.
“Look, I really need to go” said John. “Take my card and give me a call on Saturday morning around 11am. I’ll happily talk you through my journey and share what I know, I can see that you’re keen to learn more”. “Thank you, John” said RoBob as he quickly took the card from John’s hand. “Look, I’ve got to go but we’ll speak more on Saturday, Ok?”. “Sounds good to me” said RoBob.
RoBob made his way to the car, looking down at John’s business card. It said “John Chambers, Business Coach”. He was confused yet felt a strange pang of excitement. “What is this franchising thing all about then?” he muttered to himself.
What Is This Franchising Thing All About Then?
RoBob could hardly wait for Saturday to arrive. Following his brief encounter with John, he had done a little research and found out some more on franchising, but he still had a ton of questions to ask.
As soon as the minute hand hit 11 o’clock, RoBob dialled John’s number and waited for him to pick up. John picked up the phone with a warm and welcoming voice and they immediately began exchanging pleasantries. It wasn’t long before the conversation turned to franchising.
John explained what a franchise was and how it differed from a business that you start-up yourself. He explained why a business might decide to franchise in the first place and why someone might choose to start a franchise.
John showed RoBob that franchises exist in all types of industries, from consulting and coaching franchises through to education, property and professional services franchises. He explained to RoBob the costs involved in franchising and the various funding options that are available.
Finally, they discussed the differences and similarities between operating a franchise and working for a corporate.
The conversation could not have been more timely. RoBob had not had a good week at work, with his incoming boss already making his presence known.
One of his peers, who had grown into a good friend over the years, had decided to take a ‘package’ and leave on the back of the recent changes in leadership. Although nothing had been formerly discussed, RoBob was conscious that this may be a potential option for him as well, if he decided to pursue it.
The thought of leaving his employer, where he had spent the last ten years, gave RoBob an instant pang of fear. “But John” RoBob blurted out, “How did you know that this was the right move for you? I mean… not only did you leave your employer and the financial security it provided, you spent your own money on joining a franchise and getting this thing going, It’s a big move!”.“It is” John replied.
“The key to it all” John went on to explain “is that you first have to take a step back and conduct a sort of personal analysis.”. “What do you mean?” RoBob asked, intrigued with John’s comment.
“Well, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen in franchising are franchisees that shouldn’t be in business for themselves in the first place. They’re just not mentally and emotionally prepared for the duties and responsibilities of small business ownership.
You see, when you buy a franchise, the real value that you’re getting is an established business model… an A-Z blueprint on how to build and run that specific business. The franchisor trains you on how to operate that business model and provides on-going support and resources to assist you every step of the way.
However, the franchisor is not building the business for you. That’s your role and it takes a lot of work. If you’re not prepared to put in that work, or if you haven’t created the right conditions to succeed… then you’re not setting yourself up to win.
Therefore, the first step in this process is to take a step back and conduct a sort of personal review, to see if small business ownership is a viable vehicle for you in the first place”.
“Good advice” thought RoBob.
Conducting A Personal Analysis
Over the next two weeks, RoBob spent his time exploring who he was and what he wanted out of life.
RoBob looked back over his career and evaluated the different twists and turns in his personal journey. This gave him a new sense of pride as he had certainly had a colourful story and achieved many of the things that he set out to do.
He reviewed what he most and least enjoyed throughout his career and concluded that coaching and developing others gave him the biggest sense of fulfilment.
RoBob also spent time reviewing where things were in his family life.
Isabella, Rosie and Bobby were all standing on their feet, with Isabella and Rosie living with their partners and working full time, while Bobby was due to finish university and had already secured a graduate job in the city.
He was so proud of them and relished the idea of being able to see them more often.
RoBob realised that while he had achieved a lot of his goals from a career perspective, he and Jane still had a lot of things that they both wanted to do that had some how fallen by the waist side.
He had even brought the subject up with Jane about doing something different and, to his surprise, she was very enthusiastic about the idea.
Financially, although they still had a small mortgage on their property, they had a good amount of savings and a healthy pension pot to fall back on, with a few other small investments bubbling away.
They had the financial capability to support themselves and, if it went all wrong, the impact on his and Jane’s retirement wouldn’t be too great.
However, if all went well, it would have a significant impact on his and Jane’s retirement and the legacy that they could leave to their children and eventual grandchildren.
They would have much more freedom and far greater capabilities, compared to the options that were available to them if he continued down the corporate path. RoBob sensed that with the right calculated risk, this could be an opportunity to shape their future.
RoBob concluded that now was indeed an ideal time to start exploring different options, with franchising and small business ownership being a viable option for him to explore further. He realised that the timing and circumstances were right for him and his family and that, if he found the right opportunity, he would have the drive and determination to see it through to success.
He couldn’t quite explain it, but he felt slightly more at peace than he had done over the previous weeks and months.
That Saturday, RoBob called John and shared his discoveries. John was enthusiastic by it all and momentarily relived the time when he first started exploring options outside of the traditional corporate world. “How far I have come” he thought to himself, with a smile on his face.
“So, what’s next?” asked RoBob. “Where do I start in exploring the various franchise opportunities available?”. John, detecting a hint of confidence in RoBob’s voice, replied “Good question, I’ll show you”.
John had given RoBob the details of a Franchise Search Consultant who he had worked with to help him find his most suited franchise.
RoBob had called this Franchise Search Consultant, who was an expert in helping people transition out of corporate life into franchise business ownership, and together they explored the world of franchising from the top down.
The Franchise Search Consultant first spent time determining RoBob’s current understanding of franchising and quickly filled in any knowledge gaps that RoBob had. They explored RoBob’s background and his aspirations moving forward, then the Franchise Search Consultant explained the various franchise models that would align with both, building on his strengths and meeting his future financial and lifestyle expectations.
The Franchise Search Consultant explained that, although RoBob had spent many years working in the same industry, he wasn’t limited to franchises in that industry.
In fact, he would probably be more successful if he went into a new industry that excited him, where he could build on his strengths and transferable skills.
Finally, RoBob and the Franchise Search Consultant explored several different franchise opportunities until they had homed in on the two that appealed most to RoBob.
This process lasted a couple of weeks and by now RoBob was feeling increasingly more confident. He was armed with information that was highly relevant to his circumstances and, although he was still learning about the franchise industry, he felt he had a good foundation of knowledge to build upon.
Understanding The Dynamics Of A Franchise
RoBob understood the dynamics of a franchise and what role both the franchisor and franchisee had to play. He was armed with a list of questions to ask prospective franchisors and he knew the type of answers he wanted to hear back.
The Franchise Search Consultant had connected RoBob with the franchising teams at three major banks, of which he had initial conversations about raising finance to cover most of his franchise fees and working capital to get the business started.
RoBob had, of course, involved Jane through this entire exploratory process, sharing his insights into franchising and discussing what it could mean for them.
As with any big life change, there was some natural fear from both him and Jane;
“What if it didn’t work out?”
“How easy would it be to get another corporate role?”
“What impact would this have on their future?”
However, they felt that there was no harm in continuing the exploratory process and they liked the fact that once they engaged in conversation with franchisors, they could speak to existing franchisees and hear what things were really like in their own words.
Having researched the two franchises that appealed most to him and Jane, RoBob felt ready to engage in conversation and to take his research to the next level.
His Franchise Search Consultant introduced RoBob to the directors of the two franchises that he was most interested in and setup a phone call for an initial conversation with both.
RoBob, armed with questions and, thanks to the Franchise Search Consultant, a whole bunch of background information on the franchise that wasn’t available on the franchisor’s website or anywhere else on the internet.
He had never felt readier for a conversation as he did then.
The Return Of Bob
Bob entered the crowded room where he gradually made his way to the front, navigating between the large round tables where excited faces were talking about the various aspects of running and growing a business.
The energy in the room was something he had grown to live for. After two attempts to lower the noise, the crowd started to conclude their conversations and give Bob their undivided attention.
In the front row Bob could see four of his clients, who were sitting with smiles on their faces and eagerly awaiting his next instructions. He had been working with them for the past six months and had grown to think of them as extended family.
Bob went onto give the audience their instructions for the afternoon, highlighting the key objectives for that part of the day and setting expectations on when they were to return.
The audience were formulating their business objectives and plans for the next quarter, and Bob made it clear that he and the other business coaches would be on hand to help them with any part of the process.
“Geez, I never thought end of quarters could be so much fun” thought Bob, as he had a brief glimpse back to that fateful day in the office just over a year ago.
Bob’s journey since then had been one of discovery and self-growth. Having spoken to two franchisors and working his way through their exploratory processes, which both he and Jane participated in, he and Jane decided that a business coaching franchise was the way they wanted to go.
Firstly, the concept of “business coaching” really spoke to Bob.
“If you’re a professional sports person, or singer, or actor, or even dentist, then you will have a coach and mentor to support you on your journey and help you fulfil your true potential. Why should that be any different for business owners?” is what you would hear Bob often say.
The fact that Bob had identified coaching and team/people development as the most enjoyable part of his career further enforced this was a good business for him, plus he found the process of working with smart, driven small business owners with an abundance mindset invigorating.
The business model of the franchise had essentially allowed him to build up a portfolio career, working with several different clients, all through the same infrastructure and with the added support of the franchisor.
Financially, Bob could hardly believe the level of income that he was starting to see, which was coming up close to his former corporate salary. He and Jane estimated that his income would exceed his former salary within 6 months and within three years he would be earning significantly more than he ever dreamed possible – and with far fewer hours!
Now that Bob worked from a home office, he was able to start dictating his own hours and truly shape his working day and week. He found himself having time to pursue his interests, including reading and studying, while also having the flexibility to take spontaneous trips and days out with Jane. Bob had seen more of Jane, Isabella, Rosie and Bobby in the last year than he had in the last three.
However, if you think it was all plain sailing, then Bob would be the first to assure you that wasn’t the case.
Having gone through the exploratory process and chosen a franchise, Bob also had to negotiate a package with his employer and exit the business.
Looking back, this was the hardest part of the journey so far. Once he had signed his franchise agreement, Bob went on an intensive week-long training – 12 hour days for five days, before going home to setup the initial elements of the business, only to then return for a second week of intensive training.
The first three months were particularly testing, as Bob was learning to integrate the systems and processes of the franchisor with his own unique personality and style of working. At first,things weren’t gelling and then one day it ‘clicked’ and within 30 days he had signed his first 3 clients.
To say Bob was elated is an understatement and, from that point on, there was no looking back.
Bob still encounters new challenges and lessons to learn every single day, but he approaches them with a ‘can-do’ mindset and truly sees them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
The future is looking bright for Bob and Jane and, with the clarity of hindsight, they often ask themselves why they didn’t do this sooner.