Franchise Founder: which one are you?
In the pursuit of making the right first hire as an emerging franchisor, my last blog post was focused on identifying what tasks you, as founder, do not like doing, are not good at, yet are necessary to drive your company’s economic engine. That is always my starting point when determining who I need to hire next. But I don’t stop there. Next up?
What is the personal magic you yourself bring to your brand?
One of the major roadblocks on your path to scale will be yourself. You, as the founder, will wear many hats – in some cases all of the hats – and an important part of scaling your operations beyond corporately-owned units will be 1) taking some of those hats off and 2) determining which hats to take off at the right time. Deliberate, careful thinking must go into this planning, for it can make or break your company’s growth.
In my last post, we spoke about determining your true weaknesses in growing your organization, and which of those weaknesses could have the greatest economic impact if you didn’t hire an employee to take it over. Today we will cover the opposite side of the equation: what functions should you, as the founder, focus on doing to grow and scale your franchise system?
To help determine this, I go back to Jim C. Collins’ concept from his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t: the Hedgehog concept. You need to figure out whether you are a hedgehog or a fox.
In a famous essay by Isaiah Berlin “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” he divided the world into hedgehogs and foxes, based upon an ancient Greek parable: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
In researching what makes companies truly great, he found that those who built the good-to-great companies were hedgehogs. They used their hedgehog nature to drive toward what we came to call a Hedgehog Concept for their companies. Those who led the comparison companies (the “good” companies) tended to be foxes, never gaining the clarifying advantage of a Hedgehog Concept, being instead unfocused and inconsistent.
Founders tend to gravitate toward the fox. Part of this stems from the fact that the founder typically wills their way to success and does every single function within the organization to get it to the franchising stage. In many cases, the founder may be pretty good at most of the functions. And so, they hold on to these tasks and functions for far too long. And then the magic that the founder originally brought to the franchise system dims as the founder becomes mired in the many operational details of building and scaling a brand.
When we apply the hedgehog concept to the founder, we strip away all of the tasks they have been doing inside of their own company, and begin to focus on what they actually have the potential to be best at (and also, as outlined in Whom Do I Hire to Help Scale My Franchise Business? Part 1, what they cannot be best at). Once a founder can gain this insight into herself, she can begin to unlock the pieces of the puzzle that so often limit scale in franchising.
Looking back personally, as we grew our franchise system, the more I was able to get back to doing the things that I was really good at doing, the faster we grew. But to get there? We had to hire the right people so that I could focus on the right things.
So, as a founder, how do you determine your focus?
Take out a piece of paper. Draw 3 large circles on the page that overlap.
In Circle #1: what am I genetically encoded for?
Huh? What does this mean John? What were you born to do? What are you so good at that it comes very naturally to you? What do you have the potential to be world-class at? I will point out that although this is usually something that comes naturally, it can be trained. Your job is to figure out the answer.
For me, it came down to a few things. I have always said that I’m not very good at a lot of things, but I have superpowers in three areas:
- I can build/develop/create something, from scratch to 80% completion in the fastest time in the world (Ok, maybe not the world, but it’s fast!) It truly is my god given talent. BUT, ask me to go past 80% completion and I will slow right down and may not ever even finish it.
- I can develop a strategy and reverse engineer it to build out an execution plan.
- Inside my company? I have a knack for creativity on the brand and marketing side of the business. I will need someone to help execute the brand and marketing tactics, (see above weakness) but I wouldn’t want to be the person who becomes the CMO under me. If following the Hedgehog model, this would be one of the roles that I would not give up for a long time.
In Circle #2: what am I deeply passionate about?
The idea behind this question is very simple: we tend to do things much better when we love doing them. If you’re not passionate about something you cannot possibly become great at it and you will lose steam and happiness as you grow and scale your brand.
So, perhaps the question to ask yourself is, what activity do you enjoy so much that you would be willing to do it for free?
For me, it would be the creativity on the marketing and brand side. I love creating, and would easily do it for free.
In Circle #3: what drives the economic engine of my company?
Whatever job function you keep as the founder must have a HIGH economic impact on the company. Once they begin to hire a team around them, it surprises me how many founders want to focus on functions they are passionate about but which do not add a huge amount of value to the organization. This is why this might be the most important question to define (and the reason it shows up twice in this exercise).
Now: Where do these circles intersect? Where is the crossover between all 3 circles? When you get to this overlap, you are getting to the most important tasks that should be your main responsibilities as the founder.
You have now performed two exercises:
- You have determined what you as Founder, should not be doing inside your company.
- You have determined what you as Founder, should be doing inside your company.
After having answered these questions, you will have a clear idea of what role you should be hiring for to scale your franchise system. When you, as the founder of your franchise system, can spend more of your time on the things in your business that you excel at, your franchise will flourish. And you will be able to maintain that entrepreneurial happiness as you grow and scale to multiple locations.