The zen of self-employment through franchising

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business leaders are changing the service landscape. Today we’re speaking with Jeff Levy, franchisee and business coach at The Entrepreneur’s Source (TES), a resource network for people who want to own their own franchise business. He shares his secrets about how to achieve lifestyle and income zen through self-employment and franchises, even through COVID-19.

Jeff Levy, Business Coach at The Entrepreneur's Source (ES). Beaze, a vendor procurement marketplace for franchises.
Jeff Levy, Business Coach at The Entrepreneur’s Source (TES) | Photo Credit: Jeff Levy

Why The Entrepreneur’s Source (TES)?

TES helps people who want to own their own business, but don’t know how to start. We are not in the “brokerage” category; our main objective is not to sell companies or franchises. We focus on our clients and their respective lifestyle dreams. Based on our clients’ objectives, albeit income, lifestyle, wealth or equity, we coach them on how to evaluate specific franchise business options and how to start operations. I am very proud to have personally helped over 350 people start businesses during my 18 years as a coach.

Many of the people that I work with are out of a job for one reason or another. Perhaps they wanted to change, or were discriminated against, or were downsized.  Often I get to work with young couples disenchanted with a lifestyle associated with corporate America. What binds my clients together is that they are looking for a safe place to learn and explore small business ownership.

It’s enjoyable and rewarding for me to help people launch a business; I love building meaningful relationships with these individuals and sharing their excitement!

What’s the best go-to industry for franchises?

There isn’t one, but our most active franchise categories tend to be in health and beauty, such as hair salons and gymnasiums. It all depends on the person and what they are trying to accomplish. One franchise can be the perfect fit for one person but a terrible fit for another. You need to think about what you’re good at, what kind of hours you want to work, and what type of income and equity goals you want to make before you can choose a path. The experience of my coaching usually lasts 2-6 months and may or may not result in a franchise award.

What kind of businesses have you helped launch?

It’s a comprehensive spectrum as franchising covers over 80 industries and is always expanding with new concepts. Recent franchise placements this year include coin-operated laundries, outdoor lighting, remote IT managed services and a variety of senior care businesses.  Typically, my clients choose a company that they would never have thought of themselves. There is no perfect business; there are only businesses that, through your hard work and vision, can be made great for your own lifestyle needs. When asked, what is an excellent franchise, it ultimately depends on what is right for the individual.

What is something everyone should know about client acquisition?

People need to be respectful and thankful for those that send referrals. My client acquisition strategy comes from being a substantial contributor to the business community including the Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE, and the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC). I’ve lectured on a variety of topics that help guide others to make an informed jump into business.

For me, I’ve learned that each client is thinking of making a significant life change – I learned that I need to give those people every possible effort to support them in that endeavor. “Never sell, always coach” which has helped me become a better listener.

What have you learned about franchises that you wish you had known when you first started?

It is better to have a predictable, successful business that supported my life goals than it was to dream about controlling my fate but never doing anything about it. Franchising, and the experience of learning and exploring options, can be life-changing.

What’s the #1 mistake you see franchises owners make? 

It usually takes more than one thing to undermine or fail at a franchise business. If I were to name one, it would be when a person does not become a student and follower of the franchise system in which they invested. Learning new things can be uncomfortable. The solution, look to the people who have successfully developed and own franchises in the same system. Follow what they did and only try to improve once you have mastered the basics.

What’s your mantra?

“You can get everything in life you want if you help others get what they want” per Dale Carnegie. Franchising is a wonderous area to explore because, with proper coaching, you can learn a significant amount about a business model before making the jump.

How do you give back to the community and why is that so important?

Through luck or circumstance, I have had the good fortune of varied and productive life experience in business. My experiences include buying and selling companies, partnerships, raising capital, taking a company public and of course, franchises. I feel like it’s my responsibility to coach, mentor and teach what I have learned. I was recently Chairman Of the Board at the SU Entrepreneurship Center, currently Chairman Of the Board of the Bellevue Business Roundtable and a past President of The Executive Network of Seattle. I taught entrepreneurship at Seattle Central College for three years based on a book I co-authored; the class is still ongoing. I also teach at King County library systems and several affiliates of the SBA. Whew. I’m grateful to have accumulated a lot of practical experience that can be shared and save my clients from making mistakes.

Any advice for business owners or potential business owners during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic?

New owners need to make sure they have a robust financial plan with enough capital to extend the runway through and beyond the current crisis. As long as we have our health, this pandemic (like any other challenge) will end. Even though we have had a late start in some areas of the country, the local government in Washington continues to amaze us. On the plus side, people are at home with more time to contemplate, so now is the time for researching and planning if you’re thinking about starting a business. 

A new business owner has to have a vision and a belief in a brighter future and enough of a financial runway. Existing owners may be challenged if they haven’t planned for contingencies such as this. Fortunately, some wonderful federal programs emerging that will help existing business owners weather the storm. Owners should get a hold of an SBA affiliate, such as a SCORE counsellor, immediately to better understand what programs are available to help them over the next 3-6 months. I’ve been a volunteer mentor there for years, and I still learn a great deal from other mentors who bring their own industry experience.

When all is said and done, what do you hope for TES to achieve?

To leave a legacy in the business community that creates many jobs and financial security for all.

The Entrepreneur’s Source is a preferred partner on Beaze.

How military-grade data on bacteria helps you shed 100 lbs

3-minute read

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with Cesar Amaral, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MX360 Fitness, on getting health and business back on track.

Cesar Amaral of MX360Fitness, a health and wellness vendor based out of Bellevue, WA. | Beaze
Photo Credit: Beaze

So, why MX360 Fitness?

It all started 7 years ago when my mom passed away from diabetes. While she was alive, I had lost and regained huge amounts of weight nearly a hundred times through every fitness fad you can imagine. She saw me struggling and taught me how to sustainably and intentionally lose weight by watching my diet and exercise but more importantly, how to maintain a positive attitude towards life. Through her watchful lifestyle battling this terrible disease, I learned how important it is to choose healthy habits. 

Cesar Amaral of MX360Fitness, a health and wellness vendor based out of Bellevue, WA. | Beaze
Cesar Amaral (before and after). Photo Credit: MX360 Fitness

How did you break into the fitness industry?

I jump-started my own personal health journey by losing 100 lbs and keeping it off. Through her memory, I’m motivated to help others become the best possible versions of themselves. She helped me realize the importance of learning to love and accept yourself for who you are. This revelation has shaped my emotional and physical well being and allowed me to support my current audience of 9 million viewers on social media. 

What’s the best way to help people get started on a transformative journey?

Take on goals in 5 minutes increments.

Whether you’re reading to become more informed on a topic, or meditating for stress-relief, or working on your business side-hustle, revolutionary change requires a step, any sized step, in the right direction. If you do anything for 5 minutes a day, 365 days of the year, you’ll become an expert. This is true both in health and in business.

Transformation is painful. How do you battle complacency and exhaustion?

Ask a friend to join you. 

Whether it’s for a workout or a business brainstorm, the perfect person to do this with is someone who is more “fit” than you in these areas. Working out and masterminding with someone who is further along in their journey will help you break out of your complacency in a heartbeat! 

When I’m feeling burnt out, I find it extremely helpful to take a day off. This will do wonders for you, your creativity and your business. 

What advice would you give to small business owners who are getting started?

Be frugal 🙂 

One of the things I have learned to minimize expenses on things that aren’t important to my mission. For example, I downsized my living space, I don’t buy clothes/shoes/etc. Unless I absolutely have to, I won’t even buy a cup of coffee or pay for internet service anymore because my WeWork office space provides it. I’ve cut all unnecessary expenses out of my life so that I can invest everything back into my business.  

Tell us about how you give back and why that’s so important.

I’m a strong advocate of non-profits within the multiracial community, one, in particular, is El Centro de la Raza. Within this group, there are 42 different social justice programs that help low-income families with housing, childcare, small business, and community events. I was part of the steering committee that helped raise $45 million for one of their building projects, MCee multiple of El Centro’s events and continue to be involved regularly.

What does success look like to you?

A world in which everyone has an opportunity to succeed in life. My dad taught me how to love and how to work. His life showed me the importance of responsibilities and how to hone in on what’s most important. He set the example by never missing a day of work and yet always being there for our family no matter what.  He grew up without a father himself and that spoke volumes to him and us. I aspire to be like him in every way that I can. I want to make him proud of all the people I help daily on their journey towards self-acceptance and happiness.

Do you have any trade secrets? Please share!

Data, data, data. 

I’m a huge fan of Viome. It’s this service where they analyze your gut-bacteria to determine what foods are actually good for you. They also use data and artificial intelligence tech from the military that was originally developed to fight bio-attacks. I found out that foods like spinach, lentils, and bell peppers are inflammatory for me.  Clients are super stoked when they find out that there’s hope in getting scientific answers as to why they may be more successful at times in their health journey than others. It shows the power of technology and evolution.

When all is said and done, what do you hope for MX360 to achieve?

My dream is to positively impact the lives and health of millions for people through MX360 Fitness. I dream of one day, being the go-to place for holistic health for our members. From the moment our members wake up, they will check their MX360 Fitness App/Member site for the healthy breakfast recommendation for the day, they will receive their 10-minute meditation, their 15-minute workout video, their 10-minute reading excerpt for the day…

From the moment they wake up until they go to sleep, we will be there to guide them in making healthy choices. 

MX360 Fitness is a preferred partner on Beaze Beta.