Image courtesy of Gary Prenevost
Canadian Small Business Month
It’s not the size of the business that matters; it’s how the business performs and contributes to the economic development of the region. So, in order to pay homage to these small-but-mighty establishments, Canada has declared October “Small Business Month.”
Among the thousands celebrating entrepreneurism during the month-long event is Gary Prenevost, a FranNet
franchising consultant in Canada. For more than 24 years he has worked with would-be entrepreneurs, helping them recognize franchising opportunities that match their skills, interests, and financial and lifestyle goals.
“The small enterprise is a major part of the country,” Prenevost
said. “Franchising is great for job creation, and it’s an avenue for many people who have been downsized from corporate Canada.”
According to Prenevost, more and more people want to start their own business. “The corporate landscape is changing and company loyalty is a thing of the past, so this is driving more and more people to consider self-employment,” he said.
In fact, 680 News in Toronto announced in September the results of a new survey stating 80 percent of Canadians would rather work for themselves. For residents in Canada, the celebration of “October Small Business Month” is a way to raise awareness of how important these job creators are to the economy.
“Doing more to support small businesses in Canada is even a major plank in the current Federal election,” Prenevost said.
“Franchising is a stronger, more proven and safer way to go into business,” he added. “Provided that franchisees choose a business that leverages their skills, interests and capabilities… Just because a franchise is a good business, it doesn’t mean it will be good for everyone.”
Love what you do
Like many people, Prenevost’s journey to career success took many twists and turns. While in his 20s, one of his jobs was as a First Responder (paramedic). The experience was much more than the future entrepreneur could have expected.
“People died in my hands,” Prenevost said. “I learned a lot about life through the experience. I learned to love—not like, but love—the core elements of what you do for a career.”
Knowing that his future wasn’t as a paramedic, he eventually moved on to a career in banking where he served as a turnaround specialist working with retail brands.
Before joining FranNet in 2002, he was co-owner of Canadian Training and Development Group, a training franchise-like model with 110 offices across Canada. Prenevost also owned one of those offices, where he focused on sales, leadership and management training. Their clients were mostly small and mid-sized companies, but they also worked with larger brands such as Hitachi and Siemens. In addition to providing strategic planning and business coaching to hundreds of business owners, Prenevost also trained more than 1000 salespeople at all levels of sales expertise.
Now, as one of FranNet’s top performing franchisees, Prenevost and his business partner have successfully matched more than 500 people with franchises in Canada. He said he thoroughly enjoys helping people through business selection and research because without assistance, many would-be franchisees focus on the wrong elements of starting a business.
“People need to figure out what they love to do, then do it. Often times they incorrectly focus on how well a business is doing,” he said. “Instead, they should figure out what strengths they bring to the table—what experience they have that can drive a successful business.”
His four levels of “good” franchising
1) Know the franchisor’s financial strength to grow business
Franchisors should have a big enough war chest to be able to scale up the business. You should know how they plan to optimize systems and what their process is to grow the brand.
People at the corporate level of the franchise must have intimate knowledge of the business they’re running. They need to understand the industry. Make sure the franchise you go with has people at the senior level with the proper knowledge and experience. Also, they should have someone on their executive team who has experience in growing franchise systems and supporting franchisees.
Be on the right side of trends. And remember, there is a difference between fads and trends. Fads are a flash-in-the-pan concept. You should strive to make sure it’s a sustainable trend—and if you’re not sure, that’s where Prenevost comes in. It’s his job to know what’s emerging, what industries have reasonable staying power, and what’s not working.
4) Existing franchisee validation
The most important step is to reach out to other franchisees to gather as much information as you can. Prenevost recommends talking to at least eight to 10 existing franchisees. This enables you to discover how well the concepts in consideration are meeting and exceeding expectations of existing franchisees.