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Entrepreneurship

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I have been teaching a class on entrepreneurial business planning now and have just finished up the course at the local University. As part of this course we brought in guest speakers from various backgrounds – entrepreneurs, managers, venture capitalists. Each of them had a great story to tell in the classroom about business philosophy, bootstrapping, big hairy audacious goals (I learned the BHAG concept in this class) and how to raise money. Probably the biggest take away from this class had nothing to do with business and everything do to with lifestyle.

For a short few years I put my time in a big office tower wearing suits all day and keeping busy with regular meetings with executives and people way smarter than me. As my father would say, the modern day coal mine. I punched in and punched out every day, missed a few holidays to get that report out on time and work hard to bring honor and glory to my employer and maybe even get a raise or bonus at the end of the year. The paycheck would arrive like clockwork and I felt warm in the corporate security blanket. During these years I learned that I was not made for Corporate America, but rather made to make corporations. This is what I believe drives franchising today and what has brought into an industry that I have come to love.

Say good bye to regular paychecks and say hello to a new life. As risk increases so does reward. You make your future, you make your schedule, you create the opportunities, you feel fulfilled. That is the foundation to entrepreneurship. What franchising does for the foundation of entrepreneurship is provide a few recipes for success, and improved probabilities for success.

I have regular calls with our owners and the most rewarding aspect of what I do is to hear people talk about what their business means to them, how it has helped them achieve their goals and in many cases those goals are not always monetary but time, freedom, sense of control.

There has been some debate over whether franchising is in fact entrepreneurial, and I have read a few articles and blogs on this subject. A quick read on the words definition should shed some light on the subject:

“Entrepreneurship is the act of being an entrepreneur which is a French word meaning “one who undertakes innovations, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods”. This may result in new organizations or may be part of revitalizing mature organizations in response to a perceived opportunity. The most obvious form of entrepreneurship is that of starting new businesses.”

entrepreneurship

We have had a lot of different buyers in our business from Kung Fu teachers, to Police Officers, to Actuaries and MBA students, all of them have started a business and many of them have brought to our business innovation, finance and business acumen. In my opinion, the title “Entrepreneur” belongs to our franchisees and fortunately the title is gaining the attention it deserves to be among the more noble professions in America.

If you have considered opening up a franchise, please feel free to learn more about Five Star Painting Franchise or give us a call at 1-866-965-STAR.

If you’ve got a great idea but need some cash to get it going, you’d better start working on your Elevator Pitch. Even if you don’t need the cash or you have figured out how to use bootstrap capital, you still need to be able to sell your idea to: clients and customers, potential suppliers and employees, and even your spouse!

What is an Elevator Pitch?

It is the term used for a two-minute presentation; the amount of time it takes to go from the lobby to the investor’s office on the top floor and to capture the investor’s interest (your audience could, of course, be someone other than an investor). Get it right and they’ll invite you into the boardroom for a more in depth discussion. It is also about the same time you need to convince other stakeholders that they should get involved with your enterprise.

Who is your audience?

The scenario goes something like this:

  • You find yourself, opportunistically, in an elevator all alone with potential launch clients, possible future employees, VCs, Angel Investors, Bankers, Business Mentor or Coach.
  • You remember to introduce yourself.
  • You don’t forget to smile from time to time.
  • You tell them what you are working on. Example: “Hi, I’m Mat Lafrance, President and CEO of a new service called GradeATechs.com. We do fast, on-site computer and network repair for homeowners and businesses.”
  • You give it a short title. (“The title can’t be as long as the story,” Professor Max Neutze, Australian National University.)

What Makes a Good Elevator Pitch?

A good Elevator Pitch is made up of two key elements:

  1. Lay out the pain statement. What problem is it that you are trying to solve?
  2. Show the value proposition. How does your venture solve that problem for an individual client or customer?

Be specific—how exactly does your product or service benefit a single client or customer? Can you show, on a spreadsheet, in a compelling way, how by buying your product or service, a client will make money from it or lower their costs or do both? Did you introduce anything innovative into your business model and what is the ‘pixie dust’ or differentiated value in your model that will help you create a sustainable enterprise with a long term competitive advantage that results in some type of ‘franchise’ or ‘concession’ that you can exploit?

Example: “You know people can either disassemble their PC, put it in their car, take it to a local repair shop, be told it’ll take two weeks and will cost $150 only to find out that it will really take three weeks and cost 250 bucks and that their hard drive got accidentally wiped. Alternatively, they can log on to or call GradeATechs.com, make an appointment and have a highly trained, certified Grade A Tech come to their home or business and fix the problem in a couple of hours for $120, guaranteed.”

Give them some idea of how big the opportunity is and who the competition might be. Will this be an enterprise that will provide you with more opportunity than if you just took a JOB? Never say that if you could just get (say) 1% of this (really huge) market, you would be set for life. That sort of ‘stat’ is meaningless and undermines your credibility…Will the enterprise outlive the founder? Can it eventually continue without you?

Example: “The computer repair industry is huge and growing fast and the repair industry is full of ‘mom and pop’ shops—it’s an industry that the established players aren’t particularly interested in—in essence, we are tackling the ‘last mile of service’. Plus, at any one time, about 30% of the PCs and laptops in the US and Canada aren’t working up to their potential—that’s around 180,000,000 computers that need our help!”

Every great Elevator Pitch must meet four key tests:

  1. Must be succinct. You’ve only got one or two minutes.
  2. Easy to understand. Both your grandma and your grand kids have to get it. Your product or service should appeal to more than one generation or, at a minimum, at least you are able to explain it to multi generations.
  3. Greed inducing. Investors want to make money. Clients want to know that buying your product or service is a negative cost—the benefits generated are greater than its cost.
  4. Irrefutable. If your Elevator Pitch leaves the investor or customer with more questions than answers, you’d better go back to the drawing board.
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