And So The Journey Begins….

by leslie

Greetings All,

I am very excited to be launched as an author for the 50 interviews series. This subject is a natural fit for me as I am both a passionate franchise owner and have been working as a franchise consultant for nearly two years. It will be a fun book to write and I look forward to sharing updates and progress and brief interview highlights along the way towards publication. In the mean time, to get to know me a bit more, I thought I’d share with you a recent blog article  that describes a day in the life for me.

Crumbs in the Executive Suite….

 It’s a Friday around 11:30. Having finally taken a shower and gotten out of my pajamas for the day, I’m streaking across town (carefully noting the police traps), to my children’s preschool to pick them up. I shuttle both my kids (5 and 4) out of their rooms holding paper flowers, crafts still sticky with glue and paint and load them into the car. We’re back home around 11:45. I have 15 minutes to feed them (microwave macaroni and cheese, a fruit roll up and juice box), settle them down to an obnoxious cartoon (usually SpongeBob), separate the two cats so they won’t fight and give my daughter the usual speech “When mommy’s on the phone, you need to be quiet”. I sequester myself into my executive suite (aka known as our home office, craft room, cat room, dumping ground), take a deep breath and dial in to a franchisor introduction call.

 Oh, such is the life of a work from home mom.

 My days may sound a bit hectic. From one day to the next I could be doing my CFO duties for the franchise business my husband and I run, to doing a compensation project for a small business across town, to talking with a potential franchisee owner about their plans for opening their own business. I could be in pajamas making calls from home or dressed up in a business suit attending a networking lunch for the Chamber. I could be taking the kids ice skating or to the doctor, going grocery shopping or if I’m feeling self indulgent taking in a mid-day mani/pedi.

I thrive on the variety and flexibility that working for myself from home gives me. It’s a freedom and schedule that suits me, where I am in life and what is most important to me.

 Before the kids came along, my husband and I were working the corporate life in the Bay Area of California. We both had six figure incomes, two hour commutes and 60 hour work weeks. We paid crazy taxes, lived in a small house that was obscenely overpriced and always felt that we were on this treadmill, really going no where.

 In 2005, when our daughter was about 7 months old, we hatched a plan that would take us away from the craziness of the Bay Area, from our corporate lives and that stress. We knew we wanted to leave the Bay Area and we knew we wanted to end up in Colorado. What we didn’t know is what we’d do for work when we got there. We had decided we wanted to relocate to Fort Collins, a great college town about an hour north of Denver. We liked the small town feel, the college vibe and the proximity to great fly fishing!

 I started investigating jobs in the area that would be a fit. My corporate background was in Human Resources. My husband was a business development manager for a high-tech company in San Jose. Most of the jobs that were a fit for us were south  of Denver, requiring a two hour commute each day. We knew we didn’t want to move out to Colorado just to continue the same merri-go-round we were on in the Bay Area.

 I suggested to my husband that maybe we should look into getting our own business. I had run a successful HR consulting business in the Bay Area and enjoyed being in business for myself. My husband was a little less excited about the concept. He always had had corporate jobs, with predictable corporate pay. I began doing initial internet searches for businesses to buy in Fort Collins. I had thought “gee, running a pizza parlor would be kind of fun. Everyone loves pizza.” On one of my fateful internet searches, I stumbled into the net of a franchise consultant and so began a path that has totally changed our lives.

 Stephen Hogan from FranChoice contacted us and we began a journey that facilitated a sell of a house, the purchase of a new house in a new state, an investigation and purchase of a franchise and a cross country move with a 10 month old, while I was 10 weeks pregnant all in a span of less than two months.

 Fast forward 5 years. It’s March of 2010. Our franchise business is doing well.  Having survived a somewhat rocky and scary first year, we’ve been self-sustaining and profitable since our second year. I am working part-time in the business with my husband handling all the accounting, administrative and strategic marketing functions. I also am running a small HR consulting practice and am starting my second year working with Stephen Hogan as a franchise consultant. Because I was so happy with the results of our investigation and purchase, I asked Stephen to take me under his wing and tutor me.

 There are challenging days. There are frustrating days. There are wonderful days, where I absolutely know that what I’m doing is the right thing for me and for our family. In corporate life, I couldn’t just on a whim on a sunny day pack up the kids and take them to the park for a picnic. My husband and I couldn’t just play hookie on a Friday afternoon in the summer and take in a few hours of fishing. We weren’t in control of our destiny. Our efforts were contributing to the bottom line of others.

 I realize a risk like this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It still is a challenge at times, especially for my husband as I think he still remember the stable pay and predictability of corporate America. I’m more of the maverick in our family. I told him not long ago, if you ever change your mind on the franchise business, know that I won’t go back to corporate life. I just couldn’t go back to working in a cube, starring out at the same few parking spots in the parking lot, having to be to work by 9 and out by 5. I can’t. You might be able to, but for me, I need to have this freedom, this flexibility and variety.

Oh sure, there are days when I’m running around town and I see a power woman lunch, women glammed up (as much as they do get glammed up in casual Fort Collins), talking over salads and tea about their corporate jobs and pressures and I remember back to those days, but then my daughter says something silly and my son shoots his straw wrapper and hits me in the face and I laugh and know that they’ll remember their mother being home and available to them when they were young. They’ll see a mother who can balance being an entrepreneur with shuttling them to play dates. Perhaps my daughter will be inspired to own her own business some day.

I’ve gotta run. Have a chamber lunch today. I’m getting dolled up to power lunch with three male executives in town. This work from home mom has got to find her pumps somewhere in the back of my closet.

 Stay tuned….

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri Bell June 2, 2010 at 10:48 am

HI Les, So proud of you to be writting something and it will be published. Glad you’re doing something like this. I know you’re busy like crazy, but writing was always the easiest thing for you to do! Congrats and can’t wait to read more.

Brian Schwartz June 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Leslie,
Congratulations on taking the bold leap. My respect for you has risen 10 fold after hearing about your journey. You will be admired for being such a terrific role model for your kids, and I know they’ll look back on your post someday and be the proudest children on the planet. I have no doubt that this book is going to help a lot of others who seeking a way out of the rat race.
-Brian

Zafar Daud June 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Hi Leslie,

Your story is inspiring and I hope to do the same in the near future. Life is short and spending it in a cube and building others dreams is not how I see myself doing.

Thanks for taking the time to write this book, I can’t wait till it comes out.

Zafar

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