If I’m being honest, after submitting my application to Student Works Painting, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I mean, sure I knew how to paint (I thought) but when it came down to the whole run-your-own-business thing, as a biochem & human geography student, this was unfamiliar territory. However, after completing a successful summer as a business owner, I realized that many of the things I learned had nothing to do with managing a painting business at all, but could be applied to many aspects of my everyday life. So, to give you a bit of an idea of what you’re in for, here are some of the most important aspects that I learned over the summer:
Learn to listen: Whether you are taking a business degree in school or not, you probably don’t know everything there is to know about managing a painting business. Listen to your DM (they rock), the returning franchisees, rookie franchisees with super exotic ideas (wait for them to confirm that they work first), and your parents. All of these people have different perspectives and levels of knowledge about your franchise and give (usually) awesome insight. If the advice is awful, at least you’ll know what not to do next time. Similarly, listen to your painters and marketers. Seriously. This will make your relationships with them much better – if they know that you are listening to them and making an effort to help them, they will do a much better job and things will go much smoother. Your painters are more crucial to the success of your business than you think! Finally, listen to what your clients have to say and requests that they have, most of them will notice and really appreciate it.
Don’t let SWP run your life: The DMs are going to hate me for saying this because they’re all crazy about SWP, but for me it was very important to take some time away from my business and do something that I enjoyed (and had nothing to do with clients and paint). This wasn’t only refreshing, but also gave me a new perspective on any difficulties I was having and helped with a successful and reasonable approach for these issues.
Be happy and have a positive attitude: More often than not, managing your own business is stressful, exhausting, frustrating, and a little crazy, which all have the tendency to negatively impact your mood. This makes it harder to make rational decisions, invest your time wisely, and deal with issues appropriately; it also has an impact on many of your relationships. Overall, I found that negativity towards my business was reflected back towards me in many small things, such as client complaints and problems on jobs. However, when I had a positive attitude, I was a better leader and business owner; the relationships with my painters improved and my clients were always much happier to see me. Being happy is contagious and it always feels good to smile!
Don’t get discouraged: I had the opportunity to run SWP in 100 Mile House, a small town that is often overlooked. This was challenging because there has never been a SWP franchisee there,
which meant I had no past client list, no paint store accustomed to my paint needs, and nobody who knew what it meant to be a franchisee for Student Works Painting. This made marketing more difficult and frustrating at first but I had faith in my little town and used the many connections that I had to build my business. It can be discouraging when some things that you have spent time and money on don’t work out, but this simply means that you need to adapt to your area and find what works for you. Some of the systems do take time before you start to see results (I got my first money letter lead in August), but perseverance is important. Believe in yourself, even if no one else does.
Having the opportunity to run my own business was more rewarding than I ever imagined, which is why I am returning for my second year and excited to improve on the aspects that I had difficulty with. Looking back on my summer, I had a ton of fun and couldn’t have done it without the network of support that I received through SWP. I met a lot of awesome people – other franchisees, clients, and DMs and even Dan, who never missed out on an opportunity to tell me I live in the middle of, well, nowhere.
Hope to see you at training!