4 Local PR Strategies to Boost Franchisee Business


Striking the right balance between corporate and local marketing is tricky.

Franchise brands are most successful when they have a professional, consistent image portrayed to the public, but one which is also localized enough that smaller-scale communities feel in touch with it.

So, how can franchisees help drive business through marketing targeted to customers in their area?

Media attention is key – it crafts a story and helps reach as many people as possible, often without costing as much as other marketing campaigns.

Here are 4 Local PR Strategies to Boost Franchisee Business:

1. Have a creative, exciting franchise launch. When you’re preparing for the grand opening of your franchise, go a little outside the box to garner media attention. While a well-crafted press release will work to get some media to cover your story, the best may need more to get their attention. If you’re opening a golf franchise, for example, one idea would be to hold a mini-competition on the day of a launch with a local celebrity competing against the public.

2. Partner with a transitions employment program. Work with a local organization that helps people with disabilities transition to the workforce. Whether it’s veterans, young adults with autism, or underprivileged youth trying to secure employment, this is not only a great way to help those in your community – it’s also a great story the public would want to hear about.

3. Sponsor fundraisers, sports teams, and amazing individuals. Is there a major fundraiser happening in your area? Partner with it. Know of a sports team that doesn’t have money for jerseys? Sponsor them. By helping a needy cause in your community, you’re directly giving back to your customers. The media gravitates to goodwill stories like this, and will most often be happy to provide some coverage.

4. Get to know the media in your area. Seems simple enough, but sometimes it really is about who you know and not what you know. Even if you have a top-notch press release or a great story that needs coverage, knowing a reporter can make it that much easier to get a story covered when you need it. You can sometimes meet and interact with journalists on Twitter and Facebook, or can meet them at various fundraisers and community events.

To learn more about entrepreneurship through franchising, attend our free monthly webinar, Franchise Ownership as a More Stable Career Path. The webinar is free, but you need to pre-register, which you can do online by clicking on the linked seminar title.

You may also register by calling 866-246-2884.

4 Essential Items to Include on Your Company Website

E-commerce continues to become increasingly central to marketing success. In 2016, global e-commerce sales reached $22 trillion, a 6 percent increase from 2015, according to eMarketer. By 2020, global e-commerce revenue will climb to $27.7 trillion.

So what does this all mean? Truth be told, your website’s performance is more important than ever for driving revenue. Here are four essentials you should include on your website to maximize traffic, conversion rates and sales.

Content

Valued at $99 billion, Amazon is today’s most successful online retail brand. This is primarily due to the company’s marketing strategy, which includes tactics like price matching and free shipping. However, the real key to Amazon’s success has been content marketing. Whereas most websites only feature product sales pages, an Amazon product page includes content like

  • Free sample pages
  • Customer reviews
  • Links to user forums
  • Links to other works by the same author
  • Related reading suggestions
  • Lists of recommended books in a given category

This information educates visitors, thereby helping them make more informed buying decisions and making them more inclined to purchase a product or service. Amazon’s content marketing strategy also includes featuring SEO-oriented keywords and topics to attract readers from search engines.

Amazon also shares content on social media to draw readers from sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, Amazon’s extensive help documentation provides content that’s valuable for both prospective and current customers seeking answers to frequently-asked questions.

Design

While valuable content can help attract readers to your site, eye-catching design can help keep them there. One company that excels at this is Adobe, which stays true to its focus on products for creative audiences in fields such as graphic design and videography.

Adobe’s homepage is currently paying homage to the 25th anniversary of the company’s Adobe Premiere video editing line of products, with the area above the fold highlighting movie hits edited with Premiere Pro, like Deadpool. This helps underscore the product’s professional target market. Below this are links where visitors can learn more about Adobe’s Creative Cloud signature product, which includes Premiere Pro as one of its components.

This design serves both to grab the viewer’s eye and to steer them toward clicking on a link for a featured product. For visitors seeking other information, there is also a menu icon with additional navigational options.

Graphics

Graphic selection is a key element of design. Your graphics send a message about your brand and products, telling your visitors something about your company as well as about who you perceive your audience to be. Your graphics also set the emotional tone for your site, with factors such as subject matter and color influencing your visitors’ mood.

One company that has succeeded in part by carefully controlling its graphic image selection is Apple. From its inception, the company’s corporate philosophy has emphasized simplicity as the key to functional sophistication. This philosophy is embodied both in the design of Apple’s products and in the company logo.

In fact, Apple’s distinctive logo consists of just two shapes: a bitten fruit and a stem. The logo shape has remained consistent over the years, with the color changing to reflect different marketing themes. Additionally, Apple publishes a detailed brand style guide, which lays out strict policies for use of the logo and other imagery. This helps Apple maintain quality control over its graphics to ensure a professional impression consistent with the company’s branding philosophy.

Products

Where and how you display your products is crucial in piquing customer interest and generating continued sales. A proven approach is to use the area above the fold to showcase a current sale or signature product, with additional navigational links available for other products.

One site that uses this approach effectively is TireBuyer.com. Mobile visitors will notice a sales offer for discounted tires, with a drop-down menu to select specific brands from which to purchase. Meantime, desktop visitors will see an alternate offer with a similar menu selection. This approach extends a special offer to visitors regardless of which product they’re looking for or what device they’re using.

4 Reasons Military Veterans Make Great Franchisees


Why are military veterans so well-suited for the franchise industry?

It’s as if their core characteristics have been specifically tailored to becoming a successful franchisee.

In fact, that’s what the military has done. Through their military training, veterans have acquired the most important skills required to becoming a successful franchisee – helping them become successful leaders in the industry and superb entrepreneurs.

Here are the Top 4 Reasons Military Veterans Make Great Franchisees:

1. The Ability to Follow Systems and Structure. In the military, vets had to following systems and structure to succeed in their missions. Through this intense training and lifestyle, military veterans have this ability ingrained in them – and are able to seamlessly transfer it to the franchise industry, where they flourish in following tried-and-true processes.

2. An Almost Unparalleled Hard Work Ethic. Owning a business takes work, and franchising is no different. But hard work yields success – and military veterans know how to push through tough obstacles to get the job done. On top of this, they are also able to lead and inspire a strong work-ethic culture for their employees – leading to even greater success.

3. Ability to React and Adapt Under Pressure. As a new franchisee, things are bound to happen fast: from customer complaints to supplier issues, anything and everything will most likely occur at least once – sometimes at a moment’s notice. What military veterans do best, however, is react quickly under pressure and find efficient solutions to problems.

4. Veterans Stick to the Plan to Complete Missions. There is no place for rogue members in the military. Instead, military veterans were required to closely follow their missions in order to succeed together. In franchising, it’s no different: a franchisee follows the processes set out by the franchisor to succeed, because it’s been proven to work time and time again.

To learn more about entrepreneurship through franchising, attend our free monthly webinar, Franchise Ownership as a More Stable Career Path. The webinar is free, but you need to pre-register, which you can do online by clicking on the linked seminar title.

You may also register by calling 866-246-2884.

The Art of Inquiry: Asking Great Questions

Over the years, I have observed a skill that is often lacking in today’s entrepreneurs. I call it the art of inquiry, but in its simplest form what I mean is asking great questions. When entrepreneurs encounter failure, whether it be not meeting a particular business goal, a product launch that crashes and burns, or a business process that gets derailed, I’ve found it can often be traced to a failure to ask questions. Even more frustrating is when you realize that the question did occur to you but you put aside to get on with the work. In today’s rapidly-changing business landscape, asking great questions isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.

Why Asking Great Questions is Hard

Part of what’s going on here is a failure in the way we educate. When kids are around the five, they’ve developed just enough that they start asking lots of questions. This is a good thing, even if some parents find it a bit frustrating at times. But then they go to school, and the plain fact of the matter is that most schools train students on finding and giving answers rather than asking great questions.

Think about what else goes on in school. It’s the teachers who ask the questions, right? And no student wants to look “dumb” by not knowing the answers, so they stay silent and don’t ask questions. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Layer on top of this our need for speed. Who’s got time to even ask questions, let alone pursue answering them? But if you don’t slow down and ask questions, how do you know what you’re doing is going to get the best results possible? Asking great questions is the absolute core of being innovative.

Modern American culture simply doesn’t value effective inquiry. Entrepreneurs especially feel the need to project an image of being certain of the answers. Asking great questions feels like some kind of weakness.

Regaining the Skill of Asking Great Questions

Asking great questions is a skill every entrepreneur needs to develop. It begins by training yourself to not dismiss those questions that pop into your head. Not every question is a great question, though, so you need to know what makes for great questions. All great questions should be empowering, meaning they lead to thoughtful discussion and further inquiry. They serve to do one or more of the following:

  • Challenge assumptions.
  • Enable a different view of a situation.
  • Get people reflecting on their behaviors.
  • Elicit discussion by being open-ended.
  • Lead to confidence and courage.
  • Result in effective action.

Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss once said something worth remembering about inquiry: The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions. Your success as an entrepreneur depends on all kinds of factors, one of which is your skill in asking great questions. 

Name an Industry and I’ll Show You a Successful Franchise


Chances are on your way to or from your 9-5 grind you will pass a successful franchise and not even know it. Part of this is due to the fact that the term franchise has become somewhat synonymous with the fast food restaurant and any franchise outside of that niche is barely recognized as one. The other reason I am confident that you will pass by a successful franchise today is that they are nearly everywhere these days touching nearly every industry imaginable. Far beyond pizza and hamburgers, the franchise model has been used to grow various niches from fashion, tools, health care, education and beyond. If you can think of an industry I can likely think of a franchise that touches it in some manner or another. This is great news for the would be entrepreneur who has always longed to become the captain of one’s own financial destiny but never really saw themselves asking “would you like fries with that?” So let’s take a quick look at the breadth of the franchise industry and see if a life’s passion doesn’t just jump up and bite you.

The Benefits of Franchising

Before we take a look at the scope of the industry, let’s first cover very briefly exactly what makes the franchise model so successful. Franchising puts the owner in command of their own destiny without asking them to go it alone. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to become the next Jeff Bezos of Amazon who is going to come up with the next big new idea to make them the next billionaire. That being said, there is a great deal of entrepreneurial talent still trapped in the your standard 9-5 grind because they can’t envision the opportunity out.

Franchising gives the first time entrepreneur not only that opportunity, but a proven business model to follow. In fact, if a franchise doesn’t believe in the new franchisee or the market they are entering they often won’t even both to award a franchise. The franchise understands that their name, brand and reputation are on the line every time they open a new location. So should you find yourself the new recipient of a franchise you can feel pretty good that the experts think you’ve got a pretty good shot at success.

This is of course not guaranteed and those new to the world of franchising have an obligation to do their homework. Talk to other franchise owners and make sure the franchise gives you all the pertinent data. If you do that, then your first franchise can often be the first step in a path towards an empire of franchises that gives you a steady stream of income for the future. It is hard work and there are risks, but unless you’ve created the next billion dollar widget in your basement it is often the safest path to an entrepreneurial future. Enough about the numbers, let’s talk about the passion.

Find Your Passion and Find Your Profit

This is where the full spectrum of the franchise industry comes into play on behalf of the new franchisee. You don’t have to flip burgers my friend. Although, fast-food can offer some pretty reliable profits and you’ll never hear the owner of multiple McDonald’s franchises complaining about being poor. Yet, you can branch out and pick an industry more to your liking. If caring for others has always been your life’s passion you’d be please to know that the senior service industry is one of the hottest niches in franchising right now. From home care agencies that allow seniors to age with dignity and grace in their own homes to those who help seniors move and downsize there are opportunities for you.

What’s great about the senior services franchises is not only do the provide a pretty good return on investment, but the initial investment to get started is actually pretty low. No ovens, grills or major equipment of which to speak. Just a dedicated group of staff or caregivers and you are ready to go. Then again, perhaps educating children is your passion. There are a host of franchises involved with youth from daycare to STEM education and more. That’s right, you don’t have to flip burgers to franchise your way to success as you can educate children in science and math.

If you consider yourself the next Tim “the toolman” Taylor from Home Improvement we’ve got tool franchises for you. Like to help make people feel beautiful? There are countless hair salons you can open. Fancy yourself a fitness buff? Why not open one of the many successful fitness gyms so you can cash in on those new year’s resolutions to lose weight. Pet supplies, accounting services and yes good old fashioned pizza, I think you get the point by now. Find your passion and thanks to the franchise model with a little hard work and determination you will find your profit.

In Conclusion

I’ll confess that perhaps it was a stretch to say that every single industry has a franchise but it is so close to discernible truth that I’ll allow it. Franchising is more than burgers and fries my friends. Once you realize that, it is as if your wildest childhood dreams come true. Yes, there are comic book store franchises so that is not a stretch either. Running a franchise is work and you’ll not hear me be the one to tell you it is the path to easy money. Oh, but it is a path to harnessing your passion and making you captain of your own destiny. Name an industry and I’ll most likely show you a franchise is perhaps what I should have said. Then again, that’s not really as catchy a title is it? Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have more question about franchising and who knows, maybe a future without precedent is right around the corner for you.


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How to Build and Manage Your Retail Supply Chain

As Amazon steps up its move into the supply chain market, retail chains are finding themselves forced to improve their supply chain management to stay competitive. As February drew to a close, Target announced it would sacrifice $1 billion in operating margins in order to lower its costs, an effort to compete with Amazon, ZDNet reports. Target chief operating officer John Mulligan attributed part of the company’s problem to inefficient supply chain management, reflected in slow-moving products and excessive inventory. Walmart also announced plans to adjust its supply chain in March, offering free shipping on orders over $35, says Business Insider.

Developments such as this illustrate how crucial supply chain management is to the success of a retail franchise. Here are some ways you can build and manage an effective supply chain to ensure the success of your retail franchise.

Plan Your Supply Chain Management Strategy

The foundation of an effective supply chain is supply chain management (SCM) planning. Map out the steps in your supply chain from supplier to customer, and select metrics to measure performance for each stage.

There are a number of key metrics that help determine your SCM performance. For instance, perfect order measurement tracks how many orders are delivered without errors. This can be broken down into subcategories such as the procurement, production, warehousing and transportation stages. Cash to cash cycle time tracks how long it takes between when you pay for materials and when you get paid for your product. Knowing this is crucial for managing your cash flow. On-time shipping rate tracks how many orders arrive on time, which is vital for customer satisfaction. Simplicable identifies 12 key metrics that can be tracked to optimize supply chain management.

Your sales and marketing directly impacts the rate of your supply flow, so you should consider this while you’re planning your SCM strategy. For example, o-ring supplier Apple Rubber uses instructional videos distributed through social media as a promotional tool. If you use social media in your marketing, tracking your social follows and shares and correlating this with your sales rate can help you adjust your inventory flow to meet demand cycles.

Select Your Suppliers and Processes

After planning your SCM strategy, the next step is to select your suppliers and set up your processes. Look for reliable suppliers with a reputation for on-time delivery. You can investigate suppliers by interviewing them, talking to industry peers and reading reviews by customers and expert reviewers. Directories such as SupplyChainBrain can help you identify suppliers.

Processes that need to be set up include inventory management, pricing, payment, delivery and returns. To increase the efficiency of your processes, you can use supply chain management software (SCMS). Leading SCMS providers include SAP, Oracle and JDA Software.

Organize Manufacturing Activities

Next, you will need to plan the activities in your manufacturing cycle. These include production, quality testing, product packaging and delivery. Your planning should take into consideration which metrics you will use to track product quality, product output and workforce productivity.

Set Up Your Logistics Network

The next step is setting up your logistics processes and network. This involves planning how you will receive customer orders, invoice receipt of payments, coordinate orders with your warehouse and ship your orders.

Your planning will include selecting a delivery service for shipping your orders. In the United States, there are two types of delivery services. Services such as US Postal Service Priority and First Class package services provide confirmation of delivery. Services such as US Postal Service Express, UPS and FedEx provide door-to-door tracking for shipments. Delivery confirmation delivery services are less expensive than trackable services.

Prepare Your Returns Procedures

A certain percentage of your orders will get returned, so you will also need to set up procedures for how to handle returns. This involves setting up a procedure for receiving and processing defective or extra items. It also involves setting up customer service procedures for providing support to customers returning items. You should coordinate your returns procedures with your bookkeeping procedures so that refunds and returned inventory get entered properly into your system.

Why Working from Franchise Beats Working from Home


The gig economy is hotter than ever right now as talented individuals are shedding the corporate culture and heading for the basement with a laptop in their PJs. This trend is being quickened by corporations themselves realizing the quality of the labor force ready to the job they need for them and nothing. If you need a sales report or perhaps web content then just pay someone to do that and skip having to pay for them to attend the company potluck or Christmas party. It is a mutually beneficial relationship where companies and talented individuals get exactly what they want from one another and nothing more. The problem is that freelancers are realizing by the droves that working from home is not quite all it is cut out to be. So that’s why I’ll message this article to those looking to leave the corporate world behind but who still understand the merit of showing up to work each day. If you ask me, working from your franchise beats working from home and I’ll tell you why.

The Great Generational Divide

It might not be sufficient to say that working from a franchise beats working from home for everyone as there is a generational component to it. A modern recent college grad has spent the sum of their entire lives connected online and an isolated setting where every human transaction is digital might come a little more naturally to them. Then, for those of us who have grown up to be accustomed to starting the work day at a particular time and shaking a few hands each day it can come as a challenge.

If you survey new freelancers you will find that one of the most common mistakes they made early on was to ditch the norms and cultural conditions that made one feel like they were at work. Sitting behind your laptop in your pajamas while you eat a bowl of cereal just doesn’t quite feel like work and productivity often reflects that. Moreover, failing to identify when your day ends and when it begins can often result in a complete loss of work/life balance that deteriorates one’s sense of rest. In a nutshell, the stay at home freelance lifestyle is not for everyone and yet that is often the only route burned out employees can see towards cutting the corporate cord.

There is Another Path to Freedom

Despite the popularity of the freelance and gig economy, there is another path that others are beginning to rediscover that not only grants them the freedom from the corporate world but also makes them captains of their own destiny. I say rediscovering because franchising was granting people their freedom long before Bill Gates first touched a computer. The benefit to this method of freedom is that one is allowed to retain many of the aspects of a hard days work that they love without any of the corporate hassle.

There is still a physical location which to go and in most cases even an office of your own. The only difference is that this is your ship now and you are captain of your own destiny. There are start times and end times to work though an entrepreneur’s day truly rarely ends. There are people to connect with, employees to manage and most importantly a proven business model to follow. There is even corporate help from your franchise should you really need it. Namely, you have the support and structure of a job but all the freedom and authority of an industry leader.

Franchises Never Go Out of Fashion

Finally, I’ll submit that working from a franchise beats working from home because franchises never go out of fashion. The gig economy is hot right now, but if you are in your 40’s and 50’s planning on the gig economy as your retirement plan then you might be sorely disappointed. Franchises, on the other hand, will continue to meet a need so long as they continue to have quality leaders to manage them. Taking on your first franchise and managing it in your 40’s can turn into a fleet of franchises by your 50’s. A fleet a franchises becomes a force and income multiplier long after the franchisee decides they do want to spend a little more time at home.

It’s a matter of preference for many, but for me it is a matter of practicality. While individual franchises might have to adapt to compete in the face of changing technology the franchise industry isn’t going anywhere. It is a proven business model that offers all the same structural benefits of the corporate you might miss. Except this time, you’re the captain and how far this ship sails you is up to you. Leave the basement in the pajamas for the next generation. As for me, I’ll stick with shaking a few hands everyday and building income into the future.


Unplugged Part 2: Unplugged Entrepreneurs find Business Success

In Unplugged Part 1: Unplugged Employees Boost Business Success, I made the case for workplaces cultivating a healthier relationship between employees and the technologies they’re expected to use because their productivity and, by extension, your company’s success, depends on it. This follow-up article is aimed more squarely at you as an individual and your personal relationship to technology. Being constantly “plugged in” to the constant stream of emails, instant messages, texts, and all manner of other notifications from social media and other sources can take a serious toll on your personal sanity. Now is the time to overhaul your relationship to technology.

What Individuals Can Do

While it’s important for companies to overhaul their expectations of workers, it’s even more important for each individual to take responsibility for creating a healthier relationship to technology. We all know how addictive the social media feeds and texts can become. If you don’t intentionally set boundaries, you can get sucked in and lose big chunks of time in your life. As writer/designer/photographer Craig Mod recently put it in an online article, “There are a thousand beautiful ways to start the day that don’t begin with looking at your phone. And yet so few of us choose to do so.” I like that because it emphasizes the fact that unplugging is a choice each individual has to make, and depending on how dysfunctional your relationship to devices is, it might be really difficult to do. But remind yourself what’s at stake here: Your attention span. Your ability to focus on important tasks. Your sanity. The stakes are high!

The Business of Stealing Your Attention

There is something else that makes unplugging difficult, which is the apps themselves and how they are designed. The desire to check your phone is natural because the apps insistently demanding your attention are specifically designed to hook you in and keep you there as long as possible. The companies behind the distracting apps have made it their mission to steal your attention – and they’re very good at it.

Create a Simple, Sustainable Boundary

If you want to get your attention back and feel truly refreshed and able to focus on what’s important, then set some real tech boundaries and stick to them. Craig Mod came up with a very simple approach that works for him: Unplug before going to bed. Don’t plug back in until after lunch. Obviously, he’s prioritizing a well-rested morning without tech-induced distractions. If that many hours unplugged sounds like too much to you, start off with just an hour or two, and after you get used to that, see if you can increase it. Your ability to unplug will give you a surprisingly distinct competitive advantage in the digital era. 

Now is the time to ask yourself what kind of relationship you have to technology and whether or not it’s time to make a change. As counter-intuitive as it may feel in this brave new world of the digital era, consistently finding times to be unplugged can go a long way towards boosting your success as an entrepreneur.  

Franchise Your Way to Self-Employed Happiness


Don’t we all love it when science confirms something that we’ve always known to be true? Even better is when science tells you that thing you enjoy doing most is actually healthy for you. Personally I’m still waiting for them to confirm that eating bacon stops the aging process, but they did recently announce some other good news for those in the franchise industry. Researchers from two renowned universities conducted a study on thousands of people and confirmed that self-employed people are happier. That’s right, science proved it and you can read the full story here. For those currently considering a franchise this should be all the extra motivation you need to make the leap. Working for yourself does come with a host of challenges, but it’s gotten a bad rap for far too long now. Science just confirmed what I already knew to be true and I’ll explain how you can franchise your way to your own self-employed happiness.

Conquer the Fear of the Unknown

It is no small moment in life when one decides to cut the corporate cord and step out on their own. Most of us have been condition since were young to work a job and wait for those reliable bi-monthly paychecks to roll out. Health care benefits often come from an employer as well things like sick days or vacation time. The thought of leaving all this behind creates a mountain of fear that often tethers people to the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle for the duration of their working years. But what if it didn’t? What if you conquered the fear of the unknown and grabbed you a little piece of this happy self-employed lifestyle?  

It is remarkable that this scientific study collected data from thousands of workers over three different continents and came up with the same conclusion. Yes, self-employed people often worked longer hours and fought the feelings of uncertainty about their income. That being said, they were still universally happier. It is as if all the fears keeping one from making the leap towards self-employment are only visible before you make the jump. Because those who already have made the leap don’t seem to mind them at all and are as happy as can be.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work and it doesn’t guarantee success. But then again, that’s just like the rest of life now isn’t it? The difference is that those with the courage to take a risk get to enjoy the taste of happiness along the way. Now let’s talk about that word risk because that might make this leap sound a little scarier than it ought to be. Franchising offers some great features that help mitigate the risk for the owner. You are not quitting your day job on the speculation that the Chia Pet is about to make a comeback. You are not giving up the security of a steady paycheck on the hope and a prayer that you will become the next Bill Gates. You are cutting the corporate cord to follow a proven business model with the full backing of the very people who created that winning model.

Franchises Mitigate the Risk

Read that headline again because I don’t want to confuse you. I didn’t say eliminate the risk or guarantee success. But it does mean that you are going to have to work really hard to fail if you ever had a shot at pulling this off in the first place. Franchises understand that their reputation and brand are on the line when they franchise out to a new owner. Meaning when you fail that they will ultimately take a hit too. All the leading franchises can offer the market data on the front end that tells you whether a particular franchise is likely to be successful in certain areas. Then, when they issue you the franchise they offer the business model that has proven successful. If you can read a plan and follow directions then you don’t have to be a genius business master to live this self-employed happy lifestyle.

From marketing to management and beyond, there is help available to the newbie franchise owner that is not there when someone creates a new company out of thin air. Franchises are a fantastic way for the would be entrepreneur to cut the corporate cord and break out on their own. It doesn’t eliminate all risk, but it certainly mitigates it. With happiness on the line, those fears should seem a little less daunting now.

Moreover, the security you feel at your corporate job is just as made up as the fears keeping you there. Show me an industry where companies have not gone bankrupt and laid off all their employees. Find me a company in America where there is not at least one toxic manager ready to fire someone without reason. Tell me that you are not beyond accidentally hitting “reply all” to the email where you mock your boss for the message he just sent. Life happens and when you work for someone else you are never the captain of your own destiny.

Master of One’s Own Happiness

Perhaps that is the secret to happiness after all. To simply choose one’s own fate and whether life is good or bad at least it will be your own doing. The science is in and thousands of people across three continents and multiple industries have come to the conclusion that working for themselves is worth it. The juice is worth the squeeze as they say and they are happy about it. Franchising not only puts you in charge of your own destiny but it gets you some pretty good partners to sail with you on your ship. They offer navigation and guidance, but they still need a captain. If you think that’s you then perhaps it is time you too cut the corporate cord and take the first step in your journey towards a happy self-employed life.


Unplugged Part 1: Unplugged Employees Boost Business Success

For better or for worse, we live in a digital era. Businesses that fully embrace the digital age are far more likely to be successful in the 21st century. At the level of the individual human being, things get a littler trickier. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this: One of the most valuable practices you can cultivate for success in business and life is the ability to unplug. Don’t get me wrong here: I’m not trying to convince you to “give up” your gadgets and devices. What I’m saying is your success is deeply impacted by your relationship to technology, and like any relationship, it can be healthy or it can be dysfunctional. In the first part of this two-part series about unplugging, I’ll focus on impacts in the workplace.

Unplug for Productivity’s Sake

Whenever I’m advising entrepreneurs or business owners about how to boost their productivity, I always recommend the elimination of distractions when you need to focus on an important task. Obviously, few things are more distracting than the constant flow of emails, instant messages, texts, and all manner of other notifications from social media and other sources. If you need your computer for the task, this means closing your Internet browser, email client, and temporarily disabling any other notifications that could pop up and only using the applications you need for the work at hand. But what’s the expectation at your workplace? Are your employees even allowed to unplug? 

How the Human Brain Works

The basic problem here is that the human brain evolved over the millennia without modern digital technologies, so our starting point here is asking our ancient brains to function in a very new, very recent high-tech world. If you think responding to the electronic distractions in the midst of your work is multitasking, you’re wrong. The human brain can only focus meaningfully on one thing at a time, unless you’re talking about routine activities that are entirely second nature (such as walking and chewing gum at the same time). For all intents and purposes, multitasking is a myth.

The Cost of Tech-Induced Distractions

Each time you allow an electronic distraction to interrupt your attention, you’re switching your focus from one task to another and then back to the original task, and there are real consequences to this sequence. Psychologist Larry D. Rosen, co-author of The Distracted Mind, notes that one study calculated this resumption lag of getting back to the original task, and the results are shocking: It takes a person on average nearly 30 minutes to go through the process of being distracted and then resuming work. The result is that tasks take longer to complete when distractions are permitted, causing additional stress and anxiety to workers. And it’s not always your fault either – many company cultures expect workers to respond immediately to work-related emails, texts, and phone calls. They think these immediate responses signal greater productivity, but if the act of responding is interrupting your essential work, then productivity is actually being harmed, not helped.

What Companies Can Do

The urgency of company management taking a more thoughtful approach to tech-induced distractions cannot be overstated. There are options. Some companies have created a 7-to-7 rule where any company communications received outside of those hours don’t require a response until your official workday has started. We also need new norms about handling digital communications during the workday, such as a 30-minute or even one-hour response time. If a communication is so urgent that it needs a faster response time, then it should be delivered through a phone call or an in-person visit. Rosen also advocates for company-supported “tech breaks.” You shut down all sources of potential tech distractions to focus on your work and set a timer for a specific amount of time. I would suggest 25 minutes, which is in line with what’s called the Pomodoro Technique. At the end of that chunk of time, you’re allowed to check whatever apps you want to check (or take a short walk), but only for 5 minutes, then you go for another uninterrupted 25 minutes of focused work. After four consecutive cycles of this, take a 30-minute break. This alone would revolutionize productivity in workplaces of the digital era. These are just a few of suggestions for how companies can change workplace practices to better support employee productivity in the digital era.

Keep an eye out next week when I’ll present Unplugged Part 2: Unplugged Entrepreneurs find Business Success – taking individual responsibility for your relationship to technology.