[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwEMiu6Z5GY&feature=plcp expand=1] Everybody wants to know “How much money am I going to make in this business?” That makes sense to me. If I was buying a franchise, I’d want to have a pretty good idea how much money I could expect to make? We’re taught that one of the advantages of a franchise is that you can learn all about it before you buy. So, what else should you want to learn? We give our clients two lists of questions: One to ask franchisors, and one to ask franchisees. These are just conversation starters though. Once you get into a conversation, you’ll start to think of all sorts of topics. Some of the things to ask the franchise companies are about the franchising history: How long have they been franchising, and how many franchisees do they have? One important question is about how many franchises have closed in recent years. If that is a high number, it is a warning sign – something you at least want to learn more about. And don’t forget to evaluate the franchisor’s health, too. They are required to give you a copy of their financial statements – so look at those and assess their likelihood of sustainability. You also want to ask about the training they provide. How long is it? What does it cover? What kind of follow up help do they provide? (Because you are certain to still need support the formal training process.) You’ll also want to ask about the investment. Be sure to find out both what the initial investment is, and what you’ll need in working capital after you open for business. Whatever sort of business your franchise is in, you’re bound to have competition. And, the better the business idea, the more competition you’re likely to have. Be sure to learn about the competition. Who are the major players? What advantages will you have in competing with them? Are there any areas you might have a competitive disadvantage? That’s a starting point for your conversations with the franchiser. What about the franchisees? What can you find out from them? A lot of your questions will cover the same areas as the questions you asked the franchisers. You’ll want to ask the franchisees about the training and support they received. Most importantly, ask about the quality. How good was the training? How strong is the support? When you need help, are you able to get it? Is the help good enough to actually be of help? Ask about their costs. You’ve already asked the franchisor how much your total investment should be. Now ask the franchisees what their actual investment was. Compare this to what the franchisor told you. Ask what the biggest challenges are in this business. Every business has some headaches. Find out what those are likely to be in your new franchise. If the franchisee is successful, ask them what makes them successful. Ask what the essential steps are to becoming successful. You can often learn more from someone who is struggling in their business. Ask those franchisees what issues they are finding. By the time you’re making these calls you’ve probably started to learn what the most important steps to success are. Is the franchisee taking these steps? If this business requires sales calls or advertising or hiring employees – is the franchisee doing these things? That will tell you a lot about what you need to do in order to succeed. This article opened with the question “How much money am I going to make in this business?” Now is your chance to find out. Ask the franchisees how much you can expect to make if you work hard and work smart. They’ll tell you, and you’ll gain an understanding of what this business is like in the real world. Then ask what I believe is the most valuable question to ask: If you had to do it all over again, would you invest in this franchise? You really can find out all about a franchise before you buy. How? By asking questions. The best question to ask? That’s easy: The one you want the answer to.
We get it. Looking for work can be scary, especially if you’ve been at it for a long time and haven’t gotten any results.
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One portion of an employee’s personal development is work-related, but there is more. When you think of an employee’s personal development do you think of the skills for them to keep current, get a promotion, or transfer to another department? Improving core skills such as analytical abilities, critical thinking, and/or decision making? Skills to take on a leadership role and manage staff? Obtaining higher credentials?
Assuming so, organizational leaders should:
1. Make sure you understand what employees do and how it aligns with the company’s goals
2. Let employees do the job you hired them to do (leveraging their strengths and interests); nobody likes to be micromanaged
3. Challenge employees with stretch goals
4. Encourage employees to learn new things and give them the tools they need to learn:
- Read books, magazines, trade journals, newsletters, blogs
- Watch online videos, listen to podcasts
- Take courses (in-person, online) and attend webinars, workshops, conferences
- Company-provided training - Microsoft Office, application-specific courses
- Hard skills such as an SQL class, foreign language
- Effective communication skills - writing classes or speaking training (e.g., Toastmasters)
- Other soft skills - time management, problem solving
- Learning platforms - LinkedIn Learning, MasterClass
- Leadership-related training
- Supervisor skills, management trainee program
- Some will want to manage people, but others won’t and that’s ok
- Professional license, certification (e.g., PMP, CISSP), college degree
- Don’t forget to support CPE (continuing professional education) requirements
- Groups - professional associations, networking groups, etc.
- Other - internships, volunteer opportunities
These are great work-related considerations, but there is more. There is a saying by Confucius: “I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.” Do you encourage employees’ personal development (and the key word is personal) to be the best version of themself? Have you asked them what is important to them? If it’s important to them, it should be important to you too.
Developing A Growth Mindset
Personal development is lifelong learning and it’s never too late to start. Encourage employees to develop a growth mindset and continue learning while working for the company. This includes opportunities to:
1. Enhance their quality of life such as health/fitness, self-care, self-confidence2. Self-improvement to fully develop their character, capabilities, and potential
- Develop a reading habit
- Personal finances, personal creativity, or other personal-related learnings
- “Work-related” skills listed above even if they aren’t relevant to their current role
- Some organizations (such as Amazon, Chipotle, and Starbucks) have free or practically free college programs for front-line employees, which removes financial barriers
3. Realize their dream - maybe to become an entrepreneur and start their own business
How To Create A Custom Personal Development Plan For Employees
Has your organization recognized that they need to think differently about developing employees? They should work together with the employee to create a custom personal development plan (PDP) based on what the employee is interested in (including both work and personal aspects). Four basic steps are:
1. Perform a self-assessment
2. Establish and prioritize goals (both short and long term) breaking up the goals into manageable tasks
3. Create a step-by-step plan identifying required resources, timelines, etc.
- Identify objectives to reach the goals as well as strategies to achieve the tasks
- Identify any weaknesses, development needs, barriers
4. Measure progress
- Reward and celebrate accomplishments
- Be prepared for setbacks - adjust and course correct
As a leader, be available when employees want to talk with you as well as periodically check in with them to ensure they have a good work-life balance. Both of these could be good coaching/mentoring opportunities.
When there is a comprehensive personal development plan, the employee is more likely to be and stay excited about what’s next (and stay with the organization longer). For more information about personal development, follow me on LinkedIn!
I got an email yesterday from a client wanting to know if I had any job search tips. Unfortunately, he had been recently laid off and found himself on the job market. Talking to him got me thinking...What really makes a job search successful?
The bad news is that there isn't a magic formula. The good news is that there are a number of very simple things you can do to improve your marketability.
Here are four easy steps to follow if you want to speed up your job search:
1. Update Your Resume As Soon As Possible
This might sound simple, but it is by far the most important (and first) step in a job search. You need to have your resume ready to roll at a moment's notice.
The way I see it, there are two kinds of job seekers. There is the job seeker that draws confidence from being prepared and then there is the kind of job seeker that gets blindsided by the unexpected. I know which kind I'd rather be.
The best time to focus on your resume is when you don't need it.
2. Figure Out Who Your Resume Is For
Is your resume for you or is it for prospective employers? The resume might have your info, experience, and accomplishments on it, but, ultimately, the documents that make it past the ATS not only have the right amount of keywords peppered throughout but also show, very clearly, what the applicant can do forthe potential employer.
When writing your resume, always keep potential employers at the forefront of your mind. Make sure you quantify your experience, skills, and accomplishments. Give them a preview of the kind of positive impact you could have on their organization if they were to hire you.
3. Realize It's Not About You
Really. It's not. The most successful job seekers understand that it's about what you do for others, not about what they can do for you.
This is a fundamental idea that for some I hope turns the act of "networking" completely upside down. In every interaction, the most important thing is to demonstrate, "How can I help YOU?" It's the folks who unselfishly look out for those around them who make opportunities happen. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
What connections can you help make? Ask open-ended questions. You may even choose to treat the conversation like an informational interview. What professional needs does the other party have and how can you fill them?
4. Determine Your Target
This is such a simple concept, but it's probably the biggest obstacle I see with many of my clients. You need to have a target. It is as easy as that. How can you expect to reach the goal of employment without aiming for a bullseye?
The first step is to clearly identify the job/profession/industry you are targeting. You may even have a company that you've always wanted to work at. (It's always a good idea to have an interview bucket list—a list of companies you're passionate about that you'd love to work for someday.)
Make sure that your goal aligns with your experience. Then (and only then) are you free to begin outlining a plan to achieve your goal.
Here's an example:
I have an open door policy with my resume clients and I keep tabs on them throughout their job searches. Out of all the resumes and resume clients I've ever had, only one resume didn't work. One. When I wrote the initial resume, my client was targeting retail sales positions. Then she called one day a couple of months into her job search wondering why she wasn't getting any responses. I asked her to send me an example of the jobs she was applying for and guess what? All the online job applications she had filled out were for human resources positions. No wonder her resume didn't work!
After rewriting her resume, she found work relatively quickly and it just goes to show how important it is to aim before you pull the trigger.
Know your audience, be proactive, and remember that it's not about you. If you apply these things to your job search, you'll be employed in no time!
Need more help with your job search?
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.