Making the decision to invest in becoming a business owner is not one to be taken lightly.
There is, quite frankly, a lot at risk. But there is also greater reward opportunities — and a better lifestyle that may include things like more free time and a reduced commute. If you do the research and invest wisely, there is incredible value —personally, professionally and financially — in taking bold steps forward on your own. Your opportunity can be amplified if you jump into the business world via a franchise arrangement.
“People thinking about starting out in a new business are often scared of losing their shirts, but they don’t know how easy it is to start a franchise, and they don’t realize there are great government-backed financing programs that significantly reduce their risk exposure,” says Steve Tallis, co-founder of Starks Barber Company, and the man in charge of franchise development for the company. “They don’t see how easy it can be to succeed if you have a good model and are willing to work at it. People get intimidated by owning their own business, and yes, it can be intimidating. But the beauty of buying a franchise is you are buying support. We’re going to show you how to do everything and run the business successfully.”
There are currently three Starks Barber Company locations owned by Tallis and his business partner Ryan McLachlan — in Yonge Lawrence Village on Yonge Street in Toronto, in Unionville and a new store that just opened in Brooklin, north of Whitby. Its first franchise store is opening later this summer in Stouffville.
When considering getting into the franchise game, Steve and Ryan offer the following tips:
- Know Yourself — Before you make any rash decisions, know what it is you are looking for. Are you investing in a franchise to give yourself a job? Is it for income replacement? Are you looking for a particular lifestyle? If you don’t like working nights, a bar probably isn’t for you. Before jumping into the franchise journey, know what kind of lifestyle you are looking for, and choose your options accordingly.
- Get in on the Ground Floor — The more established a brand is, the more expensive and restrictive it is likely to be. There is an unspoken maxim in the franchise sector — if you have heard of them, it may be too late to get into the game. An emerging brand is more likely to net you a better location or territory, a better franchise agreement and more opportunities for growth and expansion in the future.
- Consider the Competition — With the proliferation of online shopping, the risks are greater for those considering opening up a store — online retail behemoths are destroying that business model. Look to industries and sectors that are “tech proof” — a service or experience that people can’t just buy online, and are likely to always need (like a haircut).
- It’s Not as Hard as You Think — There is a common misconception that getting financing for a franchise is time consuming and prohibitive, but it really isn’t. The Canadian Small Business Financing Program was designed to help entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground. The program is available at all the major Canadian banks, and the Federal Government assumes 85% of the risk, which is a nice incentive for both the aspiring entrepreneur and the lender.
- Look for Support — The franchise agreement is important, and will dictate how much support you will have in getting your business off the ground. It’s hard to be good inside your four walls, and be really good at the marketing and external efforts required for success. In a sound franchise structure, the franchisor will take on much of the external marketing and support, allowing the business owner to focus on building the business. There is peace of mind that the brand is doing work for you as you build up a customer base.
- Be Part of a Strong Team — Don’t look just to the franchisor; other franchisees have been there and an environment where best practices are shared is the place you want to be. You won’t be left all alone and will be able to learn from the mistakes of others.
It will also help to know a bit about the business you want to get into.
“When we speak to prospective Starks franchisees, we talk about the market we are serving,” says McLachlan. “We came upon this business model because we found men weren’t feeling like they belonged in a salon environment. The old school barbershop was dated and not up to trend. We also found that men are loyal; when they find something they like, they will hang around for a long time.”
For more information, please visit starksbarbercompany.com. Follow Starks Barber Company on Instagram @starksbarberco, Twitter @StarksBarberCo and Facebook at /StarksBarberCompany. Check out their YouTube Channel Starks TUBE.
Steve Tallis is the co-founder of Starks Barber Company, a chain of barber shops he launched in 2013 with a childhood friend. The concept was ‘a modern take on the traditional barber shop’ and has since evolved into locations across the GTA. In 2016 they launched Starks Gentlemen’s Supply; a line of premium men’s grooming products that are made in Canada.