Franchising under 30

30 March 2023

Less than 30 years old and already an entrepreneur, some people knew very early on that they wanted to be their own boss. But how do they win over older employees and gain legitimacy? How do you finance your business when you don’t have sufficient funds?

An Ewigo franchisee, Arnaud Richir has been managing the La Rochelle branch since 2016. When he set up his own business, he was 26 years old, and had to learn the trade of retailing at the same time as running a company. He tells us about his journey through difficulties and opportunities.

Arnaud Richir: Before becoming a franchisee, I worked in the banking sector. My customers were company directors, and I thought that one day I’d like to set up my own business too.

One day I sold my car through an intermediary. I didn’t know anything about this job, which I found absolutely wonderful. It was very practical to be able to entrust the sale of my car to someone. This helped to secure the transaction, which was an anxiety-provoking act for me. So, as a customer, I really appreciated the concept. I chose franchising because I didn’t know anything about cars and I wanted to feel supported.

At Franchise Expo Paris, you spoke at the “I’m under 30, can I be a boss?” conference. Why did you take part in this conference?

Arnaud Richir: Because I’m convinced that it’s a very good time to invest. I wasn’t very old when I started out, but as a branch manager, I’d got used to the comfort of no longer being on the front line. The older we get, the more we get used to these comforts, and embarking on entrepreneurship means giving them up. In my opinion, it’s better to do it early. Coming back to a purely operational job and facing up to the field again was a real slap in the face.

Beyond that, our standard of living drops when we become entrepreneurs, at least for the first few months. So I preferred to take the plunge when my situation didn’t require me to make large personal fixed charges.

Arnaud Richir: One of the first difficulties faced by young entrepreneurs concerns their credibility. We have to respond to older customers who doubt us. It’s a legitimate thought, since you have less experience than someone who’s been in the business for a while. In the beginning, you have to work a lot harder to win over customers. This lack of credibility also applies to our teams. We are sometimes confronted with the ego of employees, who don’t like being managed by someone younger.

Arnaud Richir: I bought glasses without correction to look older (laughs). On a more serious note, in the eyes of our customers, it’s preparation and experience that give us legitimacy. I prepared myself before each appointment to know everything there was to know on the subject. When the customer arrived, I was ready.

With regard to employees, the main key is humility. If they’re older, they certainly have more experience than we do, and therefore a lot to contribute. It’s something to be valued. They also need to be made aware that the company manager is not against his employees, but works with them to get to the same place.

Arnaud Richir: Don’t arrive on conquered ground, make use of all the experience accumulated by your employees and make the most of it. Don’t hesitate to give them responsibility. This has the dual advantage of making the most of your employees’ experience, and relieving you of tasks that you wouldn’t be able to do as well as those they do.

Arnaud Richir: One of the main obstacles is uncertainty. Today, we live in a climate of anxiety, with the crisis in Ukraine and the rising cost of raw materials and energy. There’s also the risk of social networking and the myth of easy money. These days, being a business owner isn’t easy at all, but on the networks you can find examples of people who succeed without working very hard. This can distort the assessment of labor costs.

Finally, lack of money is the biggest obstacle to young people’s entrepreneurship. But there is help available for young people with entrepreneurial projects. For my part, I contributed 25,000 euros out of my own pocket and applied for an Initiative France honor loan of 10,000 euros, which enabled me to apply for a bank loan. The banker pointed out my lack of experience in the business, but I had the advantage of my experience in the banking world, which made things easier for me: I knew what he wanted to hear (laughs).

Arnaud Richir: Undoubtedly! For banks, franchising is a real asset, as you can draw on the balance sheets of other franchisees in similar catchment areas. This business visibility enables them to secure their risk. What’s more, we’re demonstrating a profitability model that’s already up and running. This has value, especially for a business like ours which, in 2016-2017, was innovative.


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