It’s exciting, isn’t it? Starting your own business, thinking about the future and what you plan to achieve. But how different is it to start a social franchise? Is more expected from you than you imagined? Should you feel stressed? The quick answer is NO. Check out the reasons why you should start your own business here.

Starting a business is tough, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Taking the first step is a huge accomplishment and the fact that you’re reading this article means that you should give yourself a pat on the back, you’re on the right track. You might have heard about franchising before, but what is the difference between social and commercial franchising?

Commercial Franchising vs. Social Franchising 

A franchise is a business model that has been created with the aim of being easily replicated around the globe, allowing for fast growth. By having a franchise, the parent company does not have to worry about the daily operations of the franchisee. On the other hand, the benefit of being a franchisee is risk avoidance, since there is a proven model that works and existing success stories. Another benefit is the ongoing support that the franchisor provides the franchisee, as both want to achieve a win-win situation. 

But what is a social franchise? A social franchise is “a method of expansion for social enterprises”. In other words, they are mostly focused on the social impact it can have on the local community. In comparison, a regular franchise is more centered on monetary returns. A social franchise can lead to a faster impact since the model can be replicated with ease and can reach more people around the world. 

There are many ways to start your own business. However, if you are considering looking to pursue social franchising, here are a few steps that might help you understand if this is for you.

Step-by-Step Guide to Create Your Social Franchise

Find Your Passion

This step is one of the most important ones. If you are not passionate about what you are working towards, which is the impact of your venture, then the chances of you doing well are quite slim in changing environments. According to a report by Deloitte “passionate workers are the ones who can help companies build resilience and navigate the world of constant disruption”.

Of course, there are several issues in our current society. Normally, social entrepreneurs tackle a social or environmental problem that is close to their heart, so what is that something that speaks most to you? It is easy to feel lost, as the world seems to have more and more problems coming up every day but you must focus on what fulfills you most. When starting your own social franchise, you will encounter people who live and breathe their social mission, and if you feel like you do not relate, then maybe this is not the best area for you.

Get Into The Mindset 

What does that mean? A common misconception of a franchise is that there is a high chance of it succeeding. Despite the fact that easy replication is a good indicator, it does not guarantee success. A Forbes article states that “nearly 17% of franchise loans made through the SBA from 1991 to 2010 ended in failure, according to a new report released by the Service Employees International Union”. If no effort is put into its continuance, then the results are not going to be visible. Just like anything in life, we have to work if we want something to work out.

You should expect slow days and be patient when this happens. Slow days could mean days when no one will answer your emails or even your calls. Days when you question if what you are doing is worth it. But with the correct mindset, you will view this as a learning opportunity. If one way of communicating such as emails does not attract volunteers, then maybe creating an event or handing out flyers will bring more attention. If plan A doesn’t work, there are always 25 more letters in the alphabet. This underwhelming feeling of slow days should be expected, but it should never be translated into demotivation. Instead, try and focus on the positive aspects, mainly on the impact you will have in your community and the number of people you are reaching with your solution.  

Find Like-Minded People

When starting a social franchise you will eventually need to expand your own team. Think of it as finding the best lab partner. Someone you can count on, someone who can share his/her notes when you miss a lab. These types of people are what take your social franchise from one level to the next. You should look for people who are motivated, who have similar passions to yours, people who are not afraid of giving their feedback. Feedback is important since it shows how engaged they are to make the social enterprise successful.

The big question is, where do you find them? There isn’t a simple recipe for finding people, or then I would’ve been rich by now, but a great first step is asking the right questions when recruiting. Asking them what they want to learn, what they expect from the position, and what they are willing to do to improve. Those say a lot about a person’s motivation and work ethic. 

Adapt to the Local Community 

Easier said than done, I’m sure that’s what you might be thinking.  If you look at Netflix, the firm has been able to adapt their products to the local community’s taste and preferences, this is known as glocalization strategy. For example, you are able to access different movies and translations to local languages and cultural contexts depending on your location. By following this strategy, the franchisee will be able to better cater to the local community and expand their network at a fast pace since the community feels “heard”. However, you must be realistic. Being highly locally responsive is not an easy task, but does not mean you have to think small. It means that you have to understand that there are certain things that can only be achieved after having fallen sometimes or after having some experience of the current market.

Think about taking small steps. Upon several small steps and quick wins you might notice an upward trend of impact. By having talked to five people about your social franchisee, you’ll see that that can quickly multiply. 

Build a Community of People Who Support You

By building a supportive community, people will have a passion for your social mission. Try to get them on board, give them responsibility and get them to help you grow.  An inclusive workplace will also lead to an increase in employee motivation. An article by Han Lin states that “ inclusive leadership negatively influences employees’ procrastination behavior through employees’ intrinsic motivation.”

Ways you can create an inclusive environment is by listening to your employees’ feedback. Allow them to take part in projects that interest them. Show them the impact they have been having, and customer feedback they have been receiving. You should also include them in certain events so that they can get to network and meet the community they are working with. Moreover, allowing employees to be part of the mission, can result in employee retention and they get recognition for their valuable contributions.

When in Doubt, Communicate 

Whenever you are lost, or need some support, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The franchisor has experience and has passed through some hardships to reach where it did, therefore in order for both to be able to succeed, it is vital to work as a collective. Communication is crucial as a social franchise since many are affected by the quality of the service and user experience. If the franchisee does not know how to handle a situation it can result in a negative experience, which can influence brand’s image and loyalty – impacting both the franchisee and the franchisor. 

Do you feel ready to start your own social franchising business? You can now Take SPEAK to Your City

Take SPEAK to Your City

At SPEAK we bring together newcomers and locals living in the same city through community-led language groups and cultural exchange events. If you are passionate about diversity and are committed to making your city more inclusive, you can start your own SPEAK chapter. With these 6 steps, you’ll be able to begin in no time!

Step 1 – Commitment Check  + MOOC Course

Our application process begins with a commitment check, managing a SPEAK chapter takes at least 20 hours per week. While you can do it alone, this work is challenging and that’s why building a team is important, so we highly recommend that you put together a team of 2-4 people. The MOOC Course is in Partnership with Católica Lisbon and the main goal of this course is to show how the social franchising model can be a solution to scale social impact in a faster way.

Step 2 – Application Form

We encourage you to fill in the application form with your team, in doing so we will get to know a bit about you and your team. 

Step 3 – First Interview

Our fourth step is the first interview, which is in video form. Here we will learn about you and your team and your ambitions. We will also answer any questions you might have. 

Step 4 – Organize a Language Exchange 

The SPEAK founder should organize a language exchange, this is significant as it allows for the local community to get involved to to get a taste of what SPEAK is all about. 

Step 5 – Second Interview

During this final interview, we will talk about your expectations on becoming a SPEAK founder, go over the roadmap for your SPEAK chapter as well as the language exchange event you created. We will also answer any questions you may have. After this final step, we will let you know the results of your application.

Step 6 – Onboarding

This will take a total of 6 weeks. We will help guide you through all the possible challenges you might face, and help you throughout your journey of building your SPEAK Chapter.

This is the beginning of your journey towards impact and we are here to support you every step of the way! Start your own social franchising now, and don’t be afraid, you’re not doing this alone!

Author: Ishika Shantilal

Ishika is a marketing intern at SPEAK, she is Portuguese and is a student at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. She loves to play the piano and listen to music.

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