The Covid-19 crisis turned most businesses on their heads. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for Entrepreneur’s Circle. Founder Nigel Botterill and Head of Marketing Cameron Botterill told us how this innovative franchise enjoyed one of its best years ever, despite a global pandemic and worldwide economic downturn.
The last 12 months have been strange and frightening for many reasons. And after international shut-downs, a global pandemic, and economic turbulence across the world, we wouldn’t blame even the most adaptable business owners for feeling shaken.
A report by Simply Business estimated 234,000 of the UK’s small businesses have been engulfed by the Covid-19 crisis. It’s also feared that restrictions and public health concerns could end up costing small businesses a mammoth £69 billion in lost revenue. Sadly, one fifth of small business owners feel they won’t survive another lockdown.
If your business is going to get through such a trying period, it’s vital you find the strength to invest your time, energy and expertise into your business. However, many franchisees and entrepreneurs have never experienced anything like this, leaving them feeling lost and hopeless about what they need to do.
Here at Point Franchise, we’re dedicated to bringing you as much insight and genuinely helpful advice as possible. We picked the brains of business coaching experts Nigel and Cameron Botterill, of Entrepreneur’s Circle, to find out what their top five tips are for weathering a crisis.
1. Seize even the most unexpected opportunities
When the future looks bleak and uncertain, it can be tempting to stick to only what you know.
But as Entrepreneur’s Circle’s origin story tells us, sometimes opportunities can present themselves in the most unexpected ways.
During the 2008 recession, while running the franchise network thebestof.com, Nigel grew sick of the negative news cycles that seemed to point to nothing but doom and gloom. He wanted to offer something to his franchisees that they could really use to bolster their businesses and allow them to overcome the devastating recession. So he rolled out a series of ‘Recession Training’ sessions.
After two highly successful events, Nigel made a short video capturing glowing attendee feedback to send to the franchisees who weren’t able to make it. However, an email mistake meant the clip was accidentally sent out to all 4,000 of the franchise network’s clients— instead of just its franchisees.
Nigel sent out a swift apology as soon as he picked up the mistake, but it was too late—the word had already gotten out. Coincidentally, this genuine and harmless mistake ended up becoming a happy accident that got a small number of clients interested in attending Nigel’s training sessions. Nigel explained:
“We agreed to put on three franchise training events for customers and sold tickets, even though it was our first time doing anything like this with people who weren’t franchisees. Much of the advice we were giving felt like common sense to us as business owners, but it was a revelation for the attendees. That’s when I realised there was something in this as an actual business opportunity.”
After a year of testing and refining the business model, the Entrepreneur’s Circle Coaching License franchise was launched. And today, and 100+ coaches later, it seems Nigel was right to pursue this incredibly unexpected opportunity.
If you’d like to find out more about Entrepreneur’s Circle’s fascinating story, check out ‘Customer Success: How Point Franchise Helps Entrepreneur’s Circle Expand and Thrive’.
2. Don’t let external circumstances scare you
Like virtually every other business, Entrepreneur’s Circle entered last March’s lockdown with a sense of trepidation. Cameron and Nigel explained that the franchise network was worried at the very beginning, as it was unclear how customers were going to react.
However, the franchise quickly discovered that, thanks to the quality of its services, demand continued to be high even during 2020’s most uncertain periods. One franchisee who joined in February 2020 has even managed to achieve her three-year plan in just 11 months—despite operating in the remote Highlands of Scotland.
“The pandemic showed us how big our market is,” said Nigel. “It’s opened our eyes to new opportunities and the business has grown massively, as people came to find us who never would’ve thought about business coaching under normal circumstances.”
Cameron added that everyone’s hard work, from the marketing team to the franchisees who have continued to offer excellent services, has really paid off.
“If the marketing is strong, and what you’re offering is good, it almost doesn’t matter what’s happening in the world. We’re offering a genuinely helpful service that’s useful regardless of the circumstances, so we’ve continued to enjoy plenty of demand.”
He urged other businesspeople to not let panic render them helpless during tricky times.
“We thought lockdown would be terrible, but we doubled down on our marketing and  turned out to be really great for the business.”
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3. Work on your weaknesses
One concept Nigel is keen for more entrepreneurs to understand is the idea of a ‘professional businessperson’:
“Most company owners are technicians–they’re brilliant at what they do, but they don’t have all the skills needed to run a business. Their industry-specific skills, like accountancy or logistics, won’t get them through a crisis. The business owners that outlast tough times are those who can think as ‘professional business owners’ rather than sector specialists.”
He explained how investing in tailored business coaching that’s uniquely designed to help people work on their unique weaknesses—whether that’s marketing, lead conversion, or managing teams—will help every business owner come back even stronger.
“As soon as we’re out of lockdown, we believe all businesses should be ready to go. There’s no reason why, despite all the restrictions, customers can’t make 2021 a fantastic year.”
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4. Support the whole community
Even if an ongoing crisis doesn’t affect your business, Nigel explained the importance of helping the broader community through tough times. One way this entrepreneur achieved his goal was by making lots of the franchise’s content available for free online, which just so happened to attract thousands of new potential customers in the process.
“I’m proud of the work the team has done over the last 10 months. It’s really been our finest hour.”
The franchise has also hosted events and ongoing workshops to make sure its business community can still access quality advice despite the current restrictions. In January, Entrepreneur’s Circle hosted its largest ever broadcast event, which saw more than 5,500 people tune in for some sage business advice.
“Community is a huge strength of the Entrepreneur’s Circle network. It’s been a great year for us, as more people have come our way. Because of this, they’ve been able to access our resources and improve their business for the future.”
5. Invest in your business
When times get tough, the knee-jerk reaction for many entrepreneurs is to tighten their belts and hunker down until the storm passes. However, as the past year has taught us, some difficult periods really dig their heels in and far outstay their welcome. Nigel explained just how important it is for businesses to use slower periods like these to adapt and grow, rather than just wait for life to “return to normal.”
“In our training centre, we’ve got a huge picture that says, ‘It’s all your fault—as a business owner, you’re 100% responsible for where you end up.’ At times like this, when there’s genuinely so much going on, it’s only human nature to go looking for excuses or reasons why you can’t succeed.”
He offered a parting piece of wisdom to anyone that’s struggling under the current circumstances:
“You can either make excuses or you can make money—the two aren’t compatible. And part of that often means getting some help through the toughest times. You’ve got to embrace your responsibility and equip yourself for what’s coming next.”
Grow your business with Point Franchise
If you’re looking to expand your reach and find franchisees that are well-suited to your business, Point Franchise’s targeted recruitment service could help. Find out more about our services for franchisors by visiting the advertise page. And if you’re interested in more of our top tips, head over to the articles page, where we post daily content on all things franchising.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©