I recently participated in an event that was not only inspiring but also left me excited about the future of business, in general, and specifically franchising.
As a founding sponsor of the International Franchise Association’s NextGen program, I was invited to join several of my colleagues on a panel in which I was able to share my experiences in building Edible Arrangements with a group of about 40 young entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs were winners of the IFA’s Young Entrepreneurs in Franchising Competition and were selected from more than 450 applicants across 44 countries who submitted ideas for franchiseable businesses.
I was encouraged to find that many of the ideas reflected social responsibility within the business opportunity, such as alternative energy refill stations from South Africa and fresh drinking water systems from Uganda. This new generation truly understands the importance of being a contributing member of their community.
What excited me most, however, was the vision these young men and women have for the future of franchising.
In the US alone, franchising is responsible for as many as 17 million domestic jobs and putting over 760,000 entrepreneurs into businesses as franchisees, according to the most recent data.
While those numbers are impressive and reflect the critical role that franchising plays in the economy, I’ve always felt that we are just scratching the surface when it comes to realizing the true potential of this amazing business model.
Advances in technology have given us opportunities not available even a few years ago to build dynamic franchise systems that go well beyond a chain of shops offering the same products or services.
We have the opportunity to create our own ecosystems in which we can control almost every part of the process — from production of the resources needed to create a product all the way to how the product or service is purchased — thus guaranteeing a universal experience.
What I discovered in visiting with these young men and women is that they “Get It!” They are a generation raised in a global economy and in a time in which companies such as Apple and a few others are redefining the way businesses serve their many markets. Their ideas for how to launch and grow their businesses reflected this more global way of thinking.
As a result, I truly believe they understand that franchising can be much more than it is today.
I am excited to see where this new generation takes us. Wherever it is, I am confident it will bring the type of new thinking and innovation needed to inspire all of us in franchising to rethink the way we do business and bring us closer to reaching our full potential.