October 30, 2020 · 3:19 pm
Let’s think about the stuff we trim off and often toss this Foodie Friday. You know what I mean – the ends of carrots and celery and other veggies you cut away. Often I’ll trim off some excess fat from a roast or a chicken before I cook it. If you’ve ever watched your local butcher in action, he or she trims off quite a bit from the primal cuts as they’re prepping them for sale as smaller packages.
One thing you’ll learn if you speak with older cooks, especially those who lived through hard times, is that you throw nothing away. Trimmings can be used for stock. What do you think goes into commercial sausages or hot dogs? Trimmings! Heck, even the availability of the much-in-demand McRib sandwich is partially based on the availability of pork trimmings which are used to make the pork patties (you didn’t honestly think those were deboned ribs, did you?).
One product I eat from time to time is marinated chicken thighs. Well, at least they look like boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I think they’re really chicken trimmings held together by meat glue of some sort. They’re tasty and inexpensive and a good use by a food processor of trimmings. You can call it frankenmeat; I call it delicious.
You eat more trimmings than you probably have thought about. The surimi in your California Roll is fish trimmings. Ever had a chicken nugget? The point isn’t to gross you out. I want you to remember that trimmings have a valuable role to play in the food world. It turns out they do in the business world as well.
You might have been in a business situation where someone decides to “trim the fat.” I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve worked in organizations where, over time, there was bloat. Situations and markets change but organizations often lag behind, especially when trimming is going to involve cutting people or budgets or both. We’re also in a time where automation and virtualization have dramatically changed things. This issue isn’t whether to trim. The question is what to do with the trimmings?
I’m a fan of making stock out of them. No, I don’t mean to boil the people. Instead, set them up as outside consultants. Free them to get other work while allowing them to support you with the knowledge they’ve accumulated while working for you. If a stock is the essence of something, using former employees is too, especially when they’re improved by working for others and bringing that knowledge to bear for you.
Maybe trim back offices. Not people, just the people you house every day. As we’ve all found out over the last six months, working remotely can be every bit as productive as working in an office and the organization’s expenses are reduced when it gives up the office space.
Trim technology. Does anyone have their own servers anymore? I used to be a tech executive and the pace that tech moves these days makes it impossible for any fairly large organization to keep up. I’m a fan of working with outsourced organizations that can focus on doing on tech and keeping the mothership – their clients – current and on track.
Trimming is a necessary part of food preparation. It is in business too. In either case, the trimming can and should be put to good use.
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September 30, 2020 · 2:22 pm
I’ve never jumped out of an airplane and I probably never will. I’ve had a number of friends who have done so, however. Most of them were excited about making the jump but even they had what I call the “Stuff Got Real” moment. OK, I usually use another word in place of “stuff”.
The moment comes when they reach the open door, feel the wind rushing by, and look down. That’s when whatever fear they have hits them. My guess is that there’s something in our DNA that says leaving a perfectly good aircraft when it’s several thousand feet above terra firma isn’t so smart but our DNA doesn’t know about parachutes.
That same SGR moment is something I deal with on a regular basis. The folks I work with to help them change their lives through business ownership inevitably hit the SGR moment as they realize that they can change their lives and live their dream. They have the money, we’ve found a business that they like, the numbers work, etc. That’s when they hit the open door.
No, they don’t see the ground. In some cases they know they have to leave a job even if it’s one they hate. In others, it means they have to invest (read that as risk) a chunk of their life’s savings in their new venture even if it’s a venture that dozens or hundreds of others have proven to be successful. It’s scary and because of that, quite of few of the people who travel this road with me vanish at this point. They quit returning calls and emails. They go back to what Thoreau termed their lives of quiet desperation.
Maybe it’s a good thing. Starting your own business, even one that’s an established business model with a known brand is hard. Sure, you’re given an operations manual and a marketing plan. You’ll be trained by people who have been running the business for years. You might even have a mentor assigned to you for a period of time to guide you. That’s all well and good but YOU have to stand in the open door and jump, even though you’re strapped to people who have made the jump many times before. You have to commit to the jump and not everyone can do that.
I tell myself when a prospective owner balks or disappears that they are probably part of the 99% for whom business ownership isn’t the best path. Lately, I’ve taken to warning folks early in the process that they’re going to face the SGR moment and I’m here to help as are any franchisors we decide to investigate. Hopefully, that helps when the wind hits their faces and just maybe they step through the door. Could you? Let me know if you want to try.
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January 1, 2020 · 12:50 pm
Happy New Year and a new decade to boot! This post was the most-read screed I published in 2019. It’s fitting both to end and to begin the year with it since the topic involves change. This is the time of the year when many people stop and assess their lives which often leads to change. This piece, originally titled “Taking The Beaten Path” has to do with some issues involved in starting your own business. I published it last February and I hope you’ll give it a read and some thought if you’re thinking about starting fresh in 2020.
One of the questions that has come up often in my newish role as a franchise consultant has been why one should look to invest in a franchise to begin with rather than starting a business from scratch. After all, there are generally fairly substantial franchise fees associated with a franchise along with the other expenses one might expect when starting a business plus you usually have on-going royalties. You’ll still have to pay to incorporate, you still often need insurance, licenses, equipment, space, and people. Why incur the extra fees on top of the ordinary expenses? It’s a good question and I have what I think are some good answers. If you’re thinking of starting a business or maybe changing the nature of the business you’re running, here are my thoughts.
First, the biggest advantage of buying into a franchise is that it’s a business in a box. It’s a proven business model, one that comes with built-in support. Almost every franchise I work with has some form of training and on-going mentoring. I think about that in terms of the businesses that have hired me to consult in the past. Much of what I did would have been covered by that sort of support, negating the need for an outside consultant. The franchise will have research and the business results of all the other franchisees. That’s invaluable and beats the heck out of going it alone.
Another consequence of that is you’ll probably experience much faster growth. You won’t be spending time formulating a business plan. Instead, you’ll be getting trained and executing one that has been time-tested. Something as simple as logo design, which can take time and several iterations, is not really a concern. You’ll generally be presented with operations manuals and marketing materials. Your time to market is greatly decreased.
One thing that is much easier is financing your business. Franchises are less risky in lenders’ minds since they’re known brands and proven businesses. While banks aren’t the best source for franchise ending, there are many lenders who specialize in that (I work with 6 of them) and SBA loans are easier to come by as well. Finally, your potential customers will already know who you are. Most franchises have good brand recognition, and even those that don’t have a current local presence can often benefit from being seen as part of a bigger entity.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that roughly 1 in 5 of all businesses in the U.S. close after the first two years of operation and a little over a third shut their doors after four years. You can beat those odds by taking the beaten path and investing the franchise fee to gain the above benefits. In my mind, and why I added this to my consulting portfolio, that investment yields as good or better returns than blazing your own new trail. What do you think?
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