How to Run Your Business Like a Franchise

Building a successful business means creating a company that runs itself, so that you can focus on growing your venture – rather than being a slave to its operations. This is the powerful premise of the franchise model.

The franchise model is designed for growth. You build it once, perfect it, and then roll it out multiple times. Because of proven systems and processes, other people can buy your concept and follow it.

“A true business opportunity is the one that an entrepreneur invents to grow him or herself. Not to work in, but to work on.” 
– Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It.

What it’s really like to run a business

Being a business owner is often romanticised. Entrepreneurs are seen as people following their passions; facing down the odds and building their dream businesses.

In reality, many small business owners aren’t actually entrepreneurs. They’re stuck doing all the day-to-day operations in their businesses. Without them, there is no business. On the other hand, entrepreneurs are visionaries who build businesses that run operationally without them, freeing them up to focus on strategic direction and growth.

The myth of the entrepreneur

It’s known as the E-Myth, or the myth of the entrepreneur, and it happens like this:

Before starting your business, you probably worked for someone else doing technical work that you were good at, like bookkeeping, plumbing, or providing marketing advice.

Then suddenly you felt unappreciated or overworked, and you were overcome by ‘entrepreneurial seizure’, a term popularised in the book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It by Michael Gerber. Basically, you decided you’d be better off on your own.

This is how most people become small business owners. Unfortunately, it’s also why they stay small business owners, unable to build large businesses that work for them.

And here’s the problem. As Gerber says, “If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”

Stepping away to work on your business

Let’s unpack the core of the problem. Someone with technical expertise understands their industry and job. Unfortunately, this doesn’t equip you to actually run a business. That’s a whole different set of skills.

In fact, unless you can step away from the technical side of things, you will always have a business that relies heavily on you.

So, what can you do about it? We can start with entrepreneurial legend Gerber, who has helped to transform more than 70 000 businesses around the world over a 25-year career.

His best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited, has sold more than five million copies, so he probably knows what he’s talking about.

The e-myth and your business

It’s a familiar scenario: Despite your technical expertise and industry connections, the business you’ve started is struggling. You’ve got a superior product or a sought-after service – and yet you’re still in danger of losing your life savings.

Following Gerber’s advice, as a business owner, you have to be three people in one:

  • The Entrepreneur is the creative personality, visionary, catalyst, innovator, strategist, and has the creative vision to penetrate new markets (Think Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Richard Branson)
  • The Manager is the pragmatic personality who is practical, plans, orders, and sees problems and resolves them
  • The Technician is the doer who wants to do things one at a time, who doesn’t like to be rushed, who believes that thinking limits action, and that fellow employees are a hindrance.

If you’re thinking that these three personalities are way too different and can’t be contained in one person, you’re right. And that’s where the magic of entrepreneurship lies.

If you can internalise all three within you and resolve the conflict of them pulling you in different directions, Gerber says that you’ll be an entrepreneur who builds an enterprise, instead of a technician who just builds a job.

The solution: follow the franchise approach

Franchise models are so successful because:

  • The franchise prototype focuses on making the business model work, not on the product being sold
  • It tests all business systems
  • It ensures customer expectations are met
  • It becomes a turnkey operation – start to finish everyone knows exactly what they are doing, and the business is ready to go.

Here is the essence of Gerber’s franchise prototype: don’t just start a business in order to have a job; rather, build your business as if you intend to franchise it (even if you don’t). 

This system- and process-based approach empowers you to work smarter as you create a business legacy that can be sold when you’re ready to cash out.

Your next steps

So, how can you turn this philosophy into a real-world business model that rises above the day-to-day difficulties of running your business to achieve lasting success?

  1. Understand your vision and mission, communicate these clearly, and make sure all activities are aligned with them.
  2. Have a business plan and document strategies, tactics, solutions and results.
  3. Set up reliable and repeatable processes for virtually everything. These processes become the system that will drive your continued success.
  4. Monitor, measure, analyse, and adjust. Constantly!
  5. Delegate and outsource to other professionals so you don’t get bogged down working IN your business when you should be working ON your business.


How to Run Your Business Like a Franchise