Want to Be a Next Generation Entrepreneur?

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ant to be an entrepreneur like these McDonald's next generation owner/operators? The first step to being a successful entrepreneur is to decide which type of business industry you want get involved with. Once you find the industry for you, you will need a plan.

"Plan, take your time and don't expect an instant result," says Leslie Potts, who is working for her father, McDonald's owner/operator John Potts, while she prepares to have a McDonald's of her own.

Leslie says if you are looking to get rich quick, you may want to think about another field.

"Everything gets built brick by brick. Some people are now at such a fast pace. You have to look at it as, 'This is my goal. What three things do I need to do to get half way?' Take baby steps. And, of course, don't be afraid."

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Part of eliminating the fear of any business venture is to do your research accordingly, says Joni Thrower, whose family owns a total of 13 McDonald's restaurants.

"Research, research," Joni stresses. "Make sure that it's something that you want to get into."

Her sister, Marissa Throwner, and brother, James Thrower II, agree. "I think it's important, for anything that you want to own or put your name on, that you put passion into it," Marissa says. "Get to know the company-especially with franchises that already have a history because you want to be successful and grow your customer base, and you can see their track record in making that happen." Adds James, "I couldn't have said it better myself."

Alyssa Moten, whose father Ron owns five Detroit-area McDonald's restaurants, left a finance career in New York to return home to the Motor City and join the family business-McDonald's-and become an owner/operator herself. She felt comfortable with the decision because she'd done her homework, and she advises others to do the same. 

"You should research their business practices, their people practices, values and the company's longterm goals," she says. She also agrees with her dad, Ron, in that you shouldn't accept "no" for an answer when setting business goals.

Don't forget about your goals as an entrepreneur, says Dominique Virgiles, who works as a supervisor at her mother Deborah Virgiles' two McDonald's locations.

"You have to have a goal of what you want to do and where you want to end up," says Dominique. "Never give up. Just realize you can make your dreams become a reality if you work hard."  

As a burgeoning entrepreneur, the majority of your free time will be spent handling the vast operations that come with your business, says Alyssa Moten, so you have to be sure you are involved with a company and industry that you fully support.

"So when you are in this position where your personal time is limited, it's OK, because you are dedicated to all the things that the company represents," says Alyssa.

It's about putting your heart in your business, says Brandon Jones, who manages his father Melvin Jones' Redford McDonald's location.

"Be focused. Be passionate about what you are doing. If your heart's not in it, then you really won't succeed at it-because you are really not invested in this company."  

To really be invested in a company, you have to understand the company from the inside out, says Monique Vann-Brown, a McDonald's Next Gen Entrepreneur who owns six Detroit-area locations.

"Make sure you understand the business that you wish to enter-that you know the product and the service," she explains. "Basic marketing facts, such as who is the competition. The cost associated with doing business-and then what are the longterm challenges and opportunities?"

If you are not the first person to pursue a particular type of business, chances are there are examples of success you can emulate, says Monique. Try to find a mentor that models your idea of success.

"You also have to have a strong work ethic," says Monique. "Understand, particularly in the restaurant business, your time is not going to be spent in a banker's hours type situation. You will be on call."

But, most importantly, these McDonald's Next Gen Entrepreneurs say that whatever business you choose, it is important to put the people you employ and serve first.

"If you don't have an engaged and dedicated staff, you are not going to accomplish your business goal," says Alyssa. "Your staff should always know that you care about them, their career opportunities are endless, and you are there to support all of their aspirations. And go above and beyond for your customers. Always."

Three Top Takeaways

Get into business for the right reason.

McDonald's Next Gen Entrepreneurs caution anyone from seeing any business as a get-rich-quick idea. All say that the primary motivator should be passion in what they do-and to make a difference in the community. Financial rewards follow naturally from that philosophy.

Do your homework.

Before opening any business, these McDonald's Next Gen Entrepreneurs say that it's important to find out as much as you can about the company and the industry. Knowledge is always power, but in business it can give you a leg up on your competition and enable you to minimize mistakes and maximize your odds for success.

Invest in people.

The McDonald's corporation is known for its commitment to training and growing its employees, and these Next Gen Entrepreneurs personify that commitment. They also see the merits in fostering talented and hard-working staff and helping them live their dreams. It's good business, they say.

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