Friday, 27 November 2009

Selecting the right Franchise Development Consultant

All businesses must continue to grow in order to stay in the game as otherwise they run a risk of stagnating and, eventually, ceasing trading. Those businesses that survive the start-up period inevitably arrive at the point where they need to get to the next level in their life cycle.

As one of growth strategies, franchising allows smaller companies to effectively compete with larger businesses. Franchising provides businesses with the ability to gain market share by increasing their points of distribution. Franchises are generally able to grow and expand their businesses faster than conventional businesses and franchise expansion requires minimal capital as the initial investment at the unit level is covered by franchisees. Franchise brand’s growth is not limited to one or two locations; franchising offers the opportunity to have multiple units throughout the country and the world. Usually, the success of a business depends upon its location and/or the staff. The fundamental principal for the success of a franchise is its ability to replicate its success.

Many business owners make countless regrettable decisions along the way. The decision of expanding a business through franchising is never an easy one and requires careful analysis and assessment of the business and its potential, thorough research and planning. Business owners could achieve the lifestyle they desire in much shorter timeframe whilst retaining that unique feel in their business as it grows and expands nation- and worldwide.

Developing a successful concept and business model is one thing, but franchising a business, developing a much larger network can be a daunting and complex process. Building a franchise is like constructing a building – get the foundation wrong and the results could be disastrous. Understanding franchising in all its aspects is essential before committing resources to its development. Taking professional advice can save a considerable amount of headache, time and money through the various stages of franchise development. An independent third party advisor who has many years of experience can bring great benefits to any individual or company considering franchising.

Selecting the right Franchise Development Consultant for your business should be no different to a selection process of any other supplier. A couple of other things to consider are:

  • Experience: a good and established franchise specialist would have not only an in-depth knowledge of the franchise industry, but also a great deal of experience in developing businesses and should be able to demonstrate a comprehensively professional approach to advising their clients. After all, apart from working on taking your business to franchise, the core business needs to be developed in parallel with the franchise in order to minimise risks and ensure success.
  • Continuity: consider whether your adviser is a stand-alone consultant or a part of a larger organisation or network. Businesses that use services of Business Advisers who are a part of larger networks are more secure in thought that their businesses are well looked after.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that a step-by-step approach is vital.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

So, the Tax Man does have a sense of humour...

Who said that Tax people don't have a sense of humour? This is a reply received from HM Revenue and Customs. The Guardian had to ask for permission to print it.

Dear Mr ,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise. I will address them, as ever, in order.

Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a "begging letter". It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a "tax demand". This is how we at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons of accuracy, traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the "endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat" has been noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from "pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers" might indicate that your decision to "file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies" is at best a little ill-advised. In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a "lackwit bumpkin" or, come to that, a "sodding charity". More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay "go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services", a moment's rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to "stump up for the whole damned party" yourself. The estimates you provide for the Chancellor's disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is pent on "junkets for Bunterish lickspittles" and "dancing whores" whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, "that box-ticking facade of a university system."

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:

  1. The reason we don't simply write "Muggins"on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;
  2. You can rest assured that "sucking the very marrow of those with nothing else to give" has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn't render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if you did choose to "give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India" you would still owe us the money.
Please send it to us by Friday.
Yours sincerely,
H J Lee
Customer Relations
HM Revenue and Customs

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Know The Value of Your Business

We, as well as our businesses, are all different. We are at different points of our lives and our respective businesses are at different stages of business life cycle. We all, however, have one thing in common. At some stage of our lives we will look to retire. Some of us will retire sooner than others, of course depending on how well the business is doing as well as how long we intend to stay in business, what we want to do with it and, if we sell it, how much we will get for it.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Business: Can't Grow OR Won't Grow?

Over the past few months when I was talking to numerous people about their strategies during this recession, I was amazed at the number of people saying "business is slow so we need to cut our costs down on staff, training and marketing" or "just sitting tight and see what happens". When I asked someone if they had considered an expansion strategy instead, they just laughed and walked away. We all seem to find an excuse not to do what is required and needed to move our businesses forward and, subsequently, the economy. Of course, it is easier to blame the government, banks, Americans (now that the Cold War is over and we can't really blame the Russians)... But how about taking responsibility for our actions? What's wrong with accepting ownership for our own businesses? Do you think that your bank will do it?

Instead of fighting and pulling together, it seems as though as this country is falling apart. We all seem to have accepted the defeat. COME ON, BRITAIN! Just ask yourself: if we all "sat tight" and did nothing, then who would we do business with? Who would buy our products or services? Who would know about us? We might as well look at that grand idea of Karl Marx and Lenin, called Communism, and consider living for non-profit and just do barter deals. We don't need money, do we?

Well, here's a thought for you to consider. YOU CAN GROW YOUR BUSINESS! How? Well... Read on...

One of the fastest, easiest and safest ways to grow your business (and there are a few) is franchising. Please allow me to demonstrate why:

UK Franchising:
  • There are currently over 809 franchise systems in the UK, which equates to 84,274 businesses
  • The franchise industry is now estimated to be worth £12.4 billion
  • There are an estimated 383,000 people employed by franchises
  • The vast majority (91%) of franchisees say they are profitable
  • More American-based franchises are looking to expand into Europe
  • Franchisors are seeking to grant over 190,000 franchise licences to aspiring business owners across the UK
  • The number of franchises in the UK has risen by 3% in the past five years
  • There are currently over 2.22 million people unemployed in the UK
  • Average redundancy payout is over £5,000
  • Redundancies and uncertainty about jobs are making thousands of people to seriously consider investing into a franchise
  • On average there are 22,000 global searches per month for people looking to buys a franchise
  • Approximately 2,000 searches were made in the UK during the month of April alone!
So, I hope that you see the potential from the above... I do not believe that there are no possibilities of growing your business out there and all of the above demonstrates it. If you don't do it, someone else will!
Imagine now, what income opportunity this could generate for you?... Now, have I got your attention?

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

You Are What You Do

Our lives are getting increasingly busier and more hectic. People in the UK work the longest hours in Europe and we seem to be proud of it! Recession doesn’t help either, does it? It is always one thing after another... Before we hit the Credit Crunch, we were too busy borrowing, expanding, building our businesses and didn’t have for anything else as we were just too hungry for more and more business. Now that we are in recession, we are far too busy saving ourselves and counting pennies. But why? When does it end? When are actually going to enjoy what we have been so busy building? Or does it mean that we are just going to bite our lip, swallow our pride and keep going until retirement? (if we have anything to retire on at all, that is)

Let’s admit it. We, Brits, are far too stubborn when it comes to asking for help. We think we know best. We can’t possibly allow someone else to look after our possessions, families, businesses... We are just not used to getting help. WE DON’T TRUST ANYONE! And when we do get help, we expect it for free (or as good as) with results exceeding our expectations.

Have you ever watched that programme “You Are What you Eat”? Would you agree that the same is true of your business and what you do? People in business sometimes have to “wear too many hats”. We all have to be
Finance Directors, Operations Directors, Strategists, Development Directors, look after Sales & Marketing and so much more... It is no wonder that things start to slip at some point: invoices are going out late; some of the bills are overdue; we lose customers because we are too busy chasing customers either for payments or trying to get new ones... Of course we have no time for strategies or planning! How would we? With everything that is on our plates! Yet, we still don’t need help! Amazing, isn’t it?

There is plenty of help out there. Granted, you need to ensure that you get the right level of support and it is worth your time and money. In my mind, any help or
advice is worth it! Do you know everything there is to know about business? Do you have time for new ideas and, more importantly, implementing them and know how to? I know I don’t and don’t pretend to either! Being a Business Advisor I don’t have to know everything about everything. I rely on support of my peers, clients and friends. People that surround me. And, yes, I have to ask for help and pay for it too. I appreciate professional advice and help and I need it. There is nothing wrong with that at all! Someone once told me that “it takes a strong person to admit one’s weaknesses”.

· Do what you do to the best of your abilities.
· Get help when it’s needed.
· Be honest, open and transparent in everything you do.

These are the mottos I live and work by. Do you?

Monday, 16 February 2009

Cutting Costs

Ever since the start of the Credit Crunch, I’ve noticed that people and businesses alike started to pay more attention to their outgoings. Should they not have been doing it from the outset?

Cash is king, recession or not! When times are hard, the first thing that businesses do is cut their costs. However, there seems to be a trend there on such cuts:

  • Jobs
  • Staff training
  • Marketing
These are not the best places to start with! Instead of going into a panic mode, businesses ought to review their outgoings and how you manage your payments to understand the situation and what it means for their future survival. Look at the spending patterns.

How do you pay your suppliers? Have you got good terms with your landlord and suppliers? Do you still use the old-fashioned cheques and pay on an ad-hoc basis as of when a bill comes through? Do you pay money into your bank account when you get a cheque?

Ask yourself these questions as a starting point. Contact your suppliers to negotiate terms that would not cripple your business in the long run and ensure that you have your cashflow forecasts updated for at least three months ahead in order to show you a full short-term picture.

In order to better understand your position, talk to specialists:
Business Advisor, your Accountant, Bank, solicitor for professional advice and guidance.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Starting Your Business

A lot of people will say that starting your own business especially in today’s economic climate is madness. But why? Don’t people need the same services? Do they not need the same products?

Perhaps we have all become more careful with our money and cut down on spending on luxury items and think twice before making a purchase. However we still need to maintain our homes, support our families, have friends and therefore have a social life, etc. Of course, in order to do that we have to work to earn money.

Now that the economy is down and a lot of businesses are downsizing with others disappearing people are worried for their jobs which sometimes creates panic and worry as to what they would do if they were not to work.

But isn’t it now the right time to look at what opportunities are out there? Competition, although still fierce, is nonetheless reducing. One thing that a recession does is filter out those businesses that do not have a plan and strategy in place to cope with difficult and critical situations, businesses that are not flexible enough to adapt and change direction if necessary. This is true of some large businesses, which is where Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have an advantage!

A lot of people I’ve met told me that the reasons they had gone into business were:

  • Redundancy
  • Decided that what they were doing for someone they could do for themselves
  • Wanted to be their own boss
  • Wanted a change in life-style and couldn’t achieve while being employed
Whatever the reasons for starting a business are, the key to starting a good business is preparation and planning. If you do not have that roadmap, then how do you know which way to go? How do you know that you future business will be a success? How would you develop and grow your business?
If you are thinking of starting your own business then a lot of work must be done and a lot of points must be considered:
  • Legal entity: Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company?
  • Start-up capital and where it come from
  • Sales & Marketing strategy
  • What equipment is required
  • Premises
  • Location
  • Pricing levels
  • Suppliers, etc.
Get help and advice from specialists, such as Business Advisors, Accountants, Business Link, banks.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Liquidity in Business – Where to Look For Help

We all hear on the news that the banks don’t lend and businesses suffer through lack of that support. But why don’t they lend and where can SMEs go for help when a business has a viable product or service but all that it needs is finance?

Firstly, contrary to what we see and hear in the media, banks still provide lending to businesses. However, their criteria have changed as they had to tighten the rules. For too long did the banks provide finance to businesses that would not be able to afford it or would not qualify for. In addition to that, was it the right type of finance in the first place? But let’s not dwell on things that happened in the past. It’s onwards and upwards, as they say...One good thing that some banks are doing is actively trying to help businesses by providing information on how to manage your money and trade through the economic downturn. One of such banks is RBS with their Money Sense for Business. Have a look at their latest information page.

If you are looking for finance for your business, firstly, identify what the loan is for. Is it for training? Purchase of assets? Or another type of project in your business? This will provide you with a number of options of what type of finance you would need and where to go for it. There are numerous options out there on the market. If you are not sure what finance to apply for, click here for help and speak to your accountant or another independent specialist / business advisor who will be able to advise and help you.

Once you know what type of finance you require for your business growth and development, be sure to prepare to answer a lot of questions!Here are some tips to prepare an application for business finance:

  • Get your Business Plan up-to-date
  • Clearly state what the finance is for. Outline how this finance (or what it is for) will assist your business
  • Do your research. Find out who your main competitors are and what makes you stand out from them
  • Get your financials in order: it is usually a requirement to supply 3 years’ accounts for established businesses.
  • In some cases lenders would accept Management Accounts
  • Get your business and personal bank statements for the last 6 months as some lenders will not consider your application without them
  • Prepare a details cashflow forecast. Remember, you must demonstrate that you can afford this borrowing and it will not drain your business and personal finances
There are also other options for businesses, such as De Minimis Aid, which includes various schemes either provided or supported by the government. These include:
  • Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme (SFLGS): this is where a security is required by a lender, but it is not available from a business or its owner(s). If a business is qualified for such a scheme, the government will underwrite 75% of the loan. You may still have to find the remaining 25% worth of security though
  • Government grants through Business Link and Local Authorities
  • Train To Gain
Contact the relevant body to seek further information.