Tag Archives: starting a business

NPI/GPI Prepares to Celebrate 30 Years by Remembering First Franchisee

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Roland Bates, president and founder of National Property Inspections, Inc.

Roland Bates, president and founder of National Property Inspections, Inc.

It will soon be 30 years since I sold the first NPI franchise. I am pleased to say that franchisee, Clyde Yost, is still with us. The first franchise is certainly the hardest one to sell. You are selling your idea, and at that point, no one other than you has any reason to believe that your idea and business plan can be duplicated.

If you walk into the National Property Inspections, Inc., corporate office today, it is well-decorated, has nice furnishings, provides a professional training room, and has all the amenities we need to operate our business. We are successful, and our office shows that. Let’s turn back the clock 30 years:

Back in 1987, I had rented a small office and purchased a few furnishings. To describe the office as “Spartan frugality” would have been generous, indeed. When Clyde Yost first visited, I think I was sitting at a folding card table. For sure, I was sitting with a small electric typewriter and typing book because I was teaching myself how to type. That paid off because now I can type most three- and four-letter words without looking at the keyboard.

After Clyde and I visited about how I’d been doing inspections myself and thought the property inspection business was poised to take off, I told him I wanted to franchise it. I explained how the franchise would work, how I hoped to help him and others build an NPI business.

Clyde naturally asked, “How many franchisees do you currently have?” To which I replied, “You and two others will make three.” Clyde has a good sense of humor and thought that was sort of funny.

Clyde Yost, NPI's first franchisee, remains a franchise owner in Kansas City, Missouri.

Clyde Yost, NPI’s first franchisee, remains a franchise owner in Kansas City, Missouri.

Clyde believed in the NPI concept and became our first franchisee. Without sounding maudlin, Clyde had worked hard for his money, and I felt more than obligated to make this company successful for him, if not for myself. To this day, I try to keep all of our franchisees in mind, and I feel indebted to all of them. But I’ll admit that many of the business decisions I have made over the years I have made with Clyde and our very first meeting in mind.

Maybe there would have been an NPI without Clyde, but it certainly wouldn’t be the same. Clyde, my friend, thank you for believing in me and for everything you have done for NPI.

We have franchises available in your area. To learn more about an NPI or GPI franchise opportunity, click one of the links below:

5 Small-business Marketing Tips From a ‘Shark’

HerjavecIf you watch ABC’s “Shark Tank,” then you are likely familiar with Robert Herjavec. Born in eastern Europe, Herjavec and his family immigrated to Canada when he was a boy to escape communism in the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia). The son of a factory worker, Herjavec emerged from humble beginnings to build and sell several companies in the IT industry. Today, his company, Herjavec Group, is recognized as a global leader in information security services.

Like many small-business owners, Herjavec started with very little — and he didn’t have a business degree. But his is a success story that proves that determination, hard work and commitment pay off in the end. Now, besides running Herjavec Group, he helps small-business entrepreneurs and start-ups take their businesses to the next level on “Shark Tank.”

It’s no wonder, then, that entrepreneurs and small-business owners are interested in what they can learn from Herjavec. Recently, Entrepreneur sat down with him and asked for his top five small-business marketing tips:

  1. Target your customers on social media.
  2. Make selling online a key part of your business model.
  3. Make your website and marketing materials visually appealing.
  4. Market to your customers in ways they are receptive to.
  5. As your business grows, hire marketing assistance.

Click here to read the full article on Entrepreneur.com.

Why Every Business Owner Needs a Mentor

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Mentoring_shutterstock_189356114Several years ago, I read a white paper that said that about 70 percent of the decisions a business owner makes ultimately prove to be wrong. (That 70 percent is the number in the report; that is not a typo.) That’s a lot of zigzagging to get from Point A to Point B.

Imagine how much more successful business owners could be and how much faster they could grow their businesses if they reduced their errors to just 35 percent. Suffice it to say, reducing mistakes or eliminating some of the trial and error can make a huge difference.

For this reason, all new business owners should seek out at least one mentor. A mentor does not have the emotional attachment to the business that a new business owner likely has; thus, he or she can look at your business objectively. A mentor also has experience and can advise you away from making certain mistakes. A mentor who is truly interested in helping you will go out of their way to do so. Sometimes the introductions a mentor can make for you so you can expand your network are more than enough reason to seek them out.

Our role at National Property Inspections, Inc., is that of a mentor to our franchise owners, although we also encourage our franchisees to seek out one or more mentors where they live. As a franchisor, we have a proven business model, and we can help advise franchise owners on what works and what doesn’t so they can avoid so much trial and error as they start their businesses.

With that said, and as an aside, wouldn’t it be great if teenagers would listen to Mom and Dad’s advice and mentoring? Oh, well, we can dream, can’t we?

Roland PhotoRoland Bates’ high energy, willingness to work hard and optimistic outlook are the cornerstones of success for NPI and GPI. His easy manner and family attitude inspire a friendly and close atmosphere at the company. Before he founded NPI/GPI in 1987, Roland owned a general contracting company, where he worked for eight years as a general contractor. Prior to that, he spent five years as a property claims supervisor and regional claims manager.

To learn more about an NPI or GPI franchise opportunity in your area, click one of the links below:

Want to Be a Successful Business Owner? Don’t Make These Mistakes

7K0A0014-2While the idea of owning a business is a dream for many people, there are times when entrepreneurs fail to think things through. Funding the business, having an in-demand product or service to sell, and hiring employees are some of the common challenges that entrepreneurs face:

  • Hiring employees too quickly can financially drain your business. If you pay people to do nothing, and no sales are generated from their work, then employing a staff is a financial loss.
  • Borrowing money from lenders can be of great service to you, but don’t make the mistake of borrowing more than you really need. You will likely spend that money and have to pay interest back on money you didn’t really need to borrow.
  • Assuming your business will make money in the early years is one of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make. If your business shows a profit early on, that’s great — but don’t assume it will, and be prepared for all of the expenses.
  • Marketing your business is necessary and takes time. You must market to both win and retain customers who may not know anything about you or your business.
  • Leasing Space You Don’t Need. If you don’t really need a retail or office space, then don’t rent it. You can save money working from home — and receive a few tax incentives for doing so.

Many successful entrepreneurs did not succeed at first and experienced their fair share of trial and error to find out what works for them. Check out these business leaders who failed before they succeeded:

  • Akio Morita is the founder of Sony products. The first product was a rice burner that burned the rice. But Morita kept pushing forward with new ideas.
  • Bill Gates started a company called Traf-O-Data that failed, and he dropped out of Harvard. Gates didn’t give up, though, as he is the billionaire behind Microsoft.
  • Colonel Sanders was 65 years old when he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. Did you know his famous secret recipe was rejected more than 1,000 times before a restaurant agreed to use it?
  • Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed and left him broke. He refused to give up, though, and founded Ford Motor Company with assembly line production. The result: He was once known as one of the three richest men in the world.
  • Walt Disney was fired by an editor for lack of imagination and having no original ideas. His first animation company went bankrupt, and he was turned down hundreds of times for loans to build Disney World. Today, the Disney Company averages $30 billion in revenue annually.

Many people have failed at first only to ultimately succeed. Learn from them and gain inspiration from them on your journey as an entrepreneur.

If you are ready to make your dream of owning a business come true, National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada have franchise opportunities available in your area. Contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for information about our property inspection franchise opportunities.

What Makes a Good Entrepreneur?

IMG_0801Many people dream of becoming prosperous business owners; however, achieving that goal is challenging and requires hard work. Some people never take the initiative to try to make it happen — possibly due to fear and/or lack of ambition. Granted, some people seem to be born with the talent for becoming successful business owners. Others may attempt entrepreneurship without really understanding what makes good business sense.

So, how can you determine whether you have what it takes to become a successful business owner? The following are some characteristics that will go a long way to improving your chance of success.

  • Stay Flexible: As a business owner, you can’t always predict what a customer will want or how your day will go. Staying flexible will help you keep calm in situations where a customer or employee has special needs and requests.
  • Build Relationships. Try to get to know each and every customer, especially as you are building your business. This may become challenging if you grow into a successful business and have a significant number of customers, but you should still try to connect with every one of them. Your early customers are critical to your growth; they will refer friends and family members to you, often saying, “Hey, go down to such-and-such place and tell them I sent you.”
  • Don’t Be Narcissistic. If you want to build a business, you will find that simply being likable is a great asset. Don’t treat people as if they are beneath you. Don’t make everything about you — consider your customers and employees, too.
  • Learn to Market Yourself. Personal relationships and word of mouth are effective ways to build your business. You also need to market your business by other means such as Internet directories, your website, local newspapers and publications, and getting out in the community. This will enable you to contact new customers in a wider area and at a faster rate than simply relying on your existing customer base to send you new business.
  • Build a Business You Like. Yes, it is helpful to like what you do, but the bigger question is can you sell what you like? Will consumers want or need to buy what you are offering? As a potential entrepreneur, make sure your business is one that is in demand and that consumers will seek out.

Should I Start My Own Business or Buy a Franchise?

Couple + Inspection Report_shutterstock_186413990You have reached a point in your life that brings you to making a decision about your career. You know what kind of work you want to do, and you know you want your own business. Now you are down to the final decision of choosing to start a business or buy a franchise. What should you consider before making that choice?

  • Ownership: Whichever way you choose to start your business, you will still be the owner of the business.
  • Time: Neither owning your business independently nor owning a franchise will have a factor on the time you spend running your business. More than likely, much of your time will be spent on the business, especially during the early years.
  • Ambition: Make sure you have the ambition to start a business. Starting and running a business is a lot of hard work, and you will face obstacles and challenges.
  • Financing: Of course, you will have to provide a certain amount of funding to get either business started. Click here to read our post about how to fund your small business.
  • Knowledge: You will need some type of knowledge or experience related to the business you are starting. If you choose to purchase a franchise, your franchisor may provide the training you need.

Now that you have considered the fundamentals that you need to get started, it’s time to narrow your decision-making — possibly by considering the pros and cons of starting your own business versus buying a franchise. Consider the following:

Marketing: If you start an independent business, you will have to begin marketing your product or services by either attempting it yourself or hiring someone to do it for you. If you purchase a franchise, the franchisor will already have an effective, ongoing marketing plan that has been tested and proven.

Methods: Starting your own business independently will take a lot of time, money and effort to find the methods and models that work. A franchise already has proven methods and models in place, as well as an established brand. This in itself proves that there is a demand for this particular product or service.

Area: If starting your business independently, you don’t really have a set area to sell or market to — you will have to try diligently to capitalize on certain areas to become established. This can be difficult and expensive, as there is competition and you may spend a lot of time that results in low sales as you try to get established. A franchise will provide you with a specific territory to work and provides you startup power as you work to gain recognition in that area.

Ownership: One benefit specific to franchises is that people tend to work harder and be more accountable if they are part of a larger company.

Guidelines: If you become part of a franchise, you will have rules to follow without exception. While you won’t have these rules if you start your business independently, many of the rules are based on best practices and are in place to help franchisees succeed.

Royalty Fees: As part of a franchise, you will pay a royalty fee based on your sales. When comparing franchisors, be sure to compare royalty fees. Some franchises charge a straight royalty, while others have multiple royalties — such as a royalty on your sales and an advertising royalty.

Association. As part of a franchise, you are associated with that company, so bad products or services can affect the whole.

If you are ready to make your dream of owning a business come true, National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada have franchise opportunities available in your area. Contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for information about our property inspection franchise opportunities.

What You Need to Know Before Signing a Franchise Agreement

IMG_1300When you decide to become an entrepreneur, making the investment in your financial future can be a big decision. Your thought process should be thorough and precise before you make the final choice about how you will invest your money and time. Some people may choose to start their own businesses and create their own business models through trial and error. They feel ambitious and confident enough to do it all on their own.

Other business-savvy individuals choose to take what they feel is a safer, more secure approach to starting a business. They believe that a franchise is the best decision for them, as the business model is already in place and proven, and the company already has brand recognition.

Once you have decided to become a part of a franchise system, you should be aware of some things and make some considerations:

  • Understand the franchise agreement. The franchise agreement is the legally binding contract between you and the franchisor. Read this document carefully and make sure you understand every statement in it. The franchise agreement specifies the obligations, responsibilities and rights of both you and the franchisor, and it outlines actions that you and franchisor are prohibited from engaging in. Both you and the franchisor must sign the franchise agreement. If there is anything in the franchise agreement that you do not understand or do not totally agree with, then you shouldn’t just sign on the dotted line thinking it will work itself out in the future. It probably won’t.
  • Respect the franchisor’s supervision. Although you may not have an onsite supervisor for your franchise, being a part of a franchise means you must abide by the franchisor’s rules and protocols. If you don’t like taking direction from someone else, then you may want to reconsider becoming part of a franchise. A reputable franchise has proven methods and models for success, and the franchisor will stand by those — after all, they have succeeded based on the processes that work.
  • Obtain legal advice. It may wise to hire a franchise attorney for your own protection. An attorney can explain the entire agreement to you and possibly renegotiate terms that you may be concerned about or want to amend before you sign and are legally bound to the franchisor.
  • Investigate the opportunity thoroughly. Learn how much money you will need and the support and training that is available for you once you purchase the franchise. Make sure you like what the franchisor offers, and research the franchisor’s reputation. Ask lots of questions:
    • Will you have an exclusive area to provide your services?
    • Will you have minimum sales numbers to meet?
    • Can you get out of the agreement, and what would that entail?

Investing in a franchise can be the best business decision for you to get your business running. Just be sure to take the necessary steps so you know the legalities you could potentially encounter, the franchisor’s expectations and reputation, and the market for the franchise. Finding answers to your questions or concerns ahead of time can save you time and energy. Besides, a legitimate, reputable franchisor would not want you to enter into an agreement with them with doubts. Your success and confidence is a reflection on them.

What You Need to Know SBA Loans

Pocket Watch And Five Dollar Bills

Pocket Watch And Five Dollar Bills

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is designed to fund loans that small businesses loans may need for a variety of different reasons. However, the SBA does not actually provide the money; rather the organization provides the guarantee that the debt will be repaid to their partners.

The SBA website offers overviews of loans that entrepreneurs may use to start their businesses. The most common loan is the 7(a) loan. Here is some information regarding this loan:

  • Eligibility: Operate a for-profit, small business (by the SBA’s terms of small). The business must reside in the United States or its territories. Applicants must demonstrate need for the loan and must have used other resources first. Applicants may not have delinquent U.S. government debt.
  • Use of proceeds: Loan recipients must use the funds to establish a new business, purchase equipment, pay operational expenses, refinance existing debt, etc.
  • Repayment terms: Based on the recipient’s ability to pay and other determining factors, repayment could range from seven to 25 years.
  • Fees and interest: Maturity fee and fixed or variable interest rates will be negotiated.
  • Loan application checklist:
    • Loan application
    • Personal background and financial statement
    • Business financial statement
    • Profit and loss statement
    • Projected financial statement
    • Ownership and affiliations
    • Business certificate/license
    • Loan application history
    • Income tax returns
    • Resumes, business overview and history
      Business lease
    • Existing business information if purchasing an existing business
  • Processing time: 36 hours.
  • Types of 7(a) loans: Several types are offered.

Visit the SBA website to review the complete information regarding available loans, specific guidelines and requirements available for your business needs.

With all of the information provided by the SBA, entrepreneurs have an enormous opportunity to get their start-up loans funded and to repay them with fair and reasonable terms. Visit the SBA’s website, make inquiries about what you want to know, gather your documentation, apply for the loan and begin your success story.

Starting Your Own Business: Strategies for Success

IMG_1109Age is mostly irrelevant in becoming a determining factor for succeeding as an entrepreneur. There have been young entrepreneurs as well as older, established entrepreneurs. Some have built success on seemingly impossible ideas and others seem to possess a certain amount of luck. For the most part, a successful entrepreneur will have to fearlessly work hard, cultivate positive relationships and develop great business skills.

A recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine noted five things you should do when you are ready to become an entrepreneur:

  • Go all in. Once you’ve made your decision to start a business, don’t doubt yourself, and no looking back.
  • Find a mentor. Enjoy your success with an experienced entrepreneur who has agreed to mentor you.
  • Create daily routines. Set goals for what has to be accomplished each day, and make sure you abide by your own rules.
  • Eliminate negative people. People who wallow in self-pity and are unemployed may not be the ideal people to associate with. They may not really want to help you or see you succeed.
  • Network as much as possible. Try to meet new people and tell each of them what you do.

Focus on Your Customers
It is helpful to pursue things that you enjoy doing and master what you do. No matter what carefully placed business strategy you launch, the bottom line is you must win customers to whom you sell your product or services. Without customers, you have no business, no employees, no self-employment income or success.

Make each customer feel important, try to get to know a little about them, follow up with them and make sure they are happy with your service. Your customers are actually the employer — they are how you succeed and how you get paid. Make sure you deliver what you promise, when you promise it. Be honest and reputable, and provide quality for what they purchase. Be persistent and patient as your customers will grow and return over time.

Ready to become an entrepreneur? Take the next step and inquire about a franchise opportunity with National Property Inspections or Global Property Inspections. We’ve already developed the business, sales and marketing models for you. For further information, contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24.