Sarah Carlile, Founding Partner of Coconut Creatives, the only marketing company to be accredited by the bfa offers her advice on preparing for a successful and sustainable 2012.

Whether you are looking to start a business or buy a franchise, now is a really good time of year to ask yourself some questions. What will be the best industry to be in, in 2012 onwards? How will the changes in Government affect me? What franchises are growing and providing profitable sustainable business opportunities.  In the UK there are around eight hundred franchisors both from inside and outside the British Franchise Association, all looking to recruit the best candidates for their franchise network. Could that be you?

October through to April is the most important time of year to focus on business development. The kids are at school, the summer holidays are over with and Christmas provides an ideal opportunity for reflection on the previous year’s accomplishments. As we approach Christmas many people start to re-evaluate their life choices and a big part of this is their career. We are all familiar with cyclical national headlines such as ‘new year new career’ but how you maximise your chances to capitalise on business opportunities will depend on a number of factors:

It is all about timing. Being in the right place, at the right time and meeting the right franchisors for you. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Review online profile’s for franchisors: it is really important that you can access current information including availability of territories, current prices, quotes and case studies. You can spend time comparing information you find on different website against information on 3rd party websites. If you find conflicting information on different recruitment websites, the franchisor could be unprofessional or just not keep their communications up to date and this can give you an indication of how they might treat you if you bought into the business.
  2. Case studies are really useful to you to build a picture of the types of people that have already bought into the franchise. Many franchisors like the van based franchise, Cafe2U will offer video case studies which are very useful in understanding what you might do on a daily basis. The reality is that if they invest in video and better communications, they are likely to be investing more in you when you join. You can gain a huge amount of confidence by reviewing case studies and if you can’t find any that are publicly available, call the franchisor and request some.
  3. Social Media sites like LinkedIn can be very useful to gain an insight into the business community that you are interested in. Whether you choose a business or a franchise, ensure you join LinkedIn and sign up for some of the special interest groups. See how they communicate with each other and what discussion topics are brought up.
  4. Consider ALL your options including who the client/ customer will be. Is the market growing? Do you see it growing through 2012? Undertaking due diligence into the market sector, general growth statistics online can give you a good indication of whether your chosen sector and business will work for you.
  5. Read around the subject: Magazines such as this one and newspapers will have a number of features on business opportunities. These are great for you to review and to gather information on specific individual businesses and also sectors that you could be well suited to.
  6. Make sure you reach a decision! Ensure you do set yourself a deadline for making a decision about your next career or business move. It is easy to get stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’ and spend so much time deciding what to do, that you never actually get on and do it! Make sure you evaluate all your options and make an informed decision on moving ahead. Gut instinct is usually right, so let this also guide you.
  7. Relationships are key: No matter how good a franchise opportunity, you need to make sure you get on with the franchisor you will be working with. Relationships are key for your ongoing business development, especially where training takes place.

Overall consider whether a business or a franchise is right for you. Franchises can often be seen as the more expensive choice but the reality is often that the money you invest will save you time and money later on by avoiding common mistakes.