Mark Hopkins is Author of Shortcut to Prosperity: 10 Entrepreneurial Habits and a Roadmap For An Exceptional Career.
Finding a franchise or business opportunity that engages your strengths within a market that you are passionate about dramatically increases your likelihood of success. Why? Because successful businesses are led by leaders with better ideas and better execution. Better ideas come from deep insight that can only come from knowing more than the competition does.
This kind of insight is easy to get if you are delving into a market that you are passionate about and almost impossible to develop if the market only represents a way to make a buck. And better execution happens naturally when you give the customer the experience that you yourself would want.
Take the time to figure out what you are passionate about. As Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, once said, “One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions, your passions choose you.” If a business opportunity looks good but the market doesn’t do anything for you, think long and hard before pulling the trigger. It may be better to keep looking for something that does.
Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it. Many of us struggle to define our passions. Sadly, throughout our lives, we’re often discouraged from pursuing our interests. Or we’re told that our passions are unrealistic and that we can’t make a living by pursuing them. That’s just bull. Don’t settle.
One of the best ways to converge on what you are most passionate about is to keep a journal — on your phone, pc or on paper. I started keeping one when I was in college. In retrospect, I can say I learned more from my journals than I did from any other source. Because, for me, the most valuable knowledge was the self-discovery of what I liked, what I was good at, what was important to me and ideas on how I could get into business doing what I loved.
Once you know the business you want to be in, there’s a series of steps you should take before investing your hard earned cash (and other investor’s capital) that will dramatically shift the odds of success in your favor.
Learn from the Best.
Experience (and a lot of it) is how you gain the knowledge you need to set you apart from the competition. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell estimates that it takes 10,000 hours of focused effort or practice to become world class at something. But the good news is that there are shortcuts to earning this level of experience.
For you this means finding a company, or competing franchise, that excels within the market you plan to enter and learning all that they have to teach you. A company like this has spent hundreds of thousands of hours fine tuning its business processes and its job one, upon hiring you, is to teach them to you. The investment of 1-3 years with a company like this will dramatically change the trajectory of the franchise or business opportunity you plan to pursue.
Learning from the best is also a great way to test the strength of your passion. Some people start a business only to find out that they hate it. Figuring this out before you invest gives you the opportunity to reconsider your choice of franchisors before you have invested your life savings.
Recognize and Quickly Analyze Opportunities
Every business can be operated more effectively. While you are learning from the best, train yourself to look for better ways to do things. What are the ways to take cost or time out of the process of serving the customer? How can you improve the customer experience? Keep a written list of your ideas. These are the things that will give you an edge in the market when it is your name on the front of the store.
In addition to spotting opportunities to improve service, keep an eye out for other opportunities that present themselves to you. They may be directly related to what you are doing — like a customer that knows of a location that that has a high demand for what you do. Or it might be a completely unrelated opportunity that is even more exciting than the franchise you are currently learning about.
Learn to notice opportunities to add value, whether you are at work or somewhere else entirely. Anytime you find yourself saying, “Wow!” or “Cool!” or “Huh?” and especially, “Someone ought to figure out how to ...” you can bet that you’ve just encountered the source of an opportunity. Let me give you an example.
Upon touching down on a flight to London, I watched a friend pop a local SIM card into his unlocked cell phone so that he could pay a few cents per minute to place calls instead of the $1.50 per minute I would be paying. Cool, I thought. And then, I wonder what kind of online fulfillment business I could start that would prepare cell phone users for international trips? Ken Grunski wondered the same thing and founded Telestial, a successful telecommunications company that offers prepaid SIM cards that work in 180 countries.
Genuinely Care About Others
While the initial decision to start a new business may be entirely yours, the moment you make that decision, you will need people in your life who have your back — as many as you can get. How you interact with them can either put your dream on the fast track or guarantee that it will never happen. You need people you can trust. And trust is most effectively built through a relationship that demonstrates that you actually care about another person.
Trust. It’s a rare commodity in life, and especially so in business. People and organizations gravitate toward those of us who have proven that we are trustworthy — we will do what we say we are going to do, we don’t have hidden agendas and we care about others’ success as well as our own. Trusting relationships work better and are more productive. An organization that is full of people who trust each other outperforms one comprised of a randomly assembled group.
Start building your dream team of the future by caring about others now. Great companies are built on great teams and you can never know enough talented people ready to jump at the chance to work with you again.
Create a Database of Expert Guides for Later
Being the owner of a business or franchise means you need to have expertise in a lot of subjects, from accounting to marketing to strategic planning. You can bet that there will be times when you face a challenge that you have no idea how to overcome. Building a list ahead of time of people who are willing to advise you when you need expert advice may just save your business.
A guide is someone who has the experience to help you make the right decision but doesn’t necessarily need to know a lot about you personally, your vision for the business, or your personal strengths and weaknesses. By having access to experts like this for straightforward questions you can save precious time with your mentor for big-picture questions.
Find A Mentor Who Has Succeeded at What You Plan to Do
There’s working hard and there’s working smart. Working smart requires you to learn from the best, but mentoring takes that idea a step further. Instead of learning from people who are a bit more knowledgeable than you or may be on the same path, mentoring offers you an opportunity to learn from someone who has successfully achieved what you want to achieve and has the experience and wisdom to offer sound, valid and possibly life-changing guidance and opportunities.
An experienced mentor can take the pie-in-the-sky vision that you are hesitant to even say out loud and, through experience and personal example, lead you to the point where you can see yourself making it happen.
Effective mentorships are hard to create because they occur between two people who have invested time in coming to know, respect and care about each other. Prime candidates for mentors are current or former bosses, teachers or family friends. Identifying this type of mentor will help you more than any other action I can recommend.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.