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Why Finding a Mentor is So Important when Starting a Franchise

It’s a well-worn trope in countless blockbuster action movies. The hero, regardless of their power, stumbles at some point and realizes they need someone to help guide them and overcome their challenges.

Building an emerging franchise brand may not be as dramatic as a superhero preventing the end of life as we know it. However, the stakes for your business and personal wellbeing are just as high.

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Having a mentor as you get your feet underneath yourself as an emerging franchisor can be an invaluable asset to help guide you away from common pitfalls and help act as a sounding board for new ideas and strategies that may arise during the planning phase of starting a franchise. It’s important that mentor be well-versed in franchising in order to play that key role and be a positive force.

Here’s a closer look at the role mentorship can play when you’re starting or growing a franchise:

Beat the Odds

The statistics about business failure are telling when it comes to just how slippery the slope can become. Within the first year of business, 20 percent of companies fail, and 50 percent fail within the first five years.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of small-business owners who had a mentor when starting their companies survived for over five years. Although it’s just one study, the data suggests mentorship is a key variable in helping business owners avoid becoming a statistic for small-business failure rates.

Extrapolated to an emerging franchise concept, the essential role of a mentor can be even more impactful. You’re not simply opening a single business but potentially a network of hundreds of businesses.

If you want to be a franchise brand that makes the transition from emerging to mature, you need to ensure your initial units are as strong and profitable as possible, which may require the expertise of a mentor who’s already helped entrepreneurs successfully start a franchise.

It Can Get Lonely at the Top

As the president or CEO of an emerging franchise brand, you will likely have a limited number of people on your corporate team. You may have individuals in place to handle operations, marketing and franchise development, and in most cases these people will be looking to you to be the leader and visionary for the brand. On top of that, you’ll have a group of franchisees who will similarly be depending on you for their livelihood during the early stages of franchising.

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The weight of that responsibility can become a burden if you don’t have anyone to turn to for guidance and support. A mentor not only has the knowledge and first-hand experience you can use to build a strong foundation for your emerging concept, but he or she will also bring an objective, third-party perspective to whatever issues you’re facing. They’ve “been there, done that” and can help you overcome feelings of being overwhelmed and help you grow by staying focused on your goals.

Fill in Knowledge and Experience Gaps

For those starting a franchise for the first time, there’s an added level of complexity compared to starting an individual business. Before you even get started franchising your concept, you need to consider:

  • Is your existing business profitable on an individual location basis?
  • Is your business model replicable?
  • Are you properly capitalized?
  • Have you determined the differentiators that make your brand unique?
  • Is there a reasonable demand for the product or service you offer?
  • Will franchising provide an adequate return for you as a franchisor?
  • Are you able to commit to the level of support you will need to provide value to franchisees and to the system?

A mentor can help guide you through many of these questions and more. He or she will collaborate with you, push you to remain focused on your key objectives and provide the solutions that will help you achieve them. For example, a mentor with a background in franchising can help you establish more accurate forecasting models for growth, capital investment expectations and vendor relationships that can foster operational efficiency from the very beginning.

Develop a Trusting Relationship

A mentor typically has no financial stake in your growth. He or she has a wealth of experience they’ve accumulated and feel the need to share it to help others grow. This provides a strong foundation for building a robust, long-lasting relationship that extends through the life of your emerging franchise concept and beyond.

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Your mentor is someone you can turn to for more than knowledge sharing. Mentors will inevitably need to be a source of external motivation and inspiration for emerging franchisors so they can make it through difficult times. Only with a trusted mentor with whom you share similar values will you find that genuine, authentic support.

With 30 years of franchising experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing over 1,250 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help mentor those looking to grow their businesses through franchising. Contact us here or at (844) 234-8520.