Beginning Your Journey…

My husband and I founded BrightStar in 2002 with a mission of delivering quality care to families everywhere. From the beginning, we dreamed of expanding our business across the country so we invested in technology and great people. As we invested and looked to the future, we worried how we would grow the BrightStar brand while maintaining our special culture - and avoiding over-leveraging a new, growing enterprise. But concurrently investing in two hotels and becoming franchisees ourselves in 2004 – call it “divine intervention” – changed our perspective on expanding our business model forever. We sold our first franchise in December of 2005 and opened our first franchise location in March 2006. Fast forward five short years later and we have more than 175 franchisees in 250 locations and have invested heavily in technology and a “best in class” team to ensure continued growth. I am so lucky to have been surrounded by brilliant mentors that have guided me through my journey in franchising. I wanted to pass along the precious gifts – lessons, skills, tools, knowledge – that my mentors have given me along the way to empower other potential franchisors to not only start strong, but enable business ownership for franchisees and make them successful on an ongoing basis as well. Has our business experienced success? Yes. Have we done it alone? No way. Have we made some mistakes along the way? Absolutely. And while I’m not proud of the mistakes, to the frugal CPA in me, sharing them to enhance the opportunity to help others avoid pitfalls I endured just seemed to make sense. I didn’t immediately think, ‘I know, I should write a book,’ but just as I approached the BrightStar business model in the early years, I contemplated ways I could reach those in need (in this case, business owners and franchisors) across the country and have the most impact. The urging of my close friend, mentor and attorney, Brian Schnell, was the inspiration I needed: “Write a book,” he said. And with that, Grow Smart, Risk Less was born. My mission is simple: to help those of you who are interested in expanding your business through franchising or who are already in franchising – regardless of your role, your years in franchising, or the number of units your franchise system has. The content in this blog and throughout the Grow Smart, Risk Less Website is geared toward sharing the Bright Ideas and Pitfalls to Avoid from our experience – that I hope will benefit you along your journey.