Friday, May 15, 2009
The Open Franchise Experiment
Okay, I am going to discuss something here that is a new concept only in that it is two older concepts combined together.
Open Source Ideals and Business Franchising. Something many would consider a near oxymoron, if not a complete one. Yet despite the Corporate Software Industry saying GNU/Linux and other Open Source Software would never be as good as Commercially Produced Software many Open Source Offerings ended up surpassing their commercial counterparts in quality and user base.
So in this spirit we now introduce the Open Franchise opportunity.
Open Source is about freedom. The freedom to modify, change and improve existing code, documents and other associated items, so long as you give back and share these changes, if you distribute them to others.
Franchises are about business. In a normal franchise you purchase the right to use the name, trademarks, logos and other things from a parent company. In return you get corporate support and service. However franchise contracts are extremely restrictive and do not allow the franchiser many options.
The Open Franchise is a bit different. The franchiser is allowed to use the name, trademarks and logos at no cost. The parent company instead requires that the franchisee run a charitable operation side by side with the business. The support network for this business is not a central corporation but instead a network of other franchisers working on a similar goal and business. Though each Franchiser is given the freedom to run their business as they see fit, they are all essentially running the same kind of business.
Now they can be a one person operation, a family run business or they can have employees. It really depends on the community they are in and what the individual franchiser can sustain. In other words we have flexibility here. You can run it from home or an office, again your choice as a franchiser. Unlike other franchise operations in the Open Franchise concept the franchiser makes the rules with very few stipulations. The main one being that they also work the non-profit charitable business at the same time. Which when done right isn't all that hard.
See the franchisee in this scenario isn't a corporation, rather its another person who is also running this business as well. He has already hit the pitfalls, roadblocks and idiots along the path. He knows how to handle them because he had to learn the hard way. He isn't in it to be rich. He is more interested in working the charity side while simply making an honest buck.
Its about doing it better, doing it ethically and helping others along the way. To him if you can make a successful business following his lead then he has done more than a bottom line will ever give him.
That is what real business is about. Teach you how run a business, make that business work and then return to community some of that success so that those whom aren't as fortunate as others have a chance to better themselves as well.
So what's the experiment? Me. I am his first, and for the moment, only franchiser. The reason why is because I get to be one who is alpha and beta tested. Learning from me we will be able to create the Open Franchise concept and document it. even though it utilizes the Open Source Concept this is still business. A business that relies on a name that has to be synonymous with certain concepts and a reputation, otherwise everyone associated to it gets a bad reputation.
Yes there has to be contracts and agreements but they need to be fair. Allowing the franchiser the ability to run his business his way, while protecting the name, trademarks and reputation of the parent company. Welcome to a new balancing act.