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The Spirited Return of Distilling in KC

Kansas City’s rich history of distilling began more than a century ago, but it evaporated after Prohibition was enacted in 1922. In fact, buying a bottle of gin, whiskey or vodka made in Kansas City was impossible until a few years ago. With the arrival of J. Rieger & Company, Tom’s Town Distilling Company, Restless Spirits Distilling Company, and several other distilleries, locally-made spirits are flowing in and out of Kansas City once again. (more…)

The Dearly Departed

We get a lot of questions about how to handle employee departures, whether they’re voluntary or involuntary. It’s clear that entrepreneurs aren’t really sure of their responsibilities in this area. To ensure that you do all the right things, let’s go over the fundamentals so the next time it happens, you’ll know what to do. (more…)

The Key to Sales Goals Success: Committing to a Routine

Three months ago, Jon set ambitious sales goals for his business. When he reviewed his progress recently, Jon was ahead of target – for the first time in two years. Jon is more than lucky or determined. What he realized this year is that setting a sales goal isn’t just getting the number right – it’s also committing to a routine of activities that produce results. (more…)

How to Find the Right Franchise – the 4 P’s

Entering the world of franchising is like jumping off a high dive into the ocean. There are many different industries to consider and all have their own story to sell.

It’s difficult to peruse a website or a scan a piece of paper to understand completely the true value of the business and if it is the sector in which you want to invest.

I have worked closely with franchisees for more than 14 years and have sold franchises in the food service industry.  I’ve learned a lot about the process and I know how important it is for all parties to find the right “fit.”

There are some crucial points that one should examine before buying into a franchise.  I have dealt with all of them during the years.

I have narrowed the advice down to the following 4 P’s to consider when evaluating a franchise.

The Product

This is arguably the most important point. Buy into a company or product you love.  You’d be surprised about how many franchised businesses and products you interact with each day.  Consider the dry cleaner where you take your clothes, the coffee shop where you get your morning cup of jo, the sub sandwich shop you go to for lunch, or the gym at which you work out. Look into the businesses and brands you love.

This is a whole separate post on its own, but it’s also important to think about the longevity of a product. Is it just a fad or is it forever? Sometimes people can get caught up into a cool, new trend that might be successful for the first year or two, but fizzle longer-term.

The Price

Franchises come in different shapes and sizes.  There is always something that can blend into your financial situation. Every franchisor structures the agreement differently, however, so what may seem like a great buy initially may have hidden costs or requirements. Here are some of the key questions you want to ask as you are evaluating opportunities:

  • What is the length of agreement?
  • What are the royalty fees?
  • How much are the initial franchise fees?
  • How much will I be required to pay in marketing and operating costs?
  • What is the cash on cash return, meaning how much am I investing vs. overall sales and income

The People

When buying into a franchise, you are not just buying a brand or a product. You also are buying into a team of people to support you in building your own business. As with any business, it is important to mesh with whom you work.

You can gather a lot from your initial inquiry. Is the franchise responsive? Did you get a personal phone call or an email?

Ask to meet them and to interview existing franchise owners. Explore all support teams within the organization – marketing, finance, training, support, business consultants, etc. These people will be your most important asset to building and growing your business,  so it’s important you like them.

I’d also encourage you to talk with the owners and leadership team to understand their plan for the future of the business.

This all leads me to my last point….

Personalized Support

Owning your own business is tough. The things that can go wrong at all hours of the day and night will. It’s important to think through those situations and make sure you have the staff and support structure in place to help you. Let’s face it:  You can’t be there all of the time and you may not always have a solution.

Some franchise businesses have a process for how problems should be handled through a hotline, or other support system. That could be helpful, but I like to know I have an actual person to call when I need help.

When you are talking with a franchise, ask about their process for emergencies or unexpected problems. With whom you will work when an issue arises or when you need advice.

Be certain you understand the backend support systems on which that the business operates.  These will be matters such as accounting, sales tracking, training and other essential events.

Once you’ve gathered all the information, take some time to do additional research. Then evaluate all of your options side-by-side and follow-up with any additional questions. You’re making a big investment. You should be 100 percent confident with your decision.

 

A Message from Your Future: 3 Business Priorities for 2017

Every year at the holidays, my family plays a game called “Yankee Swap.” In our version, inexpensive, useful gifts are wrapped identically. Each person is given a number, selects and unwraps a gift, or “steals” another player’s opened gift. This year, my gift was a 2017 planner titled “Plans for World Domination 2017.”

Talk about Big Hairy Audacious Goals – this was probably not what Jim Collins had in mind when he coined that phrase in his book “Built to Last.” Although intended as a joke, that planner’s title is a bold message from the future: a new year is an opportunity to refine your business priorities and focus on success. Here’s how with three simple tips.

1. Keep Your Goals on Track.

The often-cited Harvard Goals Study suggests that people with clear, documented goals achieve more and earn more than those who don’t. Once you have written your goals, do the following:

  • Put them into a form that you can review and revise.
  • Set interim outcomes by asking yourself what the monthly or quarterly outcomes of your goals might look like.
  • Schedule a weekly appointment with yourself to review your goals.

2. Get Real.

During your weekly appointment with yourself, keep your business goals visible. Reviewing a standard list of questions at each meeting can help you to focus on what you did during the previous week and what you can do this week. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself:

Business Changes

  • What needs to change in my business?
  • Who can help with this?
  • Which of my current activities or behaviors need to change?

Opportunities and Issues

  • What can be done right now to help to resolve this issue or leverage this opportunity?
  • How do these opportunities or issues impact my business goals and opportunities?

 Priorities and Productivity

  • What percentage of my time do I spend on specific activities?
  • How could I defer or delegate those things?
  • What were the top three things I did last week or I will do next week?

3. Make Someone’s Day – Every Day

If you dared yourself to make someone’s day every day, what kind of impact would it have on your business? It’s a question worth pondering every morning. When I receive a message of compliments or thanks, I tell the sender that he or she has made my day. Expressing this simple appreciation always makes the sender’s day too. When someone does something beneficial for me, or I recognize someone’s influence on a project or activity that is going well, I send a note or email, or call to thank that person for making a positive impact.

No matter what plans you have for your business in 2017, your message from the future is a reminder. Set Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals, then pay close attention to the impact your activities have on your business and relationships.

Why Your Small Business Needs a Real Competitive Advantage

Imagine a business where you clearly have a competitive advantage. You offer something valuable that others in your industry either won’t or can’t offer. Customers who need or want your service can clearly see what you offer is different and they appreciate that difference—they’re willing to pay a premium for it, and they’re much less likely to shop around. That’s a great place to be. (more…)


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