by: Kyle DeHaas
I help people who are interested in owning a franchise business determine if it’s the right path for them. Over the years, I’ve helped hundreds of people embark on the entrepreneurial journey. In the beginning of my experience in this field, I would work with whomever wished to go on that journey. I did this partly because I wanted to help as many people as possible, and partly because I wasn’t experienced enough to discern which people were best fit for business ownership. As I progressed, I began to recognize patterns of behavior and attitude of my clients. Those for whom business ownership is a viable option and execute on it possess behaviors and attitudes in common with each other, and distinct from those for whom entrepreneurship is not the right path. These are the traits of success that I’ve noticed in business owners, identified by the acronym DOCS. This is the prescription for success.
The sole purpose of any business is to acquire and retain customers, and it isn’t easy. You must execute, and you will make mistakes. What will you do when you routinely make mistakes? This is expected and it’s OK to mistake your way to success, as long as you learn from the experience. Don’t expect everything to go as planned. You will encounter resistance in many ways, and you must be determined to overcome the obstacles and succeed. You cannot be afraid to make and admit mistakes and move on. Learn from it, pivot your strategy, and don’t give up. If you dream of business ownership and aren’t determined enough to live your dream, you will end up working for others who are living theirs.
So you’re determined…great! As a business owner, you will receive plenty of negative signals. Although entrepreneurship can be the most rewarding path, it is usually not the easiest one. A business owner must have optimism. It inoculates you against the daily challenges you face, the skeptics, and well-meaning friends and family who want to advise you, but do not fully understand the entrepreneurial experience. You will encounter many struggles on the journey. We are born to struggle, and optimism will guide you toward your success path during the challenges you face. There’s truth to the adage: “Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are right.” Optimism makes the difference between can and cannot. You must believe you can be a business owner, or you will never be one.
Dealing with fear may be the single greatest challenge in entrepreneurship. Those who don’t have a little fear may be foolhardy. Those who make big decisions out of fear will not achieve their aspirations. As you transition from being an employee to being an owner, acknowledge that the rewards of ownership come by taking risks. When you evaluate a business venture, do you see more opportunity, or more risk? Risk and reward are two sides of the same coin. You get to choose how big you want your coin to be. If you believe in yourself, do you have the courage to invest in yourself? Fear may be the biggest obstacle: fear of failure, regret, financial loss, embarrassment, making the wrong choices, fear of the unknown. Mitigate and manage your risks intelligently with facts. Business is a horse race between greed and fear. When fear wins, investors lose. Your courage will give you the fortitude to manage risk and reward as an owner. Without it, you may wind up scurrying from one illusion of security to another throughout your career.
You may have confidence in yourself. Does your family have confidence in you? Does it matter? If you share a house or financial resources with family, it matters a great deal. In particular, support of your spouse or life partner is crucial to your success in business. If you are going into business for the first time, you are taking the step from being an employee to being an owner, and you will be employing capital to make it happen. It may likely be capital that has until now been invested in other people at other companies. You are changing your role from a passive investor to an active one, making investments in yourself and your company for your benefit. Redeploying capital that you have worked to save for years can cause fear among those in your household. If they don’t have the same level of confidence in you as you have in yourself, you will face an uphill road. A fearful spouse or other family member may very well end your business ownership plans abruptly. Be sure to include your household members in the conversation as you perform research and plan for capital investments in your venture.
DOCS: Determination, Optimism, Courage, and Support.
These traits are shared by all of the successful owners I’ve known. Three are internal, one is external. The big question: are we born with the internal traits, or are they cultivated? My belief: we are all born to struggle and succeed. Our upbringing and cultural influences dull the edge we are born with. You can change this. It isn’t easy, and it must come from within. Start with your thoughts. If you can find and tap the childlike wonder that exists within you, you will find power that you always had, but somebody along the way took away from you. Childlike wonder enables you to set out to do something difficult, because nobody told you it couldn’t be done. If you can let your childlike wonder influence your good thoughts, they lead to good deeds, which leads to good habits, which leads to good character, which leads to a life well-lived in pursuit of your calling.