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Are you thinking of starting your own business? Before you make the leap, take Mitchell York’s advice. The author of Freedom or Fantasy: How to Know if a Franchise Is Right for You After Your Corporate Career, York reinvented himself after 20 years as a corporate executive, buying a Maui Wowi Coffees & Smoothies franchise in 2002. Today, he is a thriving franchisor and also a coach who has counseled more than 100 clients on reinventing their lives through small-business ownership.
York’s advice to those considering entrepreneurship:
1. Where are you going? “Know whether you’re running away from something or running toward something. A lot of people go into business because they’ve been laid off or gotten stale in their job. The only way they see of getting out is to start a business. Ask yourself: If you had the choice of a fantastic job that paid really well and would give you a good lifestyle, or starting a business, which would you choose? If it’s the job, then that’s your answer. Starting a business of any kind is much harder than getting a job.”
2. What level of risk are you comfortable with? “Starting even a franchise is very risky. You also need to manage the expectations of every key stakeholder in the business—including your family members. It’s important to acknowledge what your family wants to do. If [starting a business] is one spouse’s idea and the other person is along for the ride, that’s not a ride you want to go on.”
3. What role models do you have for entrepreneurship? “Have you ever had a business, even as a [kid]? Have you ever done anything entrepreneurial? Do you have family members whose businesses you watched close up? If you don’t have any role models or heroes from the world of entrepreneurship, that should be a red flag.”