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’sNextGen 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.
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.
Are you between the ages of 18-35 with a great idea for a business but not sure how to get it off the ground? Do you know someone who is?
This week the International Franchise Association (IFA) Education Fund launched a new program called NextGen – A New Generation in Franchising. As someone who became an entrepreneur at an early age and used the franchise model to expand my business, there was no doubt that I would help sponsor this new program. I know there is no shortage of great ideas among young entrepreneurs, just a shortage of resources to pursue and develop those ideas.
This program will introduce young entrepreneurs and students to the world of franchising and share the franchise business model as they’ve never seen it before.
Fifty prizes will be awarded for the best, most innovative business and marketing concepts for new franchise businesses or existing franchise brands.
Prizes include a travel voucher and complimentary registration for the IFA Annual Convention, which will be held February 15-18, 2015 in Las Vegas, and an opportunity to participate in the first NextGen in Franchising Summit, a two-day educational and networking program at the convention.
At the summit, contest winners will have a chance to engage directly with leading franchisor, franchisee and supplier members of the IFA as well as other young entrepreneurs, students and participants in the NextGen in Franchising Summit.
Additional cash prizes and scholarships will be awarded from the pool of 50 contest winners.
For more information and to enter the competition, visit nextgenfranchising.org. Here’s your chance to prove that when it comes to building a successful business, you can do it, too!