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Mastering the Inner Game of Franchise Ownership

Written By: Daniel M. Murphy
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For franchise owners to have greater success and balance in their external world, they have to master their internal world first.  Franchise success has much more to do with the mindset and skill sets of the franchise owner (the inner game) and less about business mechanics and tactics (outer game).  To be a successful franchise owner, you must master the inner game of business. What typically holds franchise owners back has nothing to do with their franchise system or franchise location but everything to do with their own limiting beliefs.  While they have been given access to a proven operating and marketing system, very often they lack access to what they really need, a “business owner mentality”.

As a franchise owner, your success comes down to how you habitually think and act.  Your business is where it is and how it is because of your past thoughts and actions.  For your business to change, YOU must change.  You must learn to think and act like a successful owner and think and act like a successful marketer, not a technician.  In the end, you need to focus as much on the internal game of business as you do the external game. 

The true battle waged for franchise success does not take place in the market arena; it takes place in the mind of the franchise owner. You must understand your strengths, weaknesses, dreams and mental barriers. You must take responsibility for your actions and have a bias for action (not analysis paralysis). It’s about using your mind as a powerful asset, not a destructive liability. Your greatest competition will always be with yourself, especially fighting off the mental gremlins (doubt, fear, limiting beliefs, incorrect assumptions, self-esteem issues, etc.) that try to sabotage your dreams.

This article examines the four critical areas a franchise owner must master in order to be successful and fulfilled: self-knowledge, responsibility, marketing and action.

Self Understanding

Franchise owners need to take time to slow down, reflect, face reality, and engage in self-analysis at least once a quarter.  They must seek the truth -- the good, bad and ugly – about their business and themselves. This level of truth and self-understanding is not only necessary, it is critical to adjusting plans, strategies, goals and approaches. 

There is powerful clarity when entrepreneurs know who they are, where they are, and where they want to go.  Once that clarity is reached, they simply need a plan to get there and some on-going accountability to keep on track. 

Instead of delusions or illusions, successful owners desire to deal in facts, not fiction.  They bravely face reality.  They want to know the way things really are, not how they wish them to be.  They ask questions of others and listen.  Based on truth and self-understanding, they can adjust their approaches, seek appropriate help, hire complementary skills, outsource certain functions, and work on modifying limiting beliefs, old ways of thinking or ineffective mindsets.  Very often, it’s not what we don’t know that prevents us from succeeding; it’s what we think we know for certain that just isn’t so that is our biggest challenge. 

Do you truly know yourself and know your business? Are you aware of your strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and mental gremlins?

Being 100% Responsible for Your Results

Successful franchise owners take 100% responsibility for their success and happiness.  They do not deny, dismiss or delegate responsibility or accountability.  Successful franchise owners like being in charge of their own destiny.  They don’t leave it to chance or others.  They believe, “I create my circumstances.  I am never a victim.  I blame no one else for my results.” 

Successful entrepreneurs don’t waste time or energy blaming who is in the White House, the economy, the competition, the stock market, their spouse, their parents, their employees, their customers, their luck, etc. They don’t try to justify any temporary failures.  They don’t try to rationalize their setbacks.  They don’t complain.  Successful entrepreneurs take 100% responsibility for their business, their life, and their results.  You can either spend time making excuses or making money -- your choice. 

Do you truly take 100% responsibility for your success and happiness?  Do you spend energy on making excuses or making money?

A Marketing Mindset

Your mind can be your greatest competition or your greatest ally, your greatest liability or your greatest asset.  How you think determines how you feel, how you feel determines how you act, how you act determines your results.  Note that everything starts with your mind. Therefore, learn to think in ways that will support your success and happiness.  Learn to adopt effective mindsets. 
Above all else, you should be in the business of MARKETING. Your mindset should be that you own a customer-gaining, money-making, marketing business.  No matter your technical product or service, you are first and foremost in the marketing business.  You and your company's top priority should be attracting, serving, retaining and multiplying customers.  With sufficient customers and profits, you can tackle nearly every challenge.  Without sufficient customers and cash flow, you won't have a viable or sustainable business.
Even if you have the best product or service in town but people don't know that, you will not create abundant business and wealth.  Wealth is created by leveraging marketing - communicating to and influencing large groups of current customers, prospects and referral sources.  Marketing is simply on-going education.  You are educating customers, prospects and referral sources why it's in their best interest to do, and continue to do, business with your company.  Who is in charge of that critical, on-going education and communication campaign for your company?  If no one, be warned!  You are thinking and acting like a technician, not a business leader.
Do you have a marketing mindset?  Is marketing your top priority? What new strategies can you add to your business?

A Bias for Action

Successful franchise owners do not over-analyze situations, the marketplace, customers, opportunities, problems, etc.  They take action.  They get going.  Even with imperfect information, they take action.  Even with doubts and fears, they take action. Even when they feel uncomfortable, they take action.  Taking action is the great differentiator between successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs.

Action is almost always more valuable than inaction simply for the fact that you learn a great deal when you take action. Analyzing something to death, trying to anticipate every twist and turn, attempting to answer every potential question ahead of time is a waste of time and energy.  You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, with ambiguity, with missing some of the pieces to the puzzle.  You can’t be a perfectionist.  You will be paralyzed and end up failing.

Successful entrepreneurs set a goal, take action now, monitor their results, make adjustments to improve results, and take action again.  They repeat the process as necessary, taking and learning from each action.  Again, temporary failure is viewed simply as valuable feedback of what not to do next time. 

Business success is an inside game.  You already possess the key, your mind.  If you shape your mindset properly and have persistence, nothing can stand in your way.  If necessary, you will go through, over, under or around the obstacle.  You will figure out a solution.

Do you have a bias for action or for analysis?


To take your business and personal life to a higher level, you must master the inner game of business. You must know who you are and where you want to go, take full responsibility for your results, improve your marketing mindset, and have a bias for action.  

Daniel M. Murphy is the President & Founder of The Growth Coach, a franchise system of business coaches working with individual franchise owners and entire franchise systems throughout North America. Murphy is also the author of the book and resource guide, Becoming a Strategic Business Owner.

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