Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The family as a franchise

As part of my new duties helping my husband in his small business, I've been working on the verbiage of the business plan (yes, this is in between soccer practices, volleyball games, painting the kitchen, planting shrubs, and taking care of the worst case of pink-eye in Raising Five history. Love my life.).

Last night I was working on the Executive Summary. Trying to make it appear like I know what on earth I'm doing, I referred a lot to a book someone gave us when we first talked about leaving Corporate America. It's called the E-Myth Revisited, by Michael E. Gerber. The subtitle is this: "Why most small businesses won't work and what to do about it."

Mr. Gerber's main concept is "doing" your business as though you were creating a prototype for a franchise. A franchise owner (say, a McDonald's) takes a concept and method that someone has already tested and proven, and puts them into practice in a different location.

When I, as a business owner, look at my business, not just as the product or service I'm selling, but as if I were someday going to "sell the process" of HOW I do it to someone else, it makes me look at everything I do differently.

For one thing, I'm more careful. Would I want 10,000 stores worldwide selling soggy french fries because I didn't set a standard for the oil temperature? I look at what's working, and throw out what isn't. I don't try to do it all (how could one person work in 10,000 stores?). No, I train and delegate. The mission of my business constantly drives its daily activities, and not vice-versa.

You see, I am creating more than just MY business. I'm also creating the blueprint for others to be able to create the same business, with the same outcomes that I enjoy with mine. And they will pay me handsomely for it, too!

Gerber calls this working ON your business, not just working IN your business.

Of course, I can't read ANY book about ANYTHING without relating it somehow to my family.

In many ways, we are creating a prototype for "franchises" of our family (five of them, to be exact!). What we are doing now with our kids creates a model (good or bad) that they will look to for years to come.

What are some things that are worthy of prototyping in this business of our family? Here are a few things off the top of my head:
  • Faith as central, unequivocal, relevant, personal
  • Marriage as a priority
  • Children as a blessing, siblings as friends
  • Warmth, laughter, togetherness, forgiveness
  • Family dinners, devotions, vacations
In twenty years, when I am a grandmother and I watch my children raise their children, it will be easy to see whether or not our prototype was a good one. The family "business" is successful, not just if it seems to run well now, but if the good parts can be seen repeated in the next generation. I can't think of a better payoff.

There really aren't that many priorities, but how easy it is to allow these things - the foundational, prototype-able things - to get pushed by the wayside. I'm looking at piles of this and that around me, running here and there, doing good things, and I find myself getting sidetracked. I'm often working "IN" my family (that which is important), with no energy left over to work "ON" my family (that which is significant).

Like my business plan, it's good to write these things down. What's working. What's not. Are we headed somewhere, or are we just running around in circles (I'm talking to myself here, too, believe me!)? Where do I need to make some changes to get back to my mission? It helps us solidify what we believe, and it holds us accountable to JUST DO IT.

I'd love to hear from you!
  • What are some things you want to "prototype" in your family?
  • What are some things that need to get the "axe" so they are not repeated in the next generation?

They in turn would tell their children,
so the next generation would know...

from Psalm 78:5-6

So...anyone up for some fries?


Lori said...

Oh my heck!!! That blog post really puts into words a lot of what is on my heart right now...Dh is working on a business, I am adjusting to everything else, and I constantly struggle with "what am I missing here?"

Oh thank you writing this!

Cassandra said...

This has to be one of the most awesome posts I've read in a while. You just have a knack for saying it in a way that is "gettable"...printing this one and adding to the Beth Moore/Katherine collection ;)

Rachel Anne said...

Great, GREAT illustration! I'd like to think about that for awhile! You're one smart sister!

Kate said...


This is wonderful. It is vital to project into the future when raising our children.

For me, I worry about our media choices. The boundaries slip sometimes.

Good things that I hope to see passed on are our daily conversations around our Bibles and our intentional choice to not be involved in every good thing that comes along. We enjoy A LOT of quality family time.

You have made me think here.


Jill said...

Great post Katherine!

We need to take the axe to doing to many good things and focusing on the best.

I hope we are doing a good job of making faith, marriage and family a priority.

Julie said...

So true Katherine.

A Vision Splendid said...

wha great post. I often write about this concept, but you have articulated it very well. I enjoyed the e Myth book and linking that to your family is a wonderful idea!

I try to creat a strong family identity that sets out a virtual manual of what we do and don't do. I am thinking of what my children will say when they are forty like " we always sat at the table for meals" etc. In terms of thinking like a franchise, I guess the day to day activities that we teach our children through modelling become the Stand Operating Procedures, which bring peace to the household.
In our house it is not watching commercial television, eating together at the family table, daily rhythms and routines, family traditions that make us a strong 'business'.