Rachel Ray, founder of Bright & Beautiful, highlights what you need to know before making the leap and the advantages of becoming a franchisee
Going from regular, steady employment to owning your own business is one of the biggest and scariest steps you can take in your life. But whenever you talk to an entrepreneur, very few of them will say they regret it and most admit they’d struggle to go back to working for someone else.
Going down the franchise route is a fantastic way to become your own boss, but with the support, advice, expertise and proven success a lot of new business owners struggle to find.
So what do you need to know before making the leap and what are the advantages of becoming your own boss?
Flexibility and freedom
People set up their franchise businesses at all ages and times of their lives and an increasing number of people I know say that for them the light went on when they became parents.
Like me, a lot of them went back to work after having their children and were hugely committed to it, but just had that feeling that there must be a better way of doing it. I know I wanted to find a better way of being a mum, a professional, a wife, a daughter and a friend that meant I didn’t feel guilty, stressed and exhausted all the time.
Becoming your own franchise boss will give you that flexibility - you can decide when you answer your emails or when you take the kids to the zoo - but you also get out what you put in. No one ever made a success of a business by not working hard at it, but doing it for yourself means you choose when to switch on and when to switch off, something that’s very hard to put a price on.
Find something you’re passionate about
They always say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. It always makes me smile because my business, a domestic housekeeping franchise, was inspired because I hate doing the cleaning and ironing.
But I did love having a beautiful home and was frustrated at not being able to find a cleaning company that didn’t use harsh chemical products that made me feel ill when I was pregnant. That’s when I had my eureka moment and started to research the potential for a cleaning business that was ethical, family friendly and used non-toxic products.
By the time I was due to return to work, I knew there was a market for this business and I was determined to make a go of it. Bright & Beautiful was officially born in 2007, delivering professional, ecofriendly cleaning, tidying, laundry and ironing.
Embrace new things
I think one of the most exciting things about going from being employed to having your own franchise business is that you never stop learning. If I had stayed in my business consultancy job, I certainly wouldn’t be designing marketing campaigns, hosting training sessions for hundreds of women or getting to grips with the wonders of social media.
Similarly, every time I talk to the women who now run their own Bright & Beautiful franchises they tell me how much they’re loving developing their Twitter audiences, speaking at local business events and training their own teams.
A huge trend in business at the moment is start-ups that are operating right at the heart of the community and it’s so encouraging to see small businesses sitting alongside the big boys on the high street.
When I went from flying all over the world and splitting my time between Manchester and London to running my business where I live in Altrincham, I loved getting to know the shops, streets, schools and community groups that were on my doorstep. Running a franchise where you live is a fantastic opportunity to play a big part in that community - and social media is making it even easier.
I started Bright & Beautiful with just £200 and a single client, but I knew from the word go that I wanted it to become a national business.
Starting with one team of professional housekeepers, I then developed the business into a franchise model and quickly grew in size, first in our home region of the north west and then across the country.
Franchising offers you a great chance to both start and grow a business - by buying other territories, developing new services and becoming the market leader in your area - and we support and encourage all our franchisees in their growth ambitions.
Find your unique selling point
A question any start-up business has to ask is what makes what I’m doing better than anyone else? For me, it was very much about being able to offer a quality and ethical service that supported our teams as much as our clients.
If you can find a franchise opportunity that chimes with your goals, dreams and lifestyle, you’ve got it made. If you’re going out and selling your services or products to the world, you have to be passionate about what you have to offer and know you are the best.
Eight years after our first cleaning job, Bright & Beautiful is now an award winning business that employs over 460 professional housekeepers and has 50 franchises across the country.
And the best thing is that the people who come to us wanting to set up their own Bright & Beautiful franchise are often just like me - bright, ambitious women and men who want a great career, but who aren’t prepared to not see their children grow up or spend the rest of their lives thinking: “What if…”.