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Posted on Apr 08, 2011

“small is the new big” in Franchising that is!

Big dog staring at little dogSo it has taken me a few years to read Seth Godin’s 2006 book “small is the new big” (no that’s not a typo, that’s how it is on the cover)… I’ll use information overload as my excuse for not getting to it sooner! Sorry Seth.

Yeah, the subject is not new, and the title has become a bit trite in the ensuing five years, but it struck a franchise chord with me.

If there is any merit to this “small” hypothesis (or observation), the franchise model offers the virtues that Godin extols. That is, at least to the entrepreneur with a great idea, a new approach who is willing to take a risk.

Franchise lore is steeped in Horatio Alger-inspired chronicles. Ray Kroc and Fred DeLuca come quickly to mind. And, there is more where that came from.

Franchising still offers that grand franchise opportunity to grow when other means and avenues may appear impossible or impractical.  And, it allows a passionate entrepreneur to stay close to the ground, tweaking the system, being responsive to fledging franchisees and loyal customers as well as the disaffected (translation: Facebook page).

Let’s face it small means staying in touch – whether it is with customers or franchisees. The franchise business model – with independent owners striving to succeed and connect with customers on a local level – is well-suited to take advantage of the “new big” philosophy. Plus, the small mantra applies equally well to both levels of franchising: a small business that has developed a system and proven concept can expand through franchising while others can invest in and capitalize on the growing concept by purchasing a franchise that caters to a new local market.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is riding this wave. Five Guys started franchising in 2002, sold out its territories in 18 months and now report over 750 locations. So what’s the key to Five Guys success (they’re just another hamburger joint)? Simplicity … just another way of saying SMALL.

Small business owners take heed: as Godin advises in the close to his short piece that supplies his title: “Small is the new big only when the person running the small thinks big. Don’t wait. Get small. Think big.”

… in franchising that is!

Jim Meaney is a lawyer with Zaino & Humphrey, LPA in Columbus, Ohio who has represented franchisors and franchisees for nearly 30 years. Jim is the co-author of “Starting a Franchise System: Practical Considerations, Planning and Development,” American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, 2010 Annual Forum (October 2010). He is also the author of How to Buy a Franchise. Visit or for more information or contact Jim directly at 614.975.9876 or

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