When people first contemplate starting their own business, one of their first considerations is usually to decide what kind of field or industry in which they would like to work. If given the choice, people would naturally want to pursue a career in an area of interest. It stands to reason that if someone is passionate about what they do for a living, they will be more motivated, engaged and satisfied.
To a certain extent, that is true. People should want to work in a field that interests them and can bring out their best as a worker. However, as a franchise coach, I have seen many times in which people place too much attention on the type of work they are doing rather than if the business they will own matches their skill set and ability to be successful. These decisions often lead to unhappy individuals and businesses that ultimately fail.
One example of this situation is an engineer who wants to start his or her own business. I’ve worked with people who have been an engineer their entire career, enjoy fixing and designing things and want to open an engineering business. Although the desire and knowledge of the field are great, the bigger question is what is the primary skill set they need to be successful as a business owner? They don’t need to be an engineer, but rather be able to get out in the community and build relationships and secure business. After that is done, they can hire engineers to do the work. Someone can be a great engineer, but if they don’t like doing the things it takes to grow the businesses, it will not be successful.
I have heard people express an interest in starting a child education franchise because they enjoy teaching children. Similar to the engineering business, their primary responsibilities will be managing and growing the business, and in this case, they will be doing very little teaching. Sometimes people may be drawn to a recreational concept they enjoy without considering whether the work schedule or potential income meets their lifestyle objectives. Others tend to focus on trendy or popular ideas and don’t think about if the fundamentals of the business will work and if it has a secure future.
What is the best approach to determine which kind of business ownership is a good fit for someone? A good place to start is to view the business more like a job. There have been many studies done regarding professional happiness and which employees feel the most content and fulfilled. Often it is those who are good at their job, who have a matching skill set and who are afforded a lifestyle they are seeking. The better the fit, the happier the person is and generally the more successful they are at that job.
That same logic can be applied to determining what type of business ownership to pursue. An individual should think about their personal skill set and abilities and how they can apply them to running a business. Are they good at managing employees and handling sales or do they prefer not to do that? Does that person have kids and want to be home on the evenings and weekends? They also must decide what kind of income they need to earn with the business before moving forward with their plans. People must ask themselves these questions and build this model ahead of time. In many ways, it is like a job description.
Once someone defines what a business would look like for them and builds a description of their role as owner based on their personal strengths, they should screen other ideas for the business through this model. The more things they can find that match their skill set, the better the chance for happiness and long-term success.
I often say one of the most important parts of the due diligence process is for people to interview franchise owners in the system they are researching to get a better understanding of how that business works. Prospects will want to ask them what they do as a business owner each day and what their primary role is in the business. They will want to know things such as their biggest challenges or surprises and if there is a certain skill they wished they possessed for the job. Having these conversations provides great insight into the business and what to expect as an owner. It is also very helpful in separating a general interest for a specific concept from what their role would be like as a franchise owner.
People often talk about finding a career they are passionate about. In this case, there is a misunderstanding of the concept of being passionate. What someone really must have is a passion for being a business owner. That is, to own and build a business, employ people, create customers and manage the company.
There can be situations in which a business concept is contradictory to one’s fundamental beliefs. If someone has a belief that fast food is bad, then they shouldn’t open a fast-food restaurant. However, if you talk to most business owners, they will tell you that prior to opening the company they did not have a passion for the exact business itself. What they did have is a passion for success and building a business.