From Employee, to an Entrepreneur

Many unemployed are becoming self-employed.
The recovery in the job market just hasn’t happened. So, many people who lost their jobs well after the recession ended in June 2009 have decided not to look for work. They’ve gone into business for themselves.
Starting a company can be daunting. Some entrepreneurs have made the process easier by buying a franchise business. But they still have challenges. There’s a steep learning curve — maybe many learning curves — in making the transition from employee to entrepreneur. It’s a completely different lifestyle, often requiring longer hours. And many new owners are trying to work out personal difficulties while trying to build a business.
Here are the stories of two people who started companies in the last year.
From advertising to senior care
Chris Blaine was the vice president of branding and advertising at an insurance company in Omaha, Neb., when he was laid off in December 2009. He decided to open his own business, one that would give him more control over his future. So he chose a Home Instead Senior Care franchise.
Unlike Muzal, Blaine opened a business in an industry that was entirely new to him. So the idea of having a ready-made business model was appealing. “Rather than try to do everything from scratch, it made more sense for me to leverage the model,” he said.
He chose a health care-related business because it is a growing industry. Blaine noted that 10,000 people are turning 65 each day, which means demand for home health care will keep rising.
Blaine decided to buy an existing franchise in Branson, Mo. That operation was struggling, but Blaine, who took the business over on Nov. 1, 2010, has been turning it around.
He does face challenges. Even though health care is growing, the economy is still a problem for businesses like Blaine’s. Health insurance generally doesn’t cover home care for seniors, so Blaine’s revenue, while up 22 percent from a year ago, isn’t what it would be in a stronger economy.
And uprooting his family has meant an adjustment. Blaine and his wife have four children ages two to nine.
But Blaine sees the decision to take on a business as the right one after having worked for corporations for 15 years. He says that by buying the franchise, “I could marry my desire to make a difference in people’s lives with my business acumen.”
From information services to bookkeeping
Alison Muzal knew several months ahead of time that she was going to lose her job at in the information technology division of a big corporation. So she began looking into the idea of running her own company. She had an accounting degree and an MBA, and had more than 20 years of experience in bookkeeping and accounting. So it made sense to her to go in a field she was familiar with. She decided to buy a BookKeeping Express Franchise. She opened it last October.
Many entrepreneurs choose to open a franchise because it comes with an established business model. A franchise that has been around for a while already has name recognition. And if the corporation owning the franchise is well-run, it will provide support and assistance to franchisees.
But even with a franchise, Muzal has had the same kind of adjustment period as most people who start a business after working for someone else. “In the corporate world, I have a very specific focus. Now, it’s not only am I doing the books, I’m doing the marketing and I’m managing my own business accounting,” she said.
Marketing has been especially challenging. Even a franchise owner has to go out and find customers or clients. And Muzal said, “it was new to me and outside my comfort zone.”
She has gotten help from other business people. She took advantage of the services offered by SCORE, which gives free advice and runs workshops for small business owners on all aspects of business, including marketing. She has become active in her local chamber of commerce and attended networking events.
There have been other challenges. Muzal learned that owning a business requires “a lot of discipline and a lot of time. If you’re used to 40 hours work a week, you should at least double that time.”
The weak economy hasn’t helped. “I wish I could say everything is wonderful and rosy and I’m making more money than I expected, but I’m not.” And Muzal has had a tremendous personal challenge, the recent death of her partner.
But a year into her venture, Muzal says, “I’m enjoying it. I still feel it was the right decision to make.”
Lee Thomas,
“Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise/Business for THEIR Success”
Franchise Paths to Success, a dba of
Integrity Business Ventures, Inc. 888 701-6413

Mobile Franchises Are Becoming More Popular

Mobile Franchises are Becoming More Popular
A lot of franchise buyers are looking to get into the driver’s seat. Literally.
Over the past several years, there’s been a rising interest in mobile franchises, whose owners work out of a van, truck or trailer, driving around their territories to meet customers in their homes or elsewhere.
These businesses—which offer everything from flavored ices to drug testing—have a simple appeal to buyers: low start-up costs. With financing tight these days, potential owners are eager to save on leasing and building out real estate.
But with the lower costs come potential headaches. Owners and franchise experts say that there are hidden hassles to look out for, such as dealing with local parking restrictions or figuring out how to market a business that doesn’t have a fixed address. And, of course, the mobile setup isn’t for people who want a controlled work environment. It’s best suited to people who like being on the road constantly, meeting with customers.
“I enjoy the lifestyle,” says Shane McClements, a franchisee for auto-repair service Touch Up Guys in Scottsdale, Ariz. “You’re out and about and not in the office or store looking at the same scene all the time.”
New mobile brands have been popping up and expanding in recent years. USA Mobile Drug Testing, for instance, has grown to 42 franchisees in 20 states since launching in mid-2010. FRANdata, a research firm in Arlington, Va., looked at a sample of 57 brands and found that they grew more than 19%, to 20,734 units, from 2006 to 2010.
In some sectors, growth in mobile units exceeded that in the overall sector, which includes home-based and storefront franchises. For instance, in FRANdata’s sample, the number of mobile units in handyman services rose 19%, compared with a decline of 5% overall. Mobile bathroom-remodeling franchises grew 26%, compared with 13% for the entire sector, while mobile units in plumbing and electric services rose 25%, more than the 17% overall growth rate.
“Every time we turn around, there’s another that’s getting into the [mobile] space,” says Stephen Caldeira, chief executive officer of the International Franchise Association trade group in Washington, D.C.
Cost is a key driver of growth. The typical price tag for starting up a mobile franchise is less than $150,000, compared with a far larger amount, sometimes exceeding $1 million, for a storefront franchise, explains Mr. Caldeira.
At Game Dudes, which sends out vans equipped with videogames to kids’ parties and other events, the initial investment ranges from $115,000 to $140,000, says owner Michael Carter. The total includes a 24-foot Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, training and marketing support for a grand-opening event.
Some mobile franchises cost even less than that. A franchise for dog-grooming service Pooch Mobile requires an upfront investment of $59,000 for a franchise territory, a trailer outfitted with a water-pressurized dog bath, two weeks of training, marketing materials, grooming tools and shampoo to wash 100 dogs, says Annie Ellmers, the U.S. franchiser for the company, which started in Australia.
Along with lower start-up costs, a mobile franchise can bring higher profit margins because owners don’t have to shoulder costs associated with real estate. Most mobile franchisees handle back-office duties and paperwork out of a home office. Franchisees may also end up storing supplies in their basement or renting a commercial storage locker.
A mobile franchise carries other costs that may not be obvious at first. For instance, marketing. A franchisee might think that driving around town in the vehicle, usually emblazoned with the company logo, is enough of an advertisement. But it isn’t, franchisees say.
Unlike a storefront franchise, a mobile franchise “is not stationary so that people can see you and remember you at 123 Rose Avenue,” says Mr. Carter of Game Dudes. “The truck helps, but if people see you, they can’t go back and find you.”
So, like any other franchisee, mobile franchisees need to spend to promote their businesses through the local newspaper and Chamber of Commerce, direct mail and online marketing.
Then there’s parking. Many neighborhoods don’t allow commercial vehicles to sit overnight on the street or even in a driveway, so the franchisee who doesn’t have an enclosed garage may have to pay for an off-site commercial parking spot. In that case, the franchisee would probably also have to pay more to insure the vehicle and install a security system.
Working on the customers’ stomping ground also has its pitfalls, such as the client who stands and chats while you’re trying to work. “It’s their area and they’re comfortable there, and you can’t direct them to the customer lounge,” says Mr. McClements of Touch Up Guys.
And when an awkward situation crops up, franchisees have to grin and bear it. Mr. McClements recalls a car-repair job in a customer’s particularly smelly garage. “I think she had mold, and maybe some garden mulch in there,” he recalls, laughing.
Ms. Lee is a writer in Belmont, Calif. She can be reached at
Provided by
Lee Thomas,
“Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise/Business for THEIR Success”
Franchise Paths to Success, a dba of
Integrity Business Ventures, Inc. 888 701-6413

Make Your Employees Your “Marketing Missionaries”

Make your Employees your “Marketing Missionaries”
Every employee that comes into contact with a prospect or client is performing a marketing function for your company. The question is, do they know how to perform that marketing function in a way that represents the organization accurately and positively.
Business owners should add marketing training as a major component of the ongoing development of every member of the staff. This includes new hires as well as ongoing training for all employees.
Below are the kinds of things that should be included in the marketing training of your staff.
Here’s how to spot our ideal client.
Write a paragraph that paints a vivid picture of the kind of client you seek, including the kinds of problems or challenges they are experiencing that make them right for you. “What is their pain?”
Here’s how to present our unique point of differentiation.
Give your staff a simple way to introduce what your company does that’s unique. This is your core marketing message packaged in an elevator pitch kind of way. It is your “UNIQUE SALES PROPOSITION”.
Let them practice this in role-playing situations until they are comfortable delivering it in an authentic manner.
These are the trigger phrases for our prospects.
People rarely walk around saying they need your product or service. What they do, however, is lament the lack of something, talk about specific problems or state an aspiration.
Instead of saying I wish I had some new accounting software they say things like I can’t ever get a handle on my receivables.
Your entire staff should know the most common things people actually say that would indicate they could be an ideal prospect.
These are our brand standards for images, colors and type.
It’s funny how much time and money you might might spend on getting the image, color and font just right, but then everyone else in the business that creates communication just wings it.
The best way to adhere to brand standards is to make them internal as well as external. Train everyone on the use of color, type and images and demand that they adhere to these standards in internal communication. This will ensure that everyone is consistent in the use of the visual elements of your marketing.
Make employees aware of your current lead generation campaign.
Show off your latest ads, direct mail creative and offers that are being put out in every medium. Make sure that your entire staff can talk about your current promotions.
Not only does this allow them to feel more engaged in the marketing, it equips them to talk about it when asked.
Here’s how we educate and serve our customers.
Make sure the entire staff is required to read the company blog, understands all of the educational content, attends your online training and routinely takes a shift answering customer service calls.
Here’s how to refer a prospective client or employee.
Make employee referrals an expectation and place appropriate emphasis on it by turning it into a game with a clear set of rules and way to win. This assumes that every employee is “on board” with the company’s mission.
All of the education done in the previously mentioned steps will make this a natural focus.
Here’s how we measure marketing success.
Show your staff how to know if they are winning the game. Share the key strategic indicators your organization uses to measure success. Teach them what these indicators mean and help them dig in and find a way to tie what they do to one or more of these numbers.
If you can get every employee to realize the way their day-to-day contribution is added to a key indicator of success and ultimately to the overall success of the organization you give them a way to connect everything they do with success.
Every business is a marketing business and all employees, trained in this manner, can become contributing members of the marketing team, no matter their job title.
Lee Thomas,
“Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise/Business for THEIR Success”
Franchise Paths to Success, a dba of
Integrity Business Ventures, Inc. 888 701-6413

Veterans Show Their Colors as Business Owners

As we honor veterans for their military service to the United States, we can also salute their contributions to the economy.

Veterans owned 9% of U.S. businesses in 2007, according to the most recent census data. Those businesses generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, or about 4.1% of all business receipts nationwide, and employed nearly 5.8 million people. (The U.S. Census Bureau released the figures in May.)

The International Franchise Association says that 1 in 7 franchise businesses is owned and operated by veterans. That translates to roughly 66,000 veteran-owned franchise businesses in the United States, providing jobs for 815,000 people and generating more than $41 billion annually.

The Right Stuff
Ranger Up leads (L to R): Tom Amenta, COO; Tim Kennedy, partner; Nick Palmisciano, CEO.
Nick Palmisciano, who started the apparel company Ranger Up with some Army buddies in 2006, believes military experience can be great training for creating a business. “Veterans never quit, are extremely creative and industrious, and are exceedingly mission focused. These three attributes are essential to succeeding as an entrepreneur,” he said.

“Because of their training and discipline, countless military veterans have found franchised business to be a perfect fit for their skills,” said Brian Miller, president and COO of The Entrepreneur’s Source.

Steve Burnett, a Navy veteran and owner of Tasti D-Lite in Jacksonville, Fla., agrees. “Franchises seem to me a natural fit for a vet since we are used to following orders, rules, a system. Franchisors have a proven system which if followed is usually successful.”

Key Support and Funding Sources

To start and/or grow their businesses, veterans can get help from unique funding opportunities.

“The Patriot Express Loan was invaluable,” said Palmisciano, whose business is based in Durham, N.C. He and his partners were able to expand Ranger Up in its third year of operation, and they qualified for the loan with 10% collateral (compared with 50% for similar businesses).

Burnett noted that Tasti D-Lite participates in the Vet-Fran Program, which gave him a 25% discount on the franchise fee. He also got a loan for equipment from the Navy Federal Credit Union.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website lists several resources available to help veterans start businesses, including the Veteran Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC), the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), and loan programs, including the Patriot Express Loan.

Tips for Success

Steven Carey, a former Air Force fighter pilot who retired as a colonel after more than 30 years of service, started CertaPro Painters in 2008, and it has become one of the top home-painting businesses in the Mobile Bay area of southern Alabama.

He offers four steps for fellow veterans who may want to start a business:
• Take a behavioral test that assesses your strengths and weakness. It will help you determine your suitability for running a particular business.
• Join service organizations like the Air Force Association or the Military Officers Association of America and begin networking with those who have jumped on the entrepreneurial wagon.
• Call five business owners in your local area who have demonstrated success. Sit down over lunch and listen to their story.
• Make sure you are mentally and fiscally ready to take on the challenge of running a business.

“Being an entrepreneur is the most satisfying thing I have ever done, with the exception of being an infantry platoon leader,” Palmisciano said. “But you will work twice as hard as you ever have, and it’ll cost four times as much and take eight times as long to be successful as you expected.”

Michael Kothakota, who started WolfBridge Financial just over two years ago and has seen 200% growth since inception, offered a final tip: “Don’t be afraid to be creative. We’ve all had to do something like jury rig a humvee with duct tape to get the mission done. This is no different.”

By Tom Musbach | Yahoo! Small Business Advisor – Tue, Nov 8, 2011 7:12 PM EST

Provided by
Lee Thomas,
“Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise/Business for THEIR Success”
Franchise Paths to Success, a dba of
Integrity Business Ventures, Inc. 888 701-6413

Following Her Passion Led to One Franchisee’s Success

When Peggy Kennedy says she’s working near capacity, she’s no longer talking in terms of late nights at the office, polishing PowerPoint presentations. For Kennedy, who formerly worked in financial services on the East Coast and found refuge as a West Coast pet-care industry franchise owner, nowadays it’s about the time she and her staff spend caring for clients of the four-legged variety.
“I’m working all the time–weekends, vacations, I’m always checking in. And I’m adding administrative staff just to keep up,” says Kennedy, referring to the Fetch! Pet Care franchise she’s been running in the Los Angeles area since 2006. Buoyed by a largely word-of-mouth clientele sprinkled with Hollywood celebs and their pets, her pet-sitting and dog-walking operation hit all-time highs this summer for monthly revenue, grossing more than $30,000, up from $1,500 in its early days.
The revenue surge by Kennedy’s operation, one of 140 Fetch! franchises in 32 states, even caught the attention of Fetch! CEO Paul Mann, who founded the company in 2002. Aware that Kennedy was logging long hours at work, Mann says he recently urged her to “slow down and get some [administrative] support.”
If Kennedy is working too hard, it’s because of her passion for companion animals. When she’s not managing a force of 40 part-time contractors, she’s volunteering at a local animal shelter or bringing pets into her home for foster care. “One thing that’s really admirable about Peggy is her volunteer work. That woman just has the biggest heart,” Mann says. “The business demands a skill set strong in operations, marketing, staffing and managing people, Mann explains. “Obviously these are people who love pets. Often they come from a job in middle management, looking for something they can have as their own,” he says.
Kennedy more than fits the bill, Mann says: “We got lucky with Peg. She absolutely represents what this business is about. She’s loving and caring, reliable, professional and smart, with a good head for running a business. She’s always asking us questions and learning. That’s been a key to her success.”
In 2005, when Kennedy abandoned her corporate cubicle at Capital One in Boston to move west with her husband, she resolved to turn her lifelong love of animals into work in the pet-care field. After a stint volunteering at an animal shelter in Utah, she found Fetch! and initially worked as a dog trainer and walker for another franchisee near L.A., then as a franchise owner herself.
Beyond word-of-mouth, Kennedy has relied on networking with other pet-care professionals (groomers, veterinarians, etc.), and more recently on social media marketing tools, including Facebook, Twitter and a new blog, to help the 5-year-old franchise succeed in a business that’s both highly seasonal and highly vulnerable to economic downturns.
“She’s in the business for the love of the business, not to get rich,” Mann says. “That’s a good place to be coming from.”
“I’m not getting rich by any means, but we’re paying the bills, and I make my own hours doing something I love. It’s a different–and nice–lifestyle, ” Kennedy says.
Then there are the perks: spending quality time with animals, some of which come with a celebrity attachment. As busy as she’s been, Kennedy has been forced to relinquish some clients to her contractors. Still, she says she gets the pick of the litter: “A few of the stars I’ve held onto.”
Lee Thomas,
“Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise/Business for THEIR Success”
Franchise Paths to Success, a dba of
Integrity Business Ventures, Inc. 888 701-6413

When Your Bank Won’t Make You a Business Loan

When Your Bank Won’t Make a Business Loan
Study alternative financing sources such as angel investing groups, crowdfunding sites, microfinance organizations, and internet lender “aggregators” then prepare to prove you’re worth betting on
Small business lending has been tight for the past few years, due to a combination of stricter lending standards embraced during the financial crisis and a downturn in loan demand. Although U.S. commercial lending is on an upward trend this year, startup business funding from banks tends to be nonexistent, even in the best of times.
Most loan officers want to see at least two years of solid revenue and a track record to fuel future success before they will consider making a small business loan. Add a bankruptcy on your record within the past seven years, and your chances with even the most knowledgeable and empathetic bank officer are pretty much nil, unless you have a business partner with good credit or someone who is willing to co-sign a loan with you.
“Bankers want to make loans: It’s how we make money. And we live and work with businesspeople in our communities and we want to see them succeed,” says Robert C. Seiwert, senior vice-president and director of the American Bankers Assn.’s Center for Commercial Lending & Business Banking. “But we make loans. We don’t knowingly make equity investments in businesses because we don’t get paid for that.”
While getting a bank loan is something you should put off for a couple of years, the good news is that a recent study shows that small businesses that have had past bankruptcies do not fare any worse than their nonbankrupt counterparts. Here are alternative funding sources you can investigate:
• Find ways to bootstrap your startup so that you can fund it yourself. There are myriad business services available online, offered for free or at low cost. If your business idea is one that you can build up gradually on nights and weekends, you can keep your day job so you don’t need to live off the income from your business. With reasonable technology costs, home-based service companies often start operations for under $10,000. Some get started on even less.
• Talk to friends and relatives about whether they can help you with a short-term loan or small investment in your startup. Make sure you put legal agreements in place with these people to avoid disputes about repayment or equity shares later on.
• Crowdfunding is a relatively new solution, facilitated through online platforms designed to support businesses and creative projects. Some crowdfunding sites are aimed at funding artistic projects with donations that do not have to be repaid; others basically arrange peer-to-peer lending. Look at popular sites such as Kickstarter and Prosper to get an idea of how the process works. One caveat: Many of the loan-focused sites will request your credit score and charge you a higher interest rate if your score is low.
However, Eric Eckardt, founder and chief executive officer of VBizPartner, says his new site does not take credit reports into account as it helps entrepreneurs raise money through their social networks. You can propose the interest rate you want; most small business owners are currently choosing from 4 percent to 7 percent, he says. “Some are amortized and some are interest-only, with a balloon payment at the end of the term. If they start [to raise funds] and are not generating interest, they can come in and change the interest rate,” Eckardt says. His company, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., takes a 5 percent fee on any money raised.
• Microfinance may be an option for you. Check with your city or regional economic development center. These agencies have a mandate to boost businesses in their area and many offer resources for entrepreneurs. City or county personnel may be able to refer you to a regional nonprofit investment fund or a community development agency that makes loans to microbusiness owners in your area. They also may have ties to local angel investors, although you will have to get your business running and make substantial investment in it yourself before you’ll be eligible for private investment.
• As you’re getting your company operational, establish a relationship with a local or regional bank that specializes in small business lending. Get to know some of the bank officers, perhaps through your local Chamber of Commerce or municipal business-development association, and keep in contact for future loan possibilities. Credit unions also make small business loans, so opening an account with one of them and inquiring about their lending policies can’t hurt either.
Another good source is Boefly. They now have aggregated over 100 lenders across the US. Each lender provides their lending criteria, which Boefly put into their database. Then they “match” the lenders criteria to the borrowers situation. They can be found at
Lee Thomas,
“Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise/Business for THEIR Success”
Franchise Paths to Success, a dba of
Integrity Business Ventures, Inc. 888 701-6413


In any endeavor of importance in the life experience, Fear is a natural component of that experience. Consider, if you will, marriage, childbirth, dental or medical treatments, and major purchases (home, car, etc.). They all have a certain amount of fear associated with them. The same is true for going into business/becoming a Franchise owner.
You can anticipate the “Fear Factor” to increase the closer you get to having to make a definitive decision. Therefore, the question becomes will Fear be a motivator, causing you to be careful, cautious, and do appropriate due diligence? Or, will Fear be an inhibitor, paralyzing or stopping you from making appropriate decisions that could enhance your life?
If you choose to let Fear be an inhibitor, you choose to allow Fear to control your destiny. You abdicate the responsibility for your life to it. Indeed, your destiny will never reach its full potential, and your life experience will only manifest a small degree of what it could be.
How can you make Fear work in your favor, i.e., be your motivator ? The answer is KNOWLEDGE. When you strive to acquire a full spectrum of knowledge on any life endeavor, the paralyzing attributes of Fear are reduced and even eliminated.
Knowledge is power. It becomes the power to effect change, and to create positive change in your life. Change, in life, is inevitable, and it can be the seed for growth. But, growth is optional, and it is up to you. If you use knowledge to make Fear “your motivator, it becomes the engine for your positive growth. With knowledge, you significantly increase the probability of success in life. You will reach your life’s full potential. The choice is yours.
I think a quote from the late Steve Jobs is appropriate:
“The benefit of death is you know not to waste life living someone else’s choices. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Lee Thomas,
“Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise/Business for THEIR Success”
Franchise Paths to Success, a dba of
Integrity Business Ventures, Inc. 888 701-6413

What do successful people do differently than others?

What do successful people do differently than others?

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.
1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.
To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.
3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.
Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.
7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.
To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.
8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.
If you want change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.
It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.
By Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorsen,
Provided by:
Lee Thomas,
Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise for Their SUCCESS
Franchise Paths to Success
888 701-6413

Two Basic Types of Franchises: Is One Right For You?

It is important to understand the basics of franchising. There are two basic types of franchises, product distribution and business format. Product distribution franchises simply sell the franchise’s products. Business format franchises are the most common and include assistance with the complete business model including marketing and operation manuals.
A franchise can reduce some of the unknowns when starting a business, however it does limit the amount of independence you have as a business owner. In the June issue of Entrepreneur, the top 101 home-based franchises are listed from the Entrepreneur’s 2011 Franchise 500.
Here are a few of the franchises mentioned in the article. Commercial cleaning services franchises such as Vanguard Cleaning Systems, Stratus Building Solutions, Bonus Building Care and CleanNet USA Inc. Other franchises listed include Fast-teks On-site Computer Services, The Utility Company and Computer Troubleshooters that offer computer and technology services.
There are also franchises for pet sitting services, home management and staging services, along with home-care services. According to the article, almost all of the franchises listed can be started for less than $50,000.
An example of a successful larger franchisee is Avery Walker from College Station. Walker moved from Austin to open Volvo Rents, a franchise that rents and sells heavy equipment to construction companies and other businesses. Walker’s business hit $1.1 million in revenues in 2008 her first year and $4 million last year. Walker said, “I definitely work more than I did in a corporate job, but I have more control over our financial decisions.”
If you decide a franchise is the right approach for your business idea, you have to do your homework. Research the franchise and the business model. If possible, talk with others who purchased the franchise to learn more about how the franchise works, and how much support you receive from the franchise company. It will be absolutely necessary for you to determine the business’s potential sales, expenses and profits, just like any other business model.
Not all franchises work in every market. Ask the franchise company to help you with a feasibility study in your market. Many franchises will have a company representative in the area to help you.
Look for a franchise company that offers training and possibly a mentor program. The benefit of a franchise is the support and training you would not have available if you go it alone.
If you are considering a franchise, research your options. Keep in mind the upfront costs for a franchise do not include a guarantee of success. A good resource for prospective franchising is the International Franchise Association. There are also state regulatory agencies and several online resources for franchise companies and franchisees.
Lee Thomas,
Helping People into the RIGHT Franchise for Their SUCCESS
Franchise Paths to Success
888 701-6413

The Pet Care Business is Still Doing Well

The economy may be struggling, but many Americans won’t skimp when it comes to the care of their pets.
Many non-veterinary pet care companies in the St. Louis area report booming demand for such services as grooming and pet sitting, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( ).
“People care about their pets like family and don’t like the idea of their pet being home alone all day or, if boarded, locked up,” said Carol Mees, owner and operator of St. Louis Pet Sitters, whose business is increasing by 35 to 40 pets per year.
The American Pet Products Association reports that U.S. households will likely spend more than $50 billion on pets in 2011, up 23 percent from $41.2 billion in 2007. About $4 billion of that total is expected to be spent this year on services like boarding and grooming.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of non-veterinary pet care firms that opened in the St. Louis area rose from 84 in 1999 to 152 in 2009. That didn’t include home-based businesses or sole proprietors.
Pet service work has traditionally been done by family friends, neighbors and their children. That has changed recently as franchises have grown rapidly in the industry.
Randy Ring began a Fetch! Pet Care franchise in St. Louis in 2005. Revenue has increased by 10 percent in each of the past two years. Fetch!, based in California, has more than 150 franchisees who work as sort of a broker for pet sitters and owners, pairing them up to provide in-home care for pets.
At first Ring was his own employee and had only a handful of clients, but he now has 15 part-time contractors – students, stay-at-home parents and retirees who have been vetted by the company – and serves more than 700 clients in the St. Louis area.
Pet care isn’t entirely impervious to the tough economic climate. Janet McCann, owner of Pet Sitters Inc. in St. Louis, said that in nearly 30 years of business, last summer was the worst. Bookings are up this year, though still not to pre-recession levels.
Lee Thomas,
Placing People in the RIGHT Franchise for Their SUCCESS
Franchise Paths to Success
888 701-6413