January 16, 2006
By: Gwenn Garland
Source: The Daily Times – Delmarva Business
Resolved to become your own boss in 2006? New business owners share their experiences.
So, you’ve resolved to start your own business – or maybe you just can’t stand working for someone else and want to be your own boss. It can be risky going into business for yourself, but those who have taken the plunge say it’s all worthwhile.
For Scott Brinsfield, a long commute and the unrewarding chore of working on holidays helped him decide to start a business.
As a retail manager for Acme grocery stores, Brinsfield had an hour’s worth of travel to his job and often worked holidays and Sundays. After a year of planning and research, he was ready in August 2004.
Now, as the owner of a FiltaFry franchise, “I may not have five weeks of vacation,” he said, “but I get every Sunday and holiday off.”
FiltaFry provides a mobile on-site service for the micro-filtration of cooking oil, the vacuum-based cleaning of deep fryers and full fryer management. Brinsfield travels a lot from job to job, but he can choose his jobs and set his own schedule.
“I’m staying home with my daughter this afternoon,” Brinsfield said. “If I were back in the retail world, I’d have to take a vacation day or something. Being able to do this is one of the rewards.”
Being your own boss is great, but it’s not easy to start a new business or take over a franchise.
For Brinsfield, his challenge was finding new customers for his service. “It takes a while to grow, especially because it’s a new concept – although you don’t have any competitors. By word of mouth and getting out there, you start to gain.”
Now, after starting out with one van, he’s thinking of adding another soon, and has a good supply of steady customers.
“There are ups and downs,” he said. “You have to expect that.”
Franchise or start-up?
Many people who dream of starting their own businesses imagine something completely original. But oftentimes for the novice business owner, this can be risky.
Franchises are often perceived as less risky, although a study by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s DuPree Center for Entrepreneurship and New Venture Development found that over 10 years, the failure rate was about the same for franchises and original businesses.
What does come along with a franchise is a support system that can help the first-time business owner.
“Franchises do own a kind of safety net,” Brinsfield said. “They can have a downside, because the fees can cut down on your income and limit some of the things you can do, but they offer a support service that a lot of people need.”
When Brinsfield started his business, FiltaFry sent someone from the company to help him for a month. “I did the service while they did the sales,” he said. That provided a starting point for him to branch out on his own and gain customers while earning income.
“There’s a reason people start a Subway instead of a Joe’s sub shop – it’s a proven concept, a big brother helping you out,” he said.
When is the time right?
Brinsfield was 37 when he bought the FiltaFry franchise, and newly married.
“As I reflected on my life at age 37, I had worked at Acme since I was 16. I thought ‘Is that what I want on my resume 15 years from now?’ There’s nothing wrong with putting 40years at a company, but I thought it was time for a change.”
Brinsfield says that not everyone is cut to own a business.
“You have to have the right temperament to handle the unpredictability,” he said.
But he found that his temperament is right for his new job. “Am I happy? Yes, I can’t complain. There are hills and valleys and bumps along the road, but it’s been good.”