Any small business needs imaginative and hardworking leaders to succeed, particularly in a challenging economy. These characteristics are a natural fit for millennials, many of whom are sidestepping traditional career paths in favour of entrepreneurship and franchising.
“We’re seeing an increase in the number of millennials, also known as Generation Y, joining the franchising family,” says Richard Mukheibir, Managing Director of Cash Converters Southern Africa. “A 2006 survey by the Franchise Business Review already showed a similar trend, with more and more millennials opening franchises. We’re seeing that many of them are natural entrepreneurs and they’re bringing with them a very refreshing approach.”
Franchising is a good option for people who are looking to break away from the corporate world, to be their own boss, but like the option of buying into an existing infrastructure.
Greg Da Costa, the 41-year-old co-owner of a Cash Converters franchise in Stellenbosch, says he has always been in retail and has experience running independent brands. “Running independently means you’re basically on your own, whereas with a franchise you’re part of a brand, you buy in to tried-and-tested methods and you have support,” he explains.
His sentiments are echoed by another millennial Cash Converters owner, Leonel De Gouveia, who owns a Kuils River Cash Converters. “I also had an independent business before turning to franchising, but I soon realised that it’s hard on your own and you don’t have a support structure or colleagues who you can draw experiences from,” says De Gouveia.
When asked if their age has impacted their journey, both Da Costa and De Gouveia say they haven’t experienced anything negative, in fact they both feel that age has nothing to do with their success – its determination and drive that make the difference. However, they do recognise the value in having more experienced franchisees to turn to for advice, as well as being a part of an international brand. Like many people of their generation, they acknowledge that there is a lot to learn and they’re prepared to implement franchise systems.
“I believe in learning from other people’s mistakes and successes and therefore speak to senior franchisees for advice and guidance,” says De Gouveia. “You do research by talking and listening to people in and out of our trade as we all want the same thing: Happy customers. I don’t look at my business as a second hand store but rather as a business delivering a service to customers.”
This ability and desire to understand the customer’s experience is characteristic of the Y Generation. “They have lots of entrepreneurial spirit, they’re thinking like customers and they have a more energetic approach to business. Next month our two youngest franchisees ever will open a new store in a busy suburb near a university,” says Mukheibir.
The potential to be so integrally involved in a business, with control and huge income potential is an obvious draw card for many people considering franchising. However, the number one reason is freedom. “Millennials want the freedom to choose where and when they want to work. For younger entrepreneurs looking to start a family or even with a young family already, franchising offers this flexibility,” says Mukheibir.
Da Costa, who has two young sons, acknowledges that there are obviously pros and cons to being your own boss. “Sometimes you have to miss out on family commitments, but most of the time it’s up to you to plan and take advantage of the flexibility. Your time is your own.”
De Gouveia is on the way to settling down, and through his Cash Converters franchise he’s able to do the groundwork and build up the business so that when he is able to achieve a better work life balance when his life demands it.
Franchising gives millenials the power to be in full control of their careers and their lives, choosing how little or how much they want to devote to the business. However, looking at the success of franchises run by Generation Y, it’s clear they have the right mix of independence, nimbleness, drive and ambition.