The Well-Worn Path

There is a place … a wonderful place … a place where most everyone wants to be. It is a place of wonderful natural beauty and worldly riches. It is a place of personal freedom and family security. It is a place where others sing your praises as someone of integrity and wisdom.

There are two paths you can follow to get to this wonderful place. The first path starts with a slow trudge, cutting a swath through 25 miles of dense, inhospitable swampy jungle. Then just outside the jungle is a raging river one must carefully traverse, testing leg strength and balance. Finally, once across the rapids, one must ascend a challenging mountainous 5,000-foot climb to the wonderful place.

A well traveled trail covered with footprints and hedged in by a wooden fenceThe second path is a well-worn one. This path starts on a well-defined trail that provides for easy passage through the swampy jungle. Then the well-defined trail leads to a sturdy, wooden footbridge that allows one to safely cross the raging river. Once across the bridge, the well-worn path leads you to a series of stairs that allow for a challenge-free ascent up the mountain to the wonderful place.

Whether you choose the well-worn path or the challenge-riddled path, you end up in the same place. Either path will take you to this wonderful place, where you can enjoy a magnificent life of reasonable freedom, moderate fame, and relative fortune. You just have to choose the path and begin the journey.

Like this destination, being in business for yourself is a wonderful place. It offers financial rewards, freedoms, and security, as well as accolades from family, friends, and peers in the local community.

Like traveling to the wonderful place, however, there are two paths to business ownership. One path is challenge-riddled. You will need to blaze your own trail … trudging through decision after decision associated with pricing, quality, and strategies to take on well-funded competitors … carefully traversing ordeals related to branding, marketing, and advertising … and handling the daily issues related to legal matters, employment concerns, and government regulation.

Or, on the road to business ownership, you could choose the well-worn path: Purchasing a Franchise. You will still need to take the journey, but on this path, most of the challenges, issues, and pitfalls along the way have already been worked through.

Either way, in the end, you still end up in a wonderful place. The question becomes, on the journey to get there how much risk do you want to take and effort do you want to expend?

If you are interested in the wonderful place known as “business ownership” and want to do it through AmSpirit Business Connections, contact Frank Agin, President of AmSpirit Business Connections, at frankagin@amspirit.com or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

A Piece of Cake: Business Success Through Franchising

Chocolate cake with piece take out, on white backgroundWho doesn’t love cake? No one, that’s who. Some might like one kind more than another – white, chocolate, sponge, angel food, upside down, or whatever. Nevertheless, everyone loves cake.

There are two ways of baking a cake. With the first, before you bake the batter you have to gather up all the various ingredients. You will need things like all-purpose flour, salt, milk, shortening, flavoring, and baking powder (not soda … very important). Then you will need to correctly measure each, being sure not to confuse cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons. Finally, you need to mix it all up in the right order.

With the second way, you buy a box of cake mix, add some milk, a couple eggs and you are good to go. Either way (after 25 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees and some frosting), you have delicious cake to enjoy. Yum!

Success in business is much the same. Who wouldn’t want to have their own successful business? Any reasonably intelligent person, like you, would. After all, who doesn’t love freedom, pride of ownership, and the ability to chart their own course?

Again, there are two ways to accomplish this. With the first, you need to develop the concept, including the product or service, pricing, as well as means of distribution. Then you work up the branding, such as logos, marketing materials and advertising programs, and diligently protect it all with copyrights and trademarks. Finally, you pull this all together in a process, which might include legal agreements, training and
development programs, procedures for dealing with employees and unhappy customers, as well as researching equipment, technologies and other infrastructure. Whew!

With the second way, you simple buy a franchise. Either way (after infusing commitment, energy, and enthusiasm), you have your own successful business. Cool!

The only question remaining is whether you want to undertake the incredibly complicated (and risky) process of building a successful business from scratch or essentially grabbing one ready-to-go off the shelf? Remember with franchising, business success is really a piece of cake.

If you are interested in exploring a unique, professional franchise opportunity, consider AmSpirit Business Connections. For more information, contact Frank Agin, President of AmSpirit Business Connections at frankagin@amspirit.com, or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

The New Corporate Alchemy: Gold Watches To Pink Slips

There once was a nobler time. You studied hard. From there you learned a trade or earned a degree, which you could parlay into that first job. It wasn’t just a job, however. It was the beginning of a career. Sure, you started at the bottom, but there was plenty of opportunity to work your way up. One rung at a time you climbed the corporate ladder. Associate. Senior associate. Supervisor. Manager. Junior assistant. V.P.

In addition, the environment was positive. Pay raises were always respectable. Time off was seldom an issue. Moreover, by working diligently from nine to five during the week, the evenings and weekends were yours.

After 40-or-so years of this, you had done your time. Surrounded by admiring co-workers, your service to “the company” was celebrated. Gold WatchSeveral heartfelt speeches from people who considered you a friend. A big cake. And a gold watch. Finally, an appreciative higher-up, walked you to your car and sincerely told you, “Be well … See you around … Don’t be a stranger.”

From there, you settled into retirement. Drawing on a well-funded pension, social security, and health coverage, you did not have a care in the world. It was a nobler time.

That nobler time, however, is not now. Somewhere along the way, the world changed. No one is to blame. It just did. Whatever the case, the change was not to your benefit. No longer is a degree or a trade good enough to steer you clear of a dead-end job. You might need additional certification or a Masters, if you are lucky enough not to have to start over because technology made your “stock in trade” obsolete.

Even when you find that job with career potential, you are not set. Wage freezes and shrinking benefits are now the norm. Moreover, you seem to be permanently stuck in a no-advancement mode. Any hope of change is the result of a lateral move, either internally or to another company.

While the overall compensation and opportunity dwindles, the work doesn’t. Even starting work at 0-Dark-30 does not immunize you from having to work into the evening and over the weekend. As such, you sacrifice time with friends, family, or whatever.

Moreover, no matter how hard you work (or how little you accept) the whispers persist. From behind closed doors in offices far away, these voices are the higher-ups you have never met. They’re pouring over nameless and faceless numbers, pondering as to whether “the company” can replace you with someone or something less expensive.

While today that answer may be “NO,” it won’t always be. One day, that “pondering” will not come out in your favor. In an era of downsizing, off-shoring, and automation, it is no longer a question of “If” but “When.”

A pink sticky note sitting on a computer keyboard You are firedAt that point, a stranger abruptly escorts you to the door. There is no celebration. There is no cake. There is no explanation other than, “Your services are no longer necessary.” Just like that in a perverse sort of alchemy, “corporate America” has transformed your gold watch into a “pink slip” and nothing more.

This is the new corporate reality, like it or not. While you have little control over it, you have options to avoid it. One is to become your own boss and acquire your own piece of the American dream. Statistics show that the best way of doing this is through franchising.

If you are interested in exploring a unique, professional franchise opportunity, consider AmSpirit Business Connections. For more information, contact Frank Agin (frankagin@amspirit.com), President, AmSpirit Business Connections or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

The Era Of The Franchise

Empty Conference RoomNearly one-hundred-some-odd years ago, in a dusty field, somewhere in middle America, a Son told his Father that he was no longer going to farm.

The Son announced that he was joining Corporate America. Although farming was the only way his generation ever conceived of earning a living, he knew that farming would no longer pay him what he was worth.

Even though those who continued to farm ridiculed his optimism about the potential of Corporate America, the Son believed that the World was changing. The demand for industrialization created a tremendous market for his labor, and the Son knew that Corporate America would pay him what he was worth.

The Son was right. The World was changing and Corporate America paid him what he was worth. However, those who continued to farm, believing that life would never change, were left struggling, earning only a fraction of what they were worth.

While the Son continued to labor, Corporate America realized that if it just paid the Son a little less than he was worth, then Corporate America would generate more wealth for itself. The pay reduction, however, was so small that the Son didn’t even notice. As the Son didn’t notice, the next year Corporate America held back a little bit more. Again, unnoticed, Corporate America held back a little more the next year. And then the next. And then the next. And then the next.

FranchiseOne-hundred some-odd years later, somewhere in a stress-laden office, a Son is telling his Father that he is not going to work for Corporate America. The Son announces that he is going to purchase a franchise. Although working for Corporate America is the only way his generation ever conceived of making a living, the Son knew he could no longer earn what he was worth working for Corporate America. Again, the Son was right.

Rapidly the World is changing before our eyes. Consistent pay raises have given way to ongoing wage freezes. The notion of lifetime employment is being replaced by downsizing, outsourcing, and off-shoring. It is no secret: to build wealth in America you need to build business. To ensure success, however, you are best to not go at it alone, which is where the notion of franchising comes in. We are now in the era of the franchise.

Knowing this, are you going to take advantage of a changing World, or are you going to let a changing World take advantage of you? In thinking about your answer, if you are interested in exploring a unique, professional franchise opportunity, consider AmSpirit Business Connections. For more information, contact Frank Agin (frankagin@amspirit.com), President, AmSpirit Business Connections or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

Building A Networking Relationship: 1 of 7

“How Do I Go About Getting Others To Know, Like & Trust Me?”In the world of business and professional networking, that is the $64,000 question.

One Answer is Never Stop Giving. The Golden Rule of Networking states “give first, get second.” In short, if you want to get things from your network, you need to give to it. Focus on giving to others … give referrals … give additional contacts … give opportunities … give information … give encouragement … give support … give, give, give.

When you give to others they cannot help but Know, Like and Trust you. As a result the people you give to will want to return the generosity. In addition, you will develop the reputation of being a “generous person.” This will inspire others to want to contribute to you, as they come to believe that you are likely to give back.

This is powerful and should become almost a daily habit.

  • Share information with others and they will share information back.
  • Give referrals to centers of influence in your network and they will go out of their way to return the deed.
  • Help your prospective clients with things unrelated to what you sell and you will be forever on the top of their mind (perhaps referring you clients down the road).
  • Be supportive of your clients and vendors and they will “rave” to others about you.

With everyone you encounter, ask yourself, “In what way could I help them?” When the answers come to you, take action. That will build Know, Like, and Trust like nothing else.

J (Giving)

Creating A Referral Machine 7 of 7

You have established relationships and you have empowered that network. Great! Know this, however, there is no such thing as perpetual motion. Far too often, people work hard to create a referral machine only to watch it “peter out” or break down altogether because they erroneously assume that an empowered network will just keep kicking out referrals.

Think of creating a referral machine like pushing a car: You have to work really hard to get the car rolling. Once the car is rolling you do not have to exert much force to keep it moving, but it still takes mild effort (and you dare not let it come to a stop, because then it is like starting over).

With creating a referral machine, the establishing relationships and empowering the network is the Herculean push to get things moving, the mild force to keep it all moving involves three things.

Ask … Continue to ask for ways you can help your network. Yes, continue to ask for referrals, but also ask for things that your network might not see. From time to time, someone will become frustrated with their network because it is not referring something that seems obvious to them. Remember those who make up your referral machine do not live in your world. They do not always see it the way you do. Do not be afraid to ask.

“Can you introduce me to this person?”

“Could you get me an opportunity to speak at this event?”

“Would you keep your eye open for this?”

keep the gears

Do not be afraid that your network will be annoyed. Remember, if you do it right they know you, like you, and trust you.

Appreciate … Second, no matter what your network does for you, thank them. If they send you a referral or do anything of value, fall all over yourself thanking them. Celebrate your joy with them.

If a referral goes nowhere, fall all over yourself thanking them. Why? First, the glass is always half full. The fact they are thinking of you is an excuse enough to celebrate. Your referral machine is working!

Second, appreciation is a wonderful motivator. You dole it out and people want more. And they will do what is necessary to get more. Know this, few people “thank” others. Therefore you will really set yourself apart when you show appreciation towards others.

Clarify … Finally, no matter how well you educate and empower, your network is going to get it wrong from time to time. They want to help you, but they are going to send you referrals that are, well, bad.

So what? Don’t get frustrated. Remember, the glass is half full. They want to help and they are trying. Take the opportunity to reconnect with them and clarify. One small correction in how they are perceiving what is a good referral for you could spell the difference between continued bad referrals and a great new client.

Creating A Referral Machine 4 of 7

Okay, there are lots of potential people with whom to establish a relationship. What about the “HOW”? How can you make this happen?

keep the gears

Yes, there are lots of people. That is generally not the problem. That is seldom people’s shortcoming in creating a referral machine. It is the “how” that trips people up.

In establishing relationships, there are three main categories of activities you need to consider making part of your personal regimen. (1) Giving or adding values to others; (2) Ensuring that you become involved; and (3) Making sure that you are dependable or reliable in what you say and do.

First, When people hear the term “GIVING TO OTHERS”, they tend to conjure up images dragging out their wallets. That is not the case at all. There are lots of things you can do in giving or adding value to others.

o Do business with others.

o Sending them referrals.

o Providing them with information.

o Spurring them on.

o Introducing them to others.

Each of these things add value to others. The key part of all of this, however, is that when you add value to others, they cannot help but feel they know you, like you, trust you. And somehow, they are quietly compelled to return the deed at some point in time.

Second, another means of establishing relationships, is getting involved with your community.

Trust this, no matter where you live, there are business groups, charities and civic initiatives that could use your time, talent and energy. When you get involved in your community, it raises your level of exposure and it demonstrates your commitment. With these things, people cannot help but feel they know you, like you and trust you, which is exactly what you need to start establishing relationships and create a referral machine.

Finally, while adding value and getting involved are great for establishing relationships. You, however, will undermine the entire process, if you are not reliable. With even an innocent infraction of unreliability, you can kill your chances getting referrals. Be reliable … be on time … do what you say… follow-up, as you promise. And if for some reason you are unable to do these things, alert the person who might be relying as soon as possible.

This may all seem like common sense. It is. It is, however not common practice. It has tripped up even those with the best of intentions. Guard against this.

Nevertheless, once you have these relationships established, you can start to put your referral machine to work. That is the subject to part 5.

Networking Is Nothing New

Networking is simply human interaction and it has been with us since the beginning of time. These human interactions are really just the relationships we have with one another. How we connect. Some connections are passing. Some connections are more lasting. Some connections are seemingly lifelong.

Given this, networking is, more or less, really just human behavior. Talking. Listening. Understanding. Being empathetic, encouraging, inspiring, smiling, laughing, and being a friend. Thus, all human behavior involving other people are relationship-based and is networking.

S (Old Book)

The wonderful thing about human behavior is that there are patterns to it. While the patterns may not be perfectly predictable – as you might find with a chemical reaction or a physics experiment – there are patterns generally there.

Whenever there are patterns, however, there is curiosity. And whenever there is curiosity, you will find people of science trying to explain the patterns through studying, observing, and examining them.

Human behavior involving our relationships is no different. The social sciences – sociology, psychology, and economics, just to name a few – for years have examined how humans relate to one another, both personally and professionally.

30 Second Commercial 8 of 8

If you think about it, considering all these different options and orders, there are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of different 30-second commercials for you. So do not stop at just one. Rather select a handful of the ones that you feel are the most powerful for you and where you are the most comfortable saying them. Go with these.

Like anything, however, you will not get good at delivering your 30-second commercials without preparation, planning and practice.

Write Them: Using something as basic as a small note pad or 3×5 cards, neatly write or type your commercials for future reference.
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Review Them: Once you have them written out, keep them handy so that you can practice or review them from time to time (just a few minutes each week is plenty).

Use Them: When someone then asks, “Who are you?”, do not hesitate. Have the courage to launch into one of your 30-second commercials (picking the appropriate one for the time and place).

Refine Them: Your 30-second commercials are always a work in process. You should look for ways to update them, make them more clear or better represent you.

30 Second Commerical 5 of 8

Everyone has competition, including you. What makes you unique amongst your competition?

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Again, WHY you? Your 30-second commercial needs to convey credibility and confidence that serves to answer that question before it is asked. Consider an example.

“Not only have I helped more than 100 people get into the right franchise, I also spent 10 years as a CPA … helping my clients know what they were getting.”

Who would a prospective franchisee prefer to work with? Just anyone or someone with this background? The answer should be obvious (at least the question was intended to be rhetorical). The point is that Inspiring Confidence (answering the “WHY you?,”) is vital to your 30-second commercial.