Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Real-Life Success Stories: 5 Franchise Owners Who Got It Done

Most folks not too familiar with the world of franchising likely view it as a way to hedge one’s bets by piggybacking off an established name or brand. And there is certainly some truth to this. However, the key to successful franchising derives from the same spirit of entrepreneurship that fuels the typical business owner. Yes, there is plenty of risk in going in on a franchise, just like there is when starting a small business from scratch. The key is a bit of luck, plenty of hard work, and an eye for calculated risk.

That’s because the history of franchising is rife with those who knew just when, where and how to stake their claim. Because while investing in a McDonald’s or Supercuts is certainly a safe bet, there’s something to be said for those who take chance on the next big thing. Here are just a few examples of this.

Johnny Rockets – Lloyd Sugarman

Lloyd Sugarman is a guy who knows what he likes, and this has served him well over the years, especially in franchising. When he walked into the very first Johnny Rockets hamburger joint in Los Angeles one day in the 1980s, he knew he had to be a part of that burgeoning burger movement. Sugarman was initially refused a meeting with the restaurant’s owner, but the new fan didn’t back down; he came back every single day until he was granted an audience. He then became the first franchisee in what would become many Johnny Rockets locations throughout the country. His success is a testament to trusting one’s gut and not giving up in the face of adversity.

Batteries Plus – Jim Growney

After being out of work for a year and a half, Jim Growney needed to make something happen. He heard through a relative that Batteries Plus, a battery and cellular accessory store, was looking to franchise. But before diving in, Jim did his homework: he met with other franchisees and learned all about the risks and rewards beforehand. He also devised a formula for success by offering “one-stop battery shopping” as well as outfitting major hotel chains with all their battery needs.

Curves – Sue W.

After knee surgery left her unable to perform certain physical activities, Sue’s body began to change for the worse. A stint at female-only gym Curves helped her to rehabilitate, and she began to think about buying a franchise. She solicited the help of a friend of hers who also ran a Curves, and now Sue owns many chains in her area. Her success is a testament to the power of mentorship in business.

Dominos Pizza – Glen Mueller

Those who do decide to go in on an established chain can take a page from Glen Mueller’s playbook and innovate their way to runaway success. Mueller owns a whopping 135 Dominos franchises, and he’s made them all successful through his creative thinking and commitment to customer service. He is the guy who first decided to use insulated pizza bags to keep the pies piping hot all the way to the customer’s front door. A healthy competitive spirit also plays into his strategy, as he so states: “Competitors never sleep. We have to continue to adapt, improve and meet customer demand.

Mr. Handyman – Jo McCabe

Not every potential franchisee needs to set a goal of rapid expansion in order to achieve that desired success. Take a look at Jo McCabe, for example. This U.S. Navy veteran from Fairfax County, Virginia couldn’t have picked worse timing to invest in her Mr. Handyman franchise in 2008, right before the economic downturn. But through hard work and a commitment to learning the fundamentals of running her business, she made it a huge success. McCabe increased profits in 2010 by some 46%, which led to her being named “Franchisee of the Year” in 2012.

No one should read this article and feel they need to be a savvy and ruthless speculator in order to run a successful franchise. What this list hopefully imparts is how fulfilling it can be to combine true belief and innovation in order to make a franchise a success over the long haul.  

Daniel Timmons is a professional blogger that provides tips and information on franchise opportunities and investments. He writes for Franchise Expo, the place to find the best franchise opportunities available.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Having A Long Term Financial Plan

financial plan

Do you have long term financial goals and a plan to reach them?  If not, developing them will be time very well spent.  Having goals gives you a concrete idea of where you want to go.  And having a plan helps you avoid getting lost on the way there.  Keeping your overall long term financial goals and plans solidly in the front of your mind helps you manage not only the large aspects of your financial life, but also the smaller, day-to-day things as well.

Most people are pretty good at setting short term goals - financial or otherwise.  They’re relatively easy because the reward of reaching the goal happens quickly.  But it can be a bit harder to remain focused on long term goals.  Life isn’t supposed to feel like a constant grind, but to some people, that’s exactly how long term goals - especially with regards to money - are perceived.

Identify Your Goals

So how do you go about setting realistic long term goals and a plan to reach them, while staying true to your own values and living a great life along the way?  Start by identifying what your long term goals really are.  Not what your parents want your goals to be.  Not what you think your goals are supposed to be.  Not what your friends’ goals are.  What do you actually want out of life?  What do you want to accomplish over the next 50 years?  Write down your thoughts.

Take Inventory

Once you’ve established long term goals that truly represent what you want your life to be, bring money into that picture.  How much do you need?  What’s your timeframe?  Will the things you want to do with your life continue to earn money, or do you need to sock away a good amount of cash now in order to do something later on that doesn’t provide an income?  Do you love your job and want to do it until you’re not physically able to, or would you retire next year if you could and do something else entirely?

Write down your answers, keeping in mind the overall goals that are the backdrop for your financial goals.  If you start with money and tell yourself that you want X amount of money saved by a certain time, without a clear picture of why and what you’re going to do with the money, you might find that it becomes difficult to stick to your financial plan, especially when faced with financial temptations and the various hiccups of life.

But if you start with your goals - the things that you really want to do, regardless of money - and then determine the financial plan necessary to achieve them, you’re much more likely to succeed.

Map it Out

Once you’ve got your goals written down and have a clear understanding of what’s necessary financially in order to achieve your goals, it’s time to chart out a clear plan.  Your goals are your foundation, and a solid understanding of what you need in terms of money is a good floor.  But your long term financial plan to make it all happen is the blueprint for the whole building.  Do you want to retire when you’re 50 and start volunteering full time for a cause close to your heart?  Do you want to switch to a part time job ten years from now so that you can take extended trips to far-flung locations?  Whatever your goals, you’re going to need a financial plan to get you there.  If you don’t have a plan and just hope for the best, it’s unlikely that you’ll be successful.  With a plan however, you stand a much better chance of achieving your goals, even if life throws you a few curve balls along the way.

Take Action

The next step is to work your long term financial plan into your day-to-day financial decisions, and find a way to track your progress.  This is a key element of success - the plan itself might stretch out over 40 years.  Waiting 40 years to determine if you’ve hit your mark is a bit of a stretch - and not particularly rewarding along the way.

So instead, break that plan down into small chunks.  For some people, annual goals are enough.  Others might want to track their progress monthly or even daily.  Whatever it is, you’ll want something that you can look forward to within a relatively short period of time.  Maybe you set yourself a goal of reducing your current expenses by 25% within the next six months, and then maintaining roughly that level of spending over the next five years (avoiding lifestyle inflation will be a huge key to reaching your financial goals).  Maybe your goal is to direct $500 each month into a savings or investment account, and then figure out a way to cut your expenses in order to live on what’s left over.  Your short term plan needs to provide a solid framework for following your long term plan, and be something that you can track and feel successful about on a regular basis.

Your short term plan can help you make financial decisions that might otherwise seem inconsequential.  Thinking about spending $50 on a new pair of shoes?  If you’re not on track to meet your savings/spending goal for the month, stop and take a minute to re-read your plans and remind yourself of your long term goals.  They’re probably much more important to you than a new pair of shoes, but if they’re just a distant picture in your mind, it’s easy to abandon them in favor of instant gratification.  Having them laid out on paper and well meshed with long and short term plans to help you achieve them keeps them fresh in your mind and makes you much more likely to make choices that will benefit you long after that pair of shoes would have been sent to the thrift store.

About the Author:
Frugal Babe is a mid-30s American wife and mama who has been careful with money since childhood and loves the flexibility that her frugality has given her. She is the face behind the Frugal Babe website and a contributor to the CareOne Debt Relief Services blog, a community that provides debt consolidation and money-saving advice.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Seven Must Have Apps to Gain Control of Your Shopping and Finances

Thinking about how to use your smartphone to save some money? You certainly aren’t the only person that’s thought about using the apps for improving their personal finances. Luckily there are some great apps out there that are designed to help you save money and improve your finances while you’re on the go.


If you’re serious about taking control of your finances Mint makes great mobile apps that will give you instant insight into your personal money flow. The apps will automatically track bank account information, credit cards, spending, and loan payments. The apps themselves are very user friendly and allow the user to clearly see a snapshot of their finances as well as the larger view. You can get the Mint apps here.


This clever app shows you what deals there are around you as well as giving you online prices that are often lower than the brick and mortar store choices. A second choice in this area is Google shopping for those peeps with an android device.You can find out more about the Shopsavvy app here and get the Google Shopper app here.


As the name suggests, this app works like your digital shoe box. You know, the one you use to throw receipts into that you never really look at again? All you have to do is take a picture of the receipt and Shoeboxed will pretty much do the rest for you. It will process the receipt into data that you will be able to look at to track your spending as well as give you a record of your receipts for future reference. You can find out more about Shoeboxed here.

Key Ring

Kiss those plastic loyalty cards goodbye! Key Ring automates and stores all of your loyalty card information in one place which means you can chuck those little plastic things on your key ring into the trash. Key Ring will even speed up the process of enrolling in a new loyalty program through the Key Ring services so you can get the savings at the register without holding up the line of people behind you. The secret here is that Key Ring works with retailers all you have to do at the register is tap the app for savings. All in all an app that is pretty cool and highly convenient. You can find out more about the app here.

Gas Buddy

While not a personal finance app per se, gas buddy will find your location and show you a list of gas stations around you sorting the list by price. Updated regularly by the social network of gas buddies the app can save you some serious dough at the pump. find out more about the GasBuddy mobile apps here.


The paypal app is a must have for anyone that shops online or gets payments online and wants to have instant access to their PayPal account. The user interface is clean and intuitive, easy to use and delivers the information you’re looking for with minimal hassle. As a further tip, if your out at dinner and splitting the bill you can easily send the cash to your dinner partner using the paypal app for instant payment without ever having to reach into your wallet. More details on Paypal's apps can be found here.


Are you in debt or out of debt? Are you spending more than you’re making or making more than you spend? With the Check app you have instant clear access to what your finances look like. What your spending habits look like and what the overall picture, good or bad looks like. Some of us would rather not see this sort of thing although those of us that rather not see the information are probably the ones who would benefit the most from this nifty little app.You can find out more about the Check app here.

About the author: Jennifer Palmer is a professional blogger who provides financial information on savings and loans. She writes for, the best place to get auto title loans and auto equity pawns.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Inventor’s Playground

Shared Workspaces (complete with 3d printers) are giving aspiring entrepreneurs a low-risk way to test ideas and build prototypes. Is this the future of product innovation?

Milwaukee Makerspace (Pete Prodoehl / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
On a sultry summer evening, a group of young people mills around in a graffiti-daubed alleyway in Toronto, playing with fire. Literally. And not just a lighter's worth. They're in the midst of constructing an out-sized arcade game that shoots flames, supplied by a series of industrial-strength spigots linked to propane tanks. The flames light up whenever a player gets a ball into a hole. Once complete, the apparatus will be shipped to Nevada to become part of the Burning Man festival's "charcade."

This pyrotechnic contraption was built in a so-called "maker-space" (a.k.a. hackspace) known as the site3 CoLaboratory, a two-storey former blacksmith's shop that now houses all manner of machinery, including a 3D printer, metal lathe, wood router and laser cutter.

Site3 is a not-for-profit that offers memberships to urban gadget aficionados who want to make stuff that requires gear most people don't have the space or the money to own.

"It's a pretty eclectic group of people," says board member Rod Frey, an expat Silicon Valley software entrepreneur, as he picks his way past inventors in the throes of developing projects. Site3 members range from data geeks to machinists to architects , making everything from jewelry to concept art. Co-founder Seth Hardy, a computer security expert by day and a "fire art" enthusiast on his own time, says site3 is used primarily by tinkerers but also attracts would-be entrepreneurs who want to build proto-types or test concepts. Frey, in fact, developed a line of eyeglasses at site3 that he has turned into a business venture.

Site3 is part of a much broader makerspace movement that is rapidly gathering momentum across Europe and North America, especially with the advent of 3D printers that are still too expensive for most startups. There are an estimated 400 makerspaces world-wide, plus a growing spinoff industry of "maker fairs" that connect thousands of gadget hounds with gear manufacturers such as Arduino, an Italy-based firm that makes low-cost chips well suited to inventors.

Entrepreneurship expert Elspeth Murray, a professor at the Queen's School of Business, describes makerspaces as "a bit of a revolution" that could kick-start domestic small-scale manufacturing.  "I've seen lots of signals that suggest it will happen," she says, citing several U.S. startups -including Pebble, a smartwatch company that raised more than $10 million on Kickstarter- that trace their origins to open-access workshops like California's Tech-Shop, a nine-location makerspace chain.

Indeed, former Wired editor Chris Anderson, whose robotics-kit startup is popular with the makerspace crowd, has argued that makerspaces could even trigger the next industrial revolution.

Chains such as TechShop and FabLabs, the latter of which emerged from MIT, allow anyone with an idea to come in, acquire some technical training and start making stuff in exchange for a membership fee. Although some chains are for-profit oper-ations, there's strong emphasis on collaboration and open-source idea-sharing.

Asylum, in Boston, is one of the largest makerspaces, with a 40,000-sq.-ft. workshop and several full-time staffers. Most other makerspaces are much smaller, and operate mainly as volunteer-run not-for-profits. (Needless to say, there's lots of information online about how to set up a makerspace.) Each facility has its own specialty.

Kwartzlab, a four-year-old makerspace in Kitchener, Ont., is arts-focused and features events such as "craft jams." Members of Protospace, which operates out of a Calgary warehouse, are drawn more toward robotics. Still others are tech-oriented. Last year, a group of Windsor, Ont., programmers established Hackforge in a spare room of the city's main library. The members focus on game development and open data; during Hackforge's first year, two founders joined forces to launch IT consultancy Parallel 42 Systems.

Board member Mita Williams, a user-experience librarian at the University of Windsor, says users also have access to a range of tools, from soldering irons to a 3D printer donated by the university's engineering lab. "Right now," she notes, "someone is using it to make a new 3D printer."

Queen's, meanwhile, recently launched Canada's first public, on-campus makerspace, Sparq Labs, using equipment housed at the university and some privately owned gear.  Some aspiring creators come with hobby projects, but many others have ideas for what they hope will be commercial inventions. Murray notes that manufacturing giants, including Ford, have begun buying employees makerspace memberships to encourage bottom-up innovation. The point is: you never know where inspired tinkering will lead.

At Hackforge, the roster of machines includes a Commodore 64, which attracts curiosity from the younger members and spurs a little intergenerational hackery. Says Williams: "It's that classic concept that ideas need space where unexpected collisions take place."
Although a kind of museum piece, that vintage computer serves as a reminder of how hobbies and tinkering can change the world.

An introverted Seattle undergrad named Bill Gates once ordered himself a DIY mini-computer featured in Popular Mechanics and started rewriting the software. Hewlett-Packard and Apple also trace their origins to inauspicious garages and basement workshops.

Could the next huge innovation pop out of a makerspace? Murray, for her part, thinks it's almost inevitable: "This is the garage
phenomenon on steroids."

Author: John Lorinc

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

You Are What You Wear

Gadgets And Apps That Help People Track And Tune Their Behaviour Are Projected To Become A US$50-Billion Market

Google Glass (Uriondo / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Back in 2007, two San Francisco tech writers launched a series of conferences about what they called the "quantified self": the use of apps and wearable devices for collecting and sharing data about your behaviour and condition, from REM sleep to the distance you walk in a day.  Now, thanks to improved sensors and batteries and the buzz around gizmos such as Google Glass, "lifelogging" is leapfrogging from a cult to a trend to everyday reality, as our smartphones, clothes and bodies become platforms for countless innovations that track-and augment-every possible aspect of our lives.

"If you want to start a company in quantified self, this is the time to do it," says Oskar Kalmaru, co-founder of Memoto, a Swedish developer of wearable cameras that drew international attention last win-ter when its US$50,000 Kickstarter campaign earned  10 times that amount. The tiny Memoto clips to users' clothes and takes a geotagged photo every 30 seconds, all day. For US$9 a month, users "back up" their memory to Memoto's cloud server so they can recall desired moments by time, place and, eventually, face recognition.
Just last year, IHS Research forecast a wearable-tech market of US$6 billion by 2016; this year, based on anticipation sur-rounding Glass and Apple's smartwatch, Credit Suisse has bumped up that number to a potential US$50 billion. ABI Research predicts that wearable-tech companies could ship 500 million units by 2018.

New products range from the astonish-ing (brainwave-controlled mood music) to the silly (running shoes that shout encour-agement). Smartphone app Moves tracks your cycling, walking and jogging activities; wristbands such as Fitbit, Nike Fuelband and Jawbone Up log your vital signs, day and night. Vigilant parents can use the Filip smartwatch and Withings monitor to keep wee ones under constant surveillance.

Manufacturers of all stripes are making their products "smart": tracking sensors now can be found in bike handlebars, socks, backpacks, bandages and-of course-pet acces-sories. One Montreal startup, OMsignal, has teamed up with local clothing designers, tech developers, health-sector entrepreneurs and textile manufacturers to produce a clothing line with body sensors built right into the fabric.

Eric Boyd, co-founder of the Toronto QS meet-up group, sees the quantified-self movement going fully mainstream. "Fitbit has already sold around three million units," he points out. "That's enormous -that's not niche anymore." Boyd's own company, Sensebridge, illustrates the limitless uses for wearables and add-ons: its North Paw anklet features a built-in compass that gives hikers a "superhuman ability to navigate their surroundings" by subtly vibrating northward.

Boyd, who frequently tests beta technologies, sees a hole in the market for devices that offer the user real-time advice such as a heart rate-triggered stress alarm that lets a runner know when to take a rest. "Almost all the quantified-self devices are passive collectors of data," he says. "That strikes me as a big loss."

Chris Silva, a mobile-tech analyst for California-based Altimeter Group, agrees there is lots of opportunity for fitness products that make sense of collected data, but recommends complementing existing hardware-as Runkeeper does for Fitbit. "Unless you're a player already, like Fitbit or Nike, you're going to face a pretty high barrier to entry," he says. Silva also advises that entrepreneurs look beyond the consumer: "Where we'll make money on things like Glass is in industrial applications, such as routing pick-and-pack in a warehouse, or as a means to watch blood pressure as you are operating."

That's exactly the future envisioned by Dr. Leslie Saxon, head of the Center for Body Computing at the University of Southern California. She says the long-term winners will be products that provide precise health data that doctors can export to charts and spreadsheets. Saxon believes the market is still waiting for sensors good enough to enable everyone to "function in their zone" by providing clear, long-term analytics that help them refine their behaviour and improve diet, sleep, fitness, blood-sugar maintenance, stress management or mental focus. "It's more about the experience than any widget," she says. "What makes it stay with a person is how it tells them a story about themselves."

Author: Melissa Edwards

Monday, 15 July 2013

Seeing your employees get rich is awesome

Seeing your employees get rich is awesome (via Pando Daily)

By Bryan Goldberg On July 15, 2013It’s no secret — and no point of shame — that people start companies with the dream of building something huge and ultimately getting rich. But there is another amazing part of startup success that founders don…

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

It's easier than ever to sell your soul

It’s easier than ever to sell your soul (via Pando Daily)

By Francisco Dao On June 4, 2013About a year and a half ago, two friends of mine, we’ll call them “Sam” and “Tommy,” decided to sell their souls to start funded Internet companies. They didn’t know they were selling their souls of course…