My HR career began around 16 years ago when I got my HR masters degree in 2006. Fortunately, I found a job almost immediately and was in employment until the end of 2016, which is when I was made redundant.
It was then that I first tried my hand at going it alone, although most of the work was coming through agencies and wasn’t sustainable. I was later headhunted to work for a charity but soon realised it wasn’t for me.
At a crossroads and fed up of relying on agencies to get me work, I started to properly research how I could build a business and bring in the work myself.
I came across the HR Dept in a magazine and decided to go along to a few of their discovery days. This is where I really started to weigh up my options: do I go for another employed role, try and start a business myself, or go for a franchise model?
Having been employed for the best part of a decade, this was a big decision to make and I spent a lot of time weighing up the pros and cons of each option. Here’s how I made that decision and ended up where I am today.
Support and Security
For me, and after speaking to a lot of people, going into business alone felt like a lonely move to make. I felt like I would benefit from the kind of support that joining a franchise offers and this was undoubtedly the biggest pro for me.
I always describe it as being the best of both worlds. On the one hand, you feel like part of a team and have that all-important support network; a marketing department, other licensees that you can speak to if you have an issue or need some advice. But on the other hand, you are also running your own business and have the freedom and flexibility that comes with that.
The other big pro for me was being under the umbrella of an established brand. Building a brand from scratch can take an incredibly long time, which is something joining a franchise allows you to bypass. People already know and trust the franchise brand, too, which adds another layer of security when you go out there in the world and start trying to grow your client base.
That being said, starting your own unique business from scratch will undoubtedly appeal to a lot of people. If you’re reading this and thinking that’s you, then going it alone might be the best route.
Whatever you decide, creating a successful business will always rely on the hard work you put in yourself. While a franchise model gives you the brand and platform to leverage, it is still down to you to bring in leads and customers – just as it would be if you went solo.
There are clear financial elements to weigh up as well. While joining a franchise requires making an upfront payment, which might be off-putting for some people, I saw this as a much better long-term investment.
For one, this gets you the brand alongside accompanying marketing material and resources, including a website. The prospect of needing to do all of that myself was certainly a con for me.
The initial cost of the franchise package also comes with a wealth of training, which I found invaluable. There are a lot of things HR people haven’t done in business before – sales being one of them, and a very crucial one at that – and all of that is covered in the HR Dept package.
When you’re starting out on your own, it could take you a while to figure out why you’re not converting and that you might have an issue with sales. If you realise you need to upskill in certain areas further down the line, you’re already on the back foot and will still need to invest in your personal development.
Personally, I felt like having access to that training and a business coach from the outset gave me more of a head start than if I were to go it alone.
It is important to acknowledge that joining a franchise can come with some restrictions but equally that these are not necessarily a negative aspect.
For example, while some people might not like the idea of being limited to a particular territory, this was one of the big pros for me.
I had a young family at the time and wanted to keep it local. Joining the HR Dept allowed me to do that, so that element of geographical restriction was actually the best type of flexibility for me. I have also built some great friendships with clients because we are local and have that territorial boundary.
Another potential ‘restriction’ – and this may come as no surprise – is that you can’t just start making willy nilly changes to the marketing and branding. However, this was another positive restriction for me because the brand guidelines and marketing materials were already in place from the start (one less thing to have to think about). Besides, if you really are desperate to change something there is usually a degree of flexibility.
Whether you see these restrictions as a positive (like me) or a hindrance, that’s for you to decide.
Setting up your own business takes time, devotion, and money, whichever route you decide to take. Joining a franchise can help ease the burden by offering support, training and a ready-to-go marketing package. But it is also important to recognise that everyone’s needs are different and this might not be the right path for every HR professional.
When weighing up your options, take your time to do your due diligence, go to discovery days and speak to other business owners and licensees. Be open and honest with your concerns and reservations. Ask yourself whether some of those reservations could actually be flipped on their head and work as positives.
If you like the idea of having the freedom and autonomy of running your own business while also feeling part of a team, joining a franchise sounds like it could be the best way for you to start your HR business journey.
Omar Rashid joined in 2017 with two territories in Birmingham, then in 2021 he collaborated with another Licensee (Denise Waite) to combine their territories and take over the business to cover Central Birmingham & Wolverhampton as well.
Omar set up his own consultancy initially after leaving Corporate but joined us after he realised the level of support available that would boost his business.
If you’re an HR professional looking to embrace the freedom of having your own business, but wanting the support and structure to get you there, why not get in touch today and we can help you take those first steps.