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Buying a franchise was life changing for me - the best career decision I ever made!

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  • Name: Paul Clarke
  • Location:Manchester
  • Franchise:UK Business Mentoring
  • Date launched the franchise: April 2017

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to buying your UK Business Mentoring franchise business?
I had thirty years in the Finance industry, holding senior managerial positions and having a passion for supporting business owners and utiilsing the skills I had gained in terms of leadership, staff management, sales&marketing, operations and finance.

Can you also tell us about the franchise you have bought? 
I purchased a Uk Business Mentoring franchise – so I have become a Business Mentor, providing guidance, advice and support to business owners. All my years in corporate life equipped me with some excellent skills, which maybe I did not appreciate at the time, but now I realise how  extremely useful these are and without them I couldn’t do the role I do now.

Why did you go down the franchise route? What made you choose the business mentoring industry? And why ultimately a UK Business Mentoring franchise?
I always had a desire to run my own business but wanted a framework and support mechanism to ensure success. Mentoring business owners is a priviledge and allows me to utilise all the skills and technical knowledge I have gained whilst supporting owners to achieve their full potential. UKBM were clearly the best I looked at and I did look at many. Their values are totally in line with mine and what they promised they delivered and what’s more, the community of franchisees are excellent and always supportive.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
A weeks training which was excellent was followed by ongoing support and personal mentor, supplemented by the regular meetings and training received from partners of UKBM. Importantly whenever I need to chat to someone, no matter what its about, they are always there for you.

How would you describe your day-to-day role as a franchisee
Supporting my clients is always the best part of my role, visiting them in person and being available when they need me. Alongside this marketing and networking is essential to develop my brand and customer acquisition and support of partners.

Running my own business allows me to fit in personal and health related activities and holidays which allow for a more balanced lifestyle.

Provide information on challenges overcome as well as your key successes to date. Please also detail the steps you have taken to manage the business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Initially the first 12 months was challenging trying to gain clients and constantly marketing my business and my offering. The support in the early months was outstanding to help and guide and share similar experiences. I have achieved all my annual goals each year including this first year which is in line with the case study examples I was provided when considering UKBM. Covid was a great example of our values aligning-we/i offered our services free to all existing clients for a period of time and I never lost a client and nor did my customers lose their businesses. We offered lots of free help re raising finance and accessing grants under the government schemes.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?
I was very lucky to have a very successful career before I became a franchisee and worked with some great people and teams but, being a franchisee tops the lot!

My wife comments how much more relaxed I am now and I genuinely feel I am adding significant value to my clients judged by their feedback, which in the latter days of my corporate life I felt was missing.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?
You will see from my comments above that this is important to me. I always struggled in the corporate world to do this, well I tried and sometimes succeeded but it never lasted very long! Five years in as a franchisee and I work my business around my life, whilst supporting my customers to ensure they have a good balance. I now feel that I have a great work life balance that works for me and my family.

Can you tell us about any community involvement, including any local partnerships, incentives or charity work you are involved in? 
UKBM has given me an opportunity to support my local community more-I run a monthly meeting for a local Hospice where I volunteer, with all proceeds donated to the hospice and I support the management team with free training and my time to help where possible.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to buy their first franchise?  
Do your research well, know what you want to do and what makes you happy or has done in your career and what you are good at. Being self employed feels a little daunting when compared to the security of employed work-a franchise allows you quickly to ease these fears and achieve early success.

Speak to other franchisees-I know at UKBM it was offered and suggested-and they also advised I speak to the competitors which I did.

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?  
A real passion for your business, drive to support your clients and resilience in the early days or when the occasional bumps appear in the road.

What are your plans for the future?
Continued work life balance alongside high client satisfaction and constant growth of me personally.

If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
I would believe in myself a bit more and would have maybe done it sooner but that’s easy with the benefit of hindsight!

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