August is Black Business Month, which is a great time to gather advice from some very successful Black business owners who are dominating the franchise industry in a variety of businesses.
BLACK ENTERPRISE connected with four entrepreneurs who have made their mark in franchising: Shannon Sevor, owner of GYMGUYZ in Silicon Valley; Ame and April Kennedy, owners of Pet Supplies Plus in La Grange, IL; Stephanie Moseley, multi-unit owner of Marco’s Pizza in Virginia; and Antoine Cheek, owner of Chem-Dry in Philadelphia.
BE took a moment to get all up in their business:
BLACK ENTERPRISE: What is the #1 piece of advice you have for Black entrepreneurs looking to start a business?
Shannon Sevor: Develop mental toughness. This means to cultivate a winner’s mindset. We are what we think about repeatedly. Dedicating significant time to mastering one’s mind is vital. The most practical way of doing this is to read, listen, and learn about the power of positive thinking. Mental toughness for Black entrepreneurs positions us on solid ground. Enabling us to remain confident during the good and character-building times. Through faith we can conquer all things.
Ame and April Kennedy: To not be afraid to try something different and out of your comfort zone. Realize you may not know all of the correct answers…. yet. Research your target market and know who your customers will be. This will allow you to tailor an experience for them and not only just sell them products. Be bold.
Stephanie Moseley: Ensure you have the financial health and the personal fortitude to stay the course until you achieve your dream. There will be many adversities and difficulties, sometimes gunning for you at the same time, but you must remain strong and steadfast while keeping your focus on the goal.
Antoine Cheek: Be prepared for the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. Make sure you have a sound business plan and personal credit and business credit. In my opinion, this is a must.
Why is franchising a great opportunity for Black entrepreneurs?
Sevor: Franchising provides a playbook for success. Franchises consist of proven methodologies and techniques to grow a particular business. Franchising gives you the ability to take a refined idea and make it better without having to “reinvent the wheel.” There’s always room for improvement, and franchising helps entrepreneurs execute at a high level with support. For the Black entrepreneur, franchising is particularly important because it provides us with the opportunity to scale a business much faster and more efficiently. To whom much is given, much is expected.
Kennedys: Make sure you find the right franchise to work with. We chose Pet Supplies Plus over a couple of other smaller pet franchises because of the name recognition the brand has built into it and the support structure they have on the corporate side. This is an important key to success for the new franchisee. It somewhat takes the “brand building” out of the picture and allows you to focus on adding your personalized touch to the brand. This is the way you can set yourself apart from others. I love it when we get compliments on our service and personal touches. I also appreciate the foundation that has been laid down.
Moseley: Unlike starting a business with your own concept, franchising already has a sound, well-tested formula for success in place for you to follow. This helps to prevent you from serious pitfalls that could potentially wipe you out financially before you get off the ground. Franchising also offers tremendous support in site selection, financing, and ongoing training that you don’t necessarily receive as a sole proprietor. Finally, it is easier to obtain funding, standing behind a solid brand like Marco’s Pizza. Banks are risk averse, therefore, they are more likely to approve a loan to open a proven brand vs an unknown entity.
Cheek: You are joining a brand with a proven business model. In franchising, you’re given a blueprint to successful results. Every business has its ups and downs, but franchising provides you with the additional support of a corporate team and other franchisees who have gone through similar situations.