A Sign of Good Things to Come

SIGNworld is a venerable and successful business opportunity with almost 300 locations throughout the US.  We consider it to be one of the best business opportunity concepts we represent.

I am happy to announce that one of our clients, Kevin Kitts of Raleigh, NC has purchased and started up a SIGNworld business.  His formal grand opening was held in September although he was open for business several months before that.   As this is considered a business opportunity and not a franchise in the true sense of the word, Kevin has named his company ENGAGING Signs and Graphics.  Prior to opening his business, Kevin served eight years as a military officer and 22 years in corporate America where he finished his tenure as a corporate officer.

This business concept represents a great fit for what Kevin was looking for.  “I actually chose the SIGNworld model because it eliminated the royalties and centralized control that the other franchise based business models typically require.   This open structure is arguably riskier and less foolproof than most of the franchise models I considered, but in the long run I expect the autonomy and unbridled growth opportunity it offers to be a better fit for me personally than any of the other alternatives I considered, given my motivation, interests, and business goals.”

kevin kittsI asked Kevin to tell me about how start-up and his first two months were progressing.  “Each day is both different and daunting; typical work days clock in at 14-16 hours.  There is no way to do everything I should/need to do so prioritization is essential.  Each day I am continually immersed in previously un-encountered business and customer challenges.  While facing these challenges, I am surrounded by a supportive community of experts in the sign industry ready to offer counsel and help at every turn, just for the asking.   This is a dream come true for a problem solver and customer oriented businessman.  I wake early every morning with extremely high energy ready to face the day’s challenges because there is no one holding me back.  It is absolutely the most fun I’ve experienced at work in my entire life.”

Kevin was a great client to work with.  He utilized our process and did all the research necessary to make a great decision about the right business for him.  This from Kevin:  “FranNet’s personality profile and evaluation process was extremely helpful and informative in clarifying and reinforcing my personal observations and intuitions relative to my goals and business inclinations.  FranNet helped me identify and evaluate the types of business opportunities available and introduced me to leaders at several companies to aid my understanding of their business models and evaluate the operational and financial characteristics.  My FranNet consultant, Mike Hall, shared his insight regarding the benefits of business ownership that I never knew existed.  He also listened to me intently and provided both affirmation and counterpoints during our discussions to ensure I was thoroughly evaluating all the business opportunities and their relative merits in the context of my goals and objectives.  I never felt pressured or manipulated during the process.” 


We Make Our Clients Angry………Sometimes

Franchise consultant Mike Hall

This article, by my counterpart Cindy Rayfield, in Denver Colorado, is brilliant and spot on when it comes to our philosophy of being honest with a client about their finances.

My Company, FranNet Carolina, specializes in placing clients into franchise ownership.  We use an  exclusive assessment and face to face meetings to help match clients to the businesses that make sense and that will get them to where they want to go, both professionally and personally.  To date we have placed over 500 folks in business. But for everyone we place in business, 2 – 3 more don’t buy a business for a variety of reasons.  Some of these clients are folks that we have had to advise against business ownership because of their finances.  AND, we have no problem doing that.

Our clients depend on us for good advice in searching for the right business and that includes an assessment of their financial ability to purchase a business.   In truth, nearly everyone we see wants to own their own business.  But, business ownership isn’t for everybody for a variety of reasons, including financial capacity.  We feel it is our responsibility to advise a client when their balance sheet is on the low end of what will be needed to sustain a purchase.

Buying and starting a business takes time and money.  If a client represents a family’s primary source of income and is entering business ownership and leaving the corporate world altogether, then understanding their ability to get through the start – up phase to profitability is of critical importance.  When buying a franchise there are three components of cost to consider, the franchise fee, the hard cost to build out the business (computers, leasehold improvements, signs etc.) and the projected working capital needed to get to operating profitability. The first two components are relatively easy to project and include in pro-forma financials.  But projecting accurate working capital needs is a bit trickier.  Franchise companies try to give a fair estimate of working capital needs based on their franchisees’ collective experience.  But it is still hard to hit that accurate number.  It is always a good idea to build in some cushion and then you are rewarded if you don’t need it.  Now, some of our clients are buying a franchise as an investment, with intentions of working as a semi-absentee owner.  They may be still gainfully employed with a nice income and just want to build a business to add to their investment portfolio.  While this form of purchase is done all the time, it is none the less our responsibility to give these clients the same advice any other clients.

So, if we make a client mad by telling them that a business purchase would tax their finances too much and put their family at risk, we are ok with that. We would rather have an angry client now than one that failed in a business we advised them to look at when they were too tight on finances.

Enjoy this article by Cindy!



I Made Someone Very Angry Today

I Made Someone Very Angry Today



I don’t like to do it. I really don’t.

I don’t want to tell a client they don’t have enough money to invest in a business, but that’s what happened today. I had to tell a client (or now ex-client) that she didn’t have a high enough net worth to invest in a business. She was very offended that I would tell her that. I would LOVE it if I could help anyone and everyone who wanted to buy a business, but I can’t.

When someone wants to work with me to help them find a franchise match, I start by having them complete a Personal Franchise Assessment. It can take 20 to 30 minutes to complete the profile and it asks a lot of questions relating to personality, likes, dislikes, career background – and the all important financials. Yes, in the end, it all comes down to money. (Please see my article on “The Money Talk – How to Know if You Have Enough to Invest in a Franchise.”)

Believe me when I say this – knowing how much money a client has or doesn’t have for a business is a good thing! Here’s why…

Knowing There Can and Will be Cash Flow Ups and Downs

Did you know one of the top reasons for business failure is undercapitalization? That’s a fancy term for no money and no cash flow to support the business. Here’s a great infographic that explains it.

Franchisors know this. Banks know this. People who have been in business longer than a day know this. It can be difficult for someone who has never had a business to understand that running a business takes more than simple sweat equity. Businesses and lenders don’t care how dedicated and hardworking someone is. Owners need money to get through the early times when the business is not making money.

As a seasoned advisor to my clients (10 years of good advice I might add), I have to let my clients know if they don’t have the funds to get through the tough times – in a start up, a resale business, or a franchise. It doesn’t matter what type of business it is. Cash flow is king and some days it can be up and some days it can be down, but you have ride the bull to win the prize.

Knowing Prevents the Ostrich Syndrome

It’s so easy going around thinking you have money when you really don’t. I’ve seen it time and time again. I have to get a handle on my client’s net worth, for their own sake. I’m saving them from themselves when we can have a reasonable conversation about their net worth and what it means.

Those pesky financial questions are in my Personal Franchise Assessment so I can help my clients with this part. I consider it a gift to them. I take my client’s head out of the sand, for just a little while, so they can have a real and honest look at their financial situation. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s terrible. But we all need to know, even if we don’t want to hear it. It grounds us and offers a starting point.

Knowing if You Are Wasting Your Time – For Now

No one wants to waste their time. The ex-client I angered today felt like she wasted her time spending 20 minutes completing my Personal Franchise Assessment. I know I saved her time and maybe some heartache by telling her she didn’t have the capital to do any type of business – right now. I happen to think the knowledge gained in FranNet’s science based profile is worth the effort, but that’s just me.

So today my ex-client’s financials don’t look very good, but in a few years, when her debt gets paid off, or when the big bonus arrives, or she gets that corporate buy out, or she has saved enough, or her financial picture changes… that’s when the magic can happen. My ex-client may be in a much better place. Lots of people come back to me later on, and then we can have some fun. I’ll look forward to that.

Today, I’d like to think I did my ex-client a favor. Do you think someday she may even thank me?

I doubt it. I made her really mad.

Full article link here http://franchisematchmakers.com/2017/09/i-made-someone-very-angry-today/



Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Franchise

Franchise Buying Mistakes

I really like this article by Adam Heitzman https://www.inc.com/adam-heitzman/5-biggest-mistakes-people-make-when-buying-a-franchise.html outlining some of the mistakes people make when considering or buying a franchise.

Interestingly, I usually start my seminars where Adam ends his article…. with the following counsel…

Franchise Buying Mistakes

Franchise Buying Mistakes

Franchise ownership isn’t for everyone.  But for the right person, it can be a great way to get involved in creating their own corporate ladder.    

What I go on to tell my audiences and individual clients is this…….  If you have a great desire to do something different than work for someone else, or if you are looking for a semi-passive business investment that can turn into a full-time career in the future, you need to do the following.   Define your business model…understand what the best attributes are of a business that fits you.  Make a commitment to research, and then more research.  Any information you need to make a good decision is available.  Research includes studying the disclosure documents, understanding the franchisor’s business model and plan and talking to existing franchise owners about their success and their relationship with the franchisor.  My clients take 12 weeks to thoroughly research franchise alternatives before making a decision.

Franchise ownership isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great way to get into business for the right indivudual that is willing to follow a blueprint and business process while adding their own skills and effort toward growing a business.

Mike Hall is the owner of  FranNet Carolina, a franchise consulting company that matches clients to business opportunities


Welcome to Business Ownership Ed Corpe


SIGNworld is a venerable and very successful business opportunity with almost 300 locations throughout the US.  In fact, it was the first concept I ever purchased when starting off on my own.  I am happy to announce that one of our clients, Ed Corpe of Charlotte, purchased and started up a SIGNworld concept late December and is off to a great start.  As this is considered a business concept and not a franchise in the true sense of the word, Ed has named his company SignsID.

This represents a great fit for what Ed was looking for.   “The results of my due diligence process revealed a zealousness among SIGNworld owners like that of the US Marines for the corp.  The all-volunteer participation results in a sincere engagement of people wanting to help and support the family of owners.  Further, the business fits my desire to ‘manufacture’, to make something and to solve problems for customers.  Every phone call is a potential customer asking me for help”.

SIGNworld owners manufacture both outdoor and indoor signs and graphics.  Products vary from vehicle wraps to window graphics to real estate and retail signage and much more.  All manufacturing uses the newest sign production technology, designed to operate with a minimum environmental footprint

I asked Ed to tell me about how start-up and his first two months were progressing.  “Fantastic! Tremendous!   The mountain of work required to be completed in the short firestorm time-period called a start-up is surprising.   In my ex-corporate life, 60- hour work weeks were common.  However, as an entrepreneur, that past pales in comparison.  Not only are resources constrained (budgets or people) but as the owner, you are the only person knowledgeable and qualified to implement or accomplish much of the tasks.   My biggest challenge has been to do all the ‘business’ of the start-up while marketing the company and selling products.   We’ve had the dreaded cycle of sell, sell, sell, receive orders, then produce, produce, produce….then back to sell, sell, sell…… However, things are smoothing now”.

Ed was a terrific client.  He utilized our process and did all the research necessary to make a great decision in deciding on the right business for him.  This from Ed: “Mike shared with me tools to evaluate my personality and compared it to different business models common franchises use.   His own experience in business and corporate life is key to working with me.  The process helped identify the right type of business, ‘making things’ – ‘physical things’ and solving problems.   The result was a couple business choices.  I had investigated a very successful unrelated sign company to purchase in recent months, so I was familiar with the business model when Mike suggested it.   Mike also provided other tools for me to help in due diligence process to evaluate SIGNworld specifically. 

If you or your company have a need for corporate signs, banners, vehicle wraps, ADA signage or for that matter, any type of signs, be sure to get in touch with Ed Corpe at SignsID.


Welcome to Business Ownership Randy Elliott

Cell Phone Repair

Mike Hall and Randy Elliott

One of our favorite franchises, Cell Phone Repair, has welcomed Randy Elliott as a new multiple unit owner in the Raleigh area.

I met Randy at networking event mid- 2016.  At the time, he was between professional positions and had considered business ownership, but not acted on the idea.  After a few months of assessing available corporate opportunities for senior IT professionals, he decided to explore the entrepreneur route.  I feel very fortunate that he asked me to help him explore different franchise concepts to consider for purchase.

After taking Randy through an assessment, we decided to explore several concepts, but Cell Phone Repair made its way to the top of his list based on its availability, cost and fit for him.  Cell Phone Repair (CPR) is in the business of repairing and refurbishing for resale all types of electronic devices including cell phones, tablets, gaming devices and now even drones.  It also sells ancillary items such as protective covers, cables, etc.  Randy gives several reasons for his selection of CPR…” One, I liked that electronic repair (it isn’t limited to cell phones) should be a recession-proof business.  As long as people own things, they will break them and want them fixed.  Two, I have a background in computers, once working as IT director of a small software company.  And three, this is a business that can be expanded to multiple locations.  If the first couple of stores work out well, I can open more in other areas.  Finally, this is a business I can own and operate as long as I like, with any level of involvement I choose and with the option of a daily presence in the stores to general oversight and all the way to being a completely absent owner.”

Besides having a background as a corporate IT professional, Randy is also a US Naval Veteran having served as a pilot and in numerous leadership positions in operational and training commands.  We always enjoy working with veterans as they have a good handle on people management and implementing systems, processes and procedures… all traits of successful franchise owners.

As of this writing, Randy is now part owner in and existing CPR store and is in the process of building his second one to be owned exclusively by him.  In addition, CPR is adding a fully capable computer repair service to its existing franchises that Randy and other CPR owners will be able to take advantage of.

It is always exciting to see one of our clients make the decision to enter the world of business ownership.  It is an exciting, and somewhat unnerving time in their lives. Fortunately, our process helps clients make an informed and intelligent decision in purchasing their first business.  I appreciate Randy’s comments; “Mike has considerable experience in franchising and understood what I was after, taking into account my likes and dislikes and the things I thought would be important to me as a business owner.  He was also able to provide advice and contacts on related issues such as finding an attorney”.

Thanks Randy for being a client and we are wishing you the best of luck in your new venture.


Business Ownership Needs Passion

Passion_400-033115Have you heard this before? “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Or how about this? “ Find something you are passionate about and make it into a business.”

I find this to be common, but often incorrect advice. As I tell my seminar attendees every month, I love and am passionate about golf, I just can’t make any money at it. Given my skill set, I am not good enough to play on the tour or teach golf, but I do love the game and spend time playing it. I also know very successful business owners that own dry cleaners and maid service businesses. I doubt they are passionate about cleaning clothes or other people’s houses.

So if business owners are not necessarily passionate about the product or service they are selling, what are they passionate about? They are passionate about business ownership and the benefits that it can bring them; freedom, control, income, a flexible lifestyle, and a host of other things.

All of this isn’t to say you cannot make a business out of something you are passionate about. And, if you can, more power to you. It is the best of both worlds. Just remember, it is often the case that you will also become the CEO, CFO, and CMO of your business; truly a jack of all trades. In order to build a sustainable business model, owners often find themselves filing many roles, at the expanse of spending more time on the aspects of the business they are truly passionate about.
To look at this in more depth, I think this article by Gerri Detweiler https://www.allbusiness.com/entrepreneurs-spill-truth-starting-running-businesses-105262-1.html nicely explains what some entrepreneurs face when they build a business with a product or service they are passionate about.

So, if you are passionate about the prospects of running your own business, take the time to do the research and find a business that you think you will like, that matches your skill set and professional and personal goals and that can be built to provide good income, equity and that can be built to run without you having to work in it every day. The right business for you may not sell a product or service you are necessarily passionate about, but it may allow you to build a great business that ultimately gives you more time to spend on those things you truly ARE passionate about.

Now, that is something to get passionate about!


Business Ownership: A Juxtaposition of Speed and Patience

linked_business_ownersReading this article (By Francesca Federico, co-founder of Twelve Points http://fortune.com/2016/02/06/entrepreneur-business-success-tips/ made me rethink the message I deliver in my seminars to transitioning corporate professionals and often pass on to all my clients that are about to buy or start a business.

One of the reasons, I think, that some corporate folks start businesses and have trouble running their company, is that they can’t get used to the “speed of small business”. After all, decisions and actions that need to be made within the corporate environment often happen at a snail’s pace. (I hear this a lot from my corporate clients) Everyone must buy in and approvals must be given before plans are enacted. When you own your own business, things happen faster and you must act faster.   I equate this transition to business ownership to that of the “can’t miss” college prospect that enters the pros only to find that he can’t adjust to the speed of the game. Some Heisman trophy winners and all-Americans find themselves struggling to get up to speed, while some fifth round draft choices adapt and become stars. In your own business, you need to work on building your customer base quickly to build cash flow. You need to take action on bad employees quickly, lest they poison the work environment. You need to deliver to your customers on time and fix problems that arise…..quickly. If you don’t, your competitors will. This is not to say that you sacrifice quality, fairness and thoroughness for speed. But you do need to learn to make good decisions and take action quickly, without a corporate safety net.

All that said, I am struck with the premise of this article. While I think the pace of small business, generally speaking, is fast, I am willing to admit that patience must also be practiced. No matter how fast you work, there will always be things that happen out of your control. To quote part of the article, “In order to be successful, you have to be patient, whether it’s with negotiating new business deals, communicating with colleagues, or increasing your customer base. It’s easier said than done, but it comes down to trusting your process and remaining calm through the twists and turns—both big and small. You have to accept that not every decision will go your way. Most first-time entrepreneurs get easily frustrated and overwhelmed, which is understandable given the financial burden of their new ventures. “

Owning your own business can be so rewarding and satisfying. But it isn’t easy. It takes time to get it going and it costs money. Plans must be carried out with speed and thoroughness….then, sometimes, you must wait. Confusing? Welcome to the world of business ownership.



Jan2016BlogPostDid you know that only 8 percent of the people that set a New Year’s resolution actually achieve their goal*. Why is that? Research from Psychology Today has found that making your resolutions work will involve changing behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you haveto change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain). This takes work. We have to set specific, measurable, time-bound goals and keep them front and center. If you are one of the millions of people in the United States compelled to make a New Year’s resolution, here are some helpful tips from Ray Williams of Wired for Success, to help you make them work**.

  1. Focus on one resolution, rather than several and set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be a better goal.
  2. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to make resolutions. Make it a year-long process, every day.
  3. Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big, requiring too much effort and action all at once.
  4. Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you to whom you have to report.
  5. Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait for the goal to be finally completed.
  6. Focus your thinkingon new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits.
  7. Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, toward your goal?
  8. Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future.

Achieving your New Year’s resolution goal should be a process and you should enjoy the ride throughout the new year. Do you set New Year’s resolutions? If so, what’s your goal? If not, why not?

Finally, is owning your own business a goal for 2016? If so…call us!. We are happy to provide a comprehensive assessment and consultation…at no cost to you. This could be your first small step. Buying a business is a big decision. It takes time to decide which one and time to ramp up. We are ready to get started if you are.

Thanks to Gina Kaurich, Executive Director of Client Care Services for FirstLight Home Care Franchise for authoring this article.

*StatisticBrain.com, 2015

**Ray Williams, Wired for Success 2014


Business ownership isn’t always the answer to the corporate job blues

Sometimes it is better to seek other employment”

“Working for myself has been great and I can’t imagine working for anyone else. BUT … that’s me! It may not be you”.  And that is how I start my seminars.

Frustrated businessman sitting on a benchI started FranNet Carolina over 20 years ago and since then, my focus has been on helping our clients find the perfect business to buy, one that matches their ideal business model and their professional and personal goals

The advice and guidance I provide comes from my experience in the corporate world plus the experience of business ownership (including several franchises) and from having interviewed over 1000 potential business buyers that come to us for advice. I feel that I can look my clients in the eye and let them know that I have been there and done that. And while my goal is to help them find a great business to buy, I also consider it my responsibility to let them know if I don’t feel they are a good fit for business ownership. And I do see people that are not a good fit for business ownership.

“Man, if I could just work for myself and make money for me instead of XYZ Corporation, I would be one happy person”. Heard that before? I have, many times. If I had 100 folks in one of my seminars and I asked them if they would work for themselves with a guaranteed good salary, most would answer with an emphatic YES! But, that guaranteed salary doesn’t exist and the truth is that I have friends, and I see clients for whom corporate employment is a great fit, and something they enjoy and are good at. Heck, there are folks out there that don’t like their job but are still better off than they would be in their own business. I often tell people that “having a job you don’t like that pays the bills is better than owning a business you wouldn’t be good at and don’t like….. and that doesn’t pay the bills”.

So, who makes the choice to buy a business? In my experience, buyers are mostly mid to senior level corporate folks that are in a job transition.   For the most part, the ones that buy businesses are the ones that:

  • Knew their transition was coming or felt that is was likely and began planning to leave the corporate world and buy their own business well before the layoff came. Now that they have the time to do the research, they are focused on buying a business to jump into and run full time.
  • Anticipate continuing their corporate career in a new job and are in an active job search, but want to begin investing in businesses that can be run semi-absentee so they can begin building equity in something and add to their net worth. If they experience another layoff in the future, they may jump into their existing business entity full time.

Other buyers may include current business owners that are selling their current business and looking to purchase another one, but we are focusing on corporate careers in this article.

What separates the buyers from the non- buyers is their desire and their ability to accept the initial risk that comes with any business start-up (investing cash, time without income, anticipated missteps, etc. ) while seeing what the business can become and how it can fit into and benefit their family and their life.  Buying a franchise or buying an ongoing business entity can help to mitigate the risk, but it will not eliminate it entirely. A common trait of most business buyers is that they become engaged in the research process and work at it steadily, almost to the exclusion of everything else, until they reach a conclusion.

Now, referencing the title of this post; who doesn’t or perhaps shouldn’t buy a business? Again looking at our transitioning clients, the ones that don’t or probably shouldn’t buy:

  • Are focused on their job search and know that it is the right thing for them, but decide they want to look at businesses anyway on the off chance they might just see something they like. The fact is, they are focused on a job search for a reason (s) and odds are almost 100% that they won’t see something that takes them off the job track.   A business very seldom becomes so obvious a choice to someone that they have to buy it.
  • May be having difficulty finding a job and think that they might as well own a business as a job replacement. The questions I always ask here is…”Why are you diverting your resources to look for a business when you didn’t want one in the first place? We advise these clients to continue looking for the right job and recognize that it may be necessary to compromise on the next position until the best one comes along.

If someone really wants, or needs a job, there is probably a good reason why and they should focus all their resources on finding that job and not dilute their efforts with a half-hearted attempt to find a business to buy. Over the past 20 years, I have had many clients like this and I generally send them away and tell them to come back if they find themselves in transition again and are really ready to research business ownership. As for the clients that are having difficulty finding a job and think that buying a business is like buying a job, well that is just not correct. Buying a business is a big deal and it takes time and money and commitment.

Going back and rereading this, I feel obligated to tell you that I am, have been and always will be an enthusiastic advocate for business ownership. I think if someone with the desire and financial means can find the right business and can be successful at it, the benefits far outweigh those of employment. That said, business ownership just isn’t right for all of our candidates. It may be a timing issue, a financial issue, a skill set issue or a spousal issue.   Whatever it is, I feel it is my responsibility to my clients to let them know what I think and advise accordingly.


Building a Business that is Community Oriented

Every year of my past 21 years of interviewing potential business owners I often get ask Happy business people standingquestions about how to start up an insurance business. Or a candidate would tell me that they looked at a big brand name insurance company and wondered what I thought about the business.

Until recently, I never worked with insurance companies and didn’t have much information for my clients. But, I could understand what potential business owners saw in them. To start an insurance agency that sells, among other things, property and casualty products, is to start a business that requires community involvement in a big way. Insurance agencies are built by getting to know their neighbors, other business owners, chamber members and church members and building many referral partners that are happy to refer business. As many of my clients are mid to senior level executives and have only worked for one or two large corporations in their business lives, they see the idea of being involved in a business that builds from local resources as something far different than what they have done in the past and that they have a great interest in. In addition, the thought of owning a business that has weekday hours, few employees, no travel requirements, residual income and a high customer retention rate is appealing.   Insurance companies are also about providing a service that actually helps individuals and business owners, another appealing trait.

Our company is now working with a very fast growing independent insurance agency that is targeting the Carolinas for growth. With over 100 locations nationwide, a large and supportive corporate staff the ability to represent many great insurance companies and an affordable franchise business model, they will appeal to many of our clients.

During our next Franchise Forum on April 2nd here in Charlotte, we will feature this company. In addition, we will discuss other concepts in the franchise industry looking to expand within the Carolinas. We will also bring in some local resources, consulting and legal, to round out the presentation menu. To learn more and to join us, click here https://carolinafranchiseforum2015.eventbrite.com