Building a Business

Starting a Franchise With Laura Novak

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Starting a Franchise
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If someone told you they were starting a franchise, what would be the first thing that came to mind – Mc Donalds, Chick-Fil-A, 7 Eleven? When you start to look into the world of franchises, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. These days they come in all different shapes, sizes and niches.

Today the guys chat with Laura Novak, owner of Little Nest Portraits Franchise, about starting a franchise. She talks to us about how her franchisees work, why she decided to go franchise and what systems she has put in place to make them successful.

Why Franchise

Laura started out as a photographer when she was only 23 years old and grew her passion into a successful small business of her own. As the years went on, she wanted to spend more time with her family and was ready to build a business that was bigger than her.

For most entrepreneurs, it’s hard to let go control of their business. After being approached by someone about opening another Little Nest location, Laura started to think about starting a franchise. Doing this would allow her to still be in the business, but its success wouldn’t be tied to her hours.

There is a significant difference between working in the business and working in the business. It was well said by Michael E. Gerber from the book The E-Myth Revisited about The Franchise Model.

“It is a proprietary way of doing business that successfully and preferentially differentiates every extraordinary business from every one of its competitors. In this light, every great business in the world is a franchise.”

Laura began to see fasting growing franchises in the women’s services sector such as workout studios and blow out salons. These companies were giving women the chance to have successful careers while being in control of their schedules and lives.

She wanted to help people do what they love while balancing their families and home. With Little Nest Portraits she wanted to empower others and offer them a chance to be a successful and profitable entrepreneur. She has opened three locations, and there are a few more in works.

How It Works

With a franchise, you are for the most part trusting your brand in other people’s hands, so it’s super important to find the right people.

The Little Nest vetting process is pretty extensive. It starts with 3- hour long webinars to get to know a little more about the candidates and give them the opportunity to learn about the company. Next, Laura will spend a day together with the candidate in person to learn even more about each other’s values.

During these meetings, she looks for qualifiers such as level of management experience. There is already a lot to learn about the business itself, so she needs someone who already knows how to manage people successfully.

They also need a decent amount of business experience and understand the basics. Most importantly, personal values need to match. All these things help Laura determine if an individual can capitalize the business.

She has found the best owners do not have much experience with photography but instead have excellent sales skills, and of course, a passion for running their own business. Laura and her team provide weekly reports to all branches to show how everyone is performing.

Franchises are all about partnership. The location owners success is also her success. Laura and her team provide owners with proven systems to support the growth of the business from marketing to customer service to decor. They want to give franchisees all they need to run a Little Nest successfully.


Some franchises require you to have a certain amount of assets as well as liquid funds to purchase a branch. For Laura and her team, all they are concerned with is if the franchise can get the appropriate funding.

For Little Nest, the average range for a loan is $130-225k. This includes the franchising fee that covers things like growth support throughout the first year, training for you and team members, construction costs and design guides for the studio.

There are four ways you can fund a franchise. The first is through the SBA registry. If a business is listed through the SBA, that means the business plan was approved, and you can receive a fast track loan.

The second way people get funding is by taking a home equality line of credit. A third option is a Benetrends loan which allows you to use your 401(k) to start a business – penalty-free through ROBS (Rollover for Business Start-Ups). And last but not least, the most attractive option – The National Bank of Mom and Dad.

Opening Day

Once a new location is funded work begins immediately. Besides physically setting up the site there are a ton of things to do behind the scenes. A plan will be created to generate and convert leads for that location – running Facebooks ads, booths at local fairs, etc. Laura’s team helps create growth benchmarks and devises a plan to hit them. This is a usually a 6-9 month ramp-up period before opening.

Hiring staff will also happen during this time. These days everyone has a camera on them at all times, so the average person is pretty good at taking photos. The photographers they hire have to be significantly better than what people can do on their own making the recruiting process is intense.

First, the editing team looks at the candidate’s work to determines if they should come in for an interview. Then they do an interview that includes a demo shoot. If they get chosen, there is an eight-week training period which not everyone makes it through. All photographers have to be on top of their game creatively, and technically to be hired.

Turn Business into Franchise

Before you think about turning your small business into a franchise, you need to be able to duplicate the whole process it without you first. You need to be at the point where you don’t have to be there anymore. That might mean opening your second location and teaching someone else to run the business without you.

Doing this test run will help you understand what systems you have to set in place for someone else to be able to execute the company successfully. When it’s truly not about you anymore, and the systems in place can work on their own, then you can easily teach someone else. Want to start a Little Nest Portraits Franchise?

Show Notes

River Horse Roly Poly Pils – Andrew’s Beer

Laura’s blog Joyprenuer 

Laura’s New Podcast 

Laura Fiebert - Head of Operations
Laura is a huge part of what keeps LMM going. She edits the podcasts, books the guests, writes, manages social media (except twitter, she hates it) and a million other things that keep the wheels turning. Most importantly makes sure everything gets done.

She's an avid knitter, wine drinker, and thrifter. A passion of Laura's is second-hand shopping and refashioning vintage clothing. She now has a side business reselling thrift store finds using Poshmark. You can check out her closet here Very soon she'll be launching a site documenting how she runs her Poshmark business so she can teach others how to make money thrift flipping.
She loves cheap champagne, traveling and crappy reality TV.

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