Don Daszkowski is the About.com Guide to Franchises. President and CEO of Business Mart, Inc. and the Franchise Buyers Network has owned and operated many of his own businesses for the last 14 years. He has successfully started and sold 5 of his own businesses and now dedicates his time to helping entrepreneurs start, manage and buy businesses and franchises. Here is what I found out about Franchising:
Hi Don, and welcome! I think you are the first About.com guide to getting interviewed on Entrepreneurship interviews. Can you tell us a little more about your role at About.com and also your company BusinessMart.com?
Don: Thanks for having me. I am the Guide to Franchises for About.com. I am in control of all the content for franchising. About.com is owned by the NY Times. I am also the Founder and CEO of BusinessMart.com. BusinessMart.com has become the fastest growing business for sale search engine, helping buyers and sellers of small businesses and franchises. BusinessMart.com has many resources to help business owners on their journey to start their own business, sell an existing business or open a franchise.
Ok, more about this later; let’s begin with how you started your first business. You told me you were a college freshman when you started your first business; what was it?
Don: My first internet business was a New York City Nightlife website. This website allowed individuals who did not have a personal relationship with a promoter to gain access to exclusive “guest lists” online. The site also had nightclub reviews, articles, interviews, and most importantly, a calendar of NYC events from Monday – Friday. The website was a big hit. I sold it to focus on bigger projects.
How did you come up with the idea?
Don: I had access to many promoters and nightclub owners, and many people called me to help them gain access to nightclubs and lounges. I figured having a virtual guest list would be a great way of turning this into a business. Nightclub owners and promoters paid to be on the site.
You also worked for top marketing agencies in New York, then decided to leave the corporate world and start your own business. How do you take this kind of decision and why?
Don: At the time I worked at these agencies, I was also running my website and building up another eCommerce business. I did not leave the corporate world without having something lined up. I always plan for the future. I am a firm believer in having something lined up before you “jump ship”…. But after “jumping ship” (leaving the corporate world), I never wanted to go back. Being an entrepreneur is in my blood.
I think with the current crisis; many people are facing the same – being laid off. Is buying a franchise be a good solution?
Don: You are right, many people are losing their jobs right now, but the really scary thing is that companies are not hiring. I think now is a time we are going to start to see many more entrepreneurs pop up. There are many people that will look back 10 or 20 years from now and be very happy they were laid off because this will have given them the opportunity to follow their dreams and start their own business. To answer your question… Yes… Buying a franchise is a great way to get into business for yourself because you are buying into a proven system.
What are the advantages of a franchise during a crisis?
Don: There are many advantages. As I just mentioned, you are buying into a proven system, and you have a partner to count on that has a lot of experience already. Your partner (the franchisor) has already opened many units and will help you to avoid all the mistakes that they have already discovered. Also, franchise companies usually do tons of research before they agree to open in a certain location. They check the demographics of the area and many other factors that will ensure success. I find that many people opening a mom-and-pop business do not do the required research, and this many times causing them to fail.
You told me that you work with a network of franchise professionals, so what are the most important trends nowadays, what works, and what doesn’t?
Don: I encourage people to always get involved in an industry that they have some past experience in and find out what the real expectations of the franchise owners are. Ask how many hours you will be expected to spend on any given week. The last thing you want to do is get involved in a business you know nothing about and be expected to work 80 hours a week doing it.
You are the president and CEO of http://www.businessmart.com/. Who is your targeted reader/user?
Don: Our target users are individuals and entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business or buy a franchise. We have an enormous resource section located at http://www.businessmart.com/resources/ that helps entrepreneurs and existing business owners. We also have an entire section of qualified vendors located at http://www.businessmart.com/free-quotes/ that offers everything from POS Systems to website design to payroll services. Basically, everything a small business owner needs to run a small business.
I’ve noticed a section for selling businesses. How realistic is it to buy a good standing business “online”?
Don: It is very realistic. We currently have listed thousands of businesses for sale in the US, Canada, and the UK. Researching buying a business or selling a business online has become the norm. People rarely pick up the newspaper classified sections to find a business for sale anymore.
Any advice for people looking to buy a business now?
Don: I suggest with all business transactions that you do your due diligence and make sure you are paying the right price so you can get a good return on your investment. Many times it is good to get professional guidance from a business broker or consultant.
About franchises, what would be the typical capital needed to start?
Don: You would need at least $25,000 to talk with a franchise consultant to discuss your options. There are some business opportunities that are under $10,000 that are available, but usually, you can not generate a full-time income from these opportunities.
And what are the skills you need to have?
Don: Every franchise opportunity requires a different skill set. I can say if you have management experience, you can qualify for almost any franchise opportunity.
What are the typical steps when buying a franchise?
Don: The first step is to fill out a profile sheet for the franchise company. This will help them evaluate you and see if there is a fit. If there seems to be a fit between the 2 parties, the next step would be to attend a Discovery Day. (To learn what a discovery day is, visit: http://franchises.about.com/od/franchiseglossary/g/discovery-day.htm) If you decide you are ready to buy, the next step would be to contact a franchise attorney to review all the documentation you receive from the franchisor.
By the way, what would be the most famous or successful franchise Worldwide?
Don: McDonald’s is the most successful franchise in terms of the most units worldwide. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, Subway might have the most units, and also, Subway is always in the top 5 franchises in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500. So it is really a toss-up between these two.
Do you think that franchises are a good option Worldwide or mostly for the US market?
Don: I think a franchise concept can work anywhere in the world. Of course, certain franchises will not work everywhere, but as far as the concept of “franchising,” this can work anywhere as a successful business model.
Besides your about.com guide, what would be the most important knowledge resources about franchising?
Don: The International Franchise Association is a great resource. The IFA was established in 1960 by William Rosenburg, the founder of Dunkin Donuts. The IFA is the largest and oldest global franchising organization. It is a non-profit association that represents more than 1,300 franchise systems as well as over 10,000 franchisees.
Any advice for people willing to start a franchise?
Don: 1. Research more than one franchise company in the industry you are interested in and compare notes. 2. Do lots of due diligence before you sign a franchise agreement and make your investment. 3. Speak to other franchisees in the system before you buy. 4. Use a franchise attorney, so you are protected in case you have issues with the franchisor down the line.
So what’s next for you? You started and sold 5 successful businesses; you share your knowledge with other entrepreneurs; what does the future look like?
Don: I will continue to help entrepreneurs fulfill their dream of business ownership. I enjoy helping people change their lives. Hopefully, within 5 years, I will have helped thousands of entrepreneurs start businesses and franchises via our website http://www.BusinessMart.com. I also have a pretty flexible schedule, so I hope to improve my golf game. Thanks for taking the time to chat.
UPDATE: See what Don is doing now Don Daszkowski Interview (2021)