It has been more than a month since I last wrote a post. I guess there has been so much happening that I did not get much time to do this. Since the 6th of April I have been contemplating the pro’s and cons of buying a franchise. The amount of research that has to be done is mind boggling. There are so many aspects to consider, I didn’t really know where to start. Then, out of desperation I started to look at what resources the web has to offer. This actually made the research more difficult.
Then I read the March edition of the South African Entrepreneurs magazine [http://www.entrepreneurmag.co.za/]. Although its main focus is franchising, there is a wealth of information pertaining to any kind of business. When I looked up their website, I was quite surprised of the depth of information contained there. One link on example business plans took me to the www.bplans.com website. I registered to be able to download the free plans. Up to now I am glad I did, because after doing a short survey on my specific requirements, I got well structured emails that explained this field of study systematically. Of course, they do punt their LivePlan software – but one can learn a lot just reading on what a business plan is all about.
One article I recently read made me think again on what factors are most important when contemplating a business or startup. It lies in the question of what problem are you solving for your future client. Sure, things like skills, expertise, market conditions, finances, location all matter, but not as much as the ability to make your customer’s pain disappear. Uber worldwide solved many stranded commuter’s problems by providing a service with a linked smartphone application to make their transport worries go away, and that without even owning a single vehicle.
Indivineur(TM) Willem Gous taught me the same principle about the pain/pleasure approach, but I think combined with the right business plan to back it up, it must be the only guarantee for success. When a possible partner and I looked at buying a franchise in the electrical consumer product retail supply, we looked at performances of similar stores. Apart from the astronomical costs to start up such a store, the question of whether we would be solving any pains in the area that we were looking at, was … well, questionable. it dawned on me that we did not know for sure what the real market conditions were. Unfortunately it looks like the franchisor has not done this research either and this leaves us in a very difficult and vulnerable position. We are still hoping that we will be getting some insight into the real market needs of the area, without down payments into non-recoverable market research costs.
If you have a good idea of how to solve someones’ pain through an innovative plan, why not put it on paper and start writing your own business plan. Who knows, when you meet the right people that you can involve as partners or investors, you may quit your 9-5 job and start doing something you always dreamed of. And if it involves any electrical or automation design, be sure to give me a call!