Before I opened my first franchised restaurant, I visited other franchisees of the same company and watched their operations, talked with the owners and toured their facilities. Although I saw many things I vowed not to let happen in my business, in my discussions with the other owners, everything was always “great” financially. They may have complained about employees and their work ethics, the franchisor and their narrow minded ways or the customers that demanded, rather than asked, for an extra something, but when it came time to talking about the “books,” there was never any answers other than, “We’re doing great.”
Later, I watched many of them really struggle or go out of business and then because of their upset, might let loose verbally about their hard fought battle in their business. I’m not proposing that they should have shared confidential information but they could have shared their challenges. But while they had their doors open and in business, they were tight lipped. I did a lot of pondering about why this was and I decided a lot of it had to do with three things:
- EGO. When you are an entrepreneur, your business is not just your job, but also your life. You are the essence of the business and so anything that fails, can also make you feel like a failure. No one wants to feel this way.
- DENIAL. Entrepreneurs have to be positive, that is the only way you open a business in the first place. If you look at your business clearly and see imminent danger ahead, then you have to make contingency plans, worry about closure and a host of other anxiety-causing issues. It’s tough to go to work every day with a worry like that.
- FEAR. You learn quickly, early on, that employees and customers may gossip about your business and anything that looks bad, may get blown way out of proportion. That’s not good for your reputation or for your future so entrepreneurs learn to keep a lid on anything that might not look so good.
The only way to truly know if a business is successful is to look at the details. Are things well maintained and improvements made when needed? Are all the lights on and the facilities in spotless condition? These are all signs that money is there to spend on investing in the future. However, if a business were in trouble, there might be a way of sharing a bit of information with others to perhaps find creative ways to brainstorm and help solve the problem.