As Art Imitates Life, so does International Development

Roberto Litwak

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Or is it the other way around? Regardless...these past few months I have had the need to become more physically active as my relationship with the scale had been, well, on the upswing. Having easy access to a trail near my home in the Santa Monica mountains, hiking has now become a pleasant routine which I look forward to at least 3 times a week. I would be lying if I told you this was the case a few months ago when I started. During one of these hikes, I had an epiphany...my hikes have followed the same patterns International Development does...let me make the connection...

In some, if not most of the cases, International Development starts not by a conscious decision of the Franchisor to go international, but rather, because an opportunity or an external influence presents itself, call it an e-mail seeking information from another country, a foreign citizen getting to know our Brand in an international event or trade show, etc. In my case, call it the scale.

Then it is up to us to, as individuals and organizations to react to these opportunities. Some of us may choose to ignore (consciously or not) these "signs", while some of us may decide to take action on them. For the latter group, then the question becomes what to do? In my case, because of convenience, and frankly because I don't enjoy being indoors in the gym, I chose the trail. In International Development we must carefully weigh the options: do we establish a Master Franchise or is an Area Development Agreement best suited for the organization? Does the candidate's values and goals align with ours? Is the timing right for the organization?

So we've analyzed and decided and are ready to begin, we've laced-up our running shoes, put on the fancy dry-fit shirt we bought just for this, we turn our activity tracker on, because we need the data, and we take the first step.

It is by the 0.75 mile mark that we notice our breathing is heavier and our calf is starting to pull - we still have about 4 miles to go. The first hill...

I've noticed that when the going gets tough, if I focus on each individual step, I am able to meet the challenge much better than if I look at the whole hill and start thinking of what is left to be accomplished. Preparing for International Development is certainly comparable to that hill. If we look at all the things we need to do and execute on, the task may seem impossible - legal requirements of the international market, operational considerations such as sourcing and permitting, etc. but if we solve them one by one, we are in a much better position, and state of mind to accomplish our goals; however, when I am back in level terrain, I am able to look at the whole trail ahead, can think of how best to approach the upcoming hills and even take a sip or two of water. In development, organizations do reach that level terrain, one in which they have met and performed all the challenges at hand and can now go back to reviewing the initial strategy, improving performance and taking stake of other opportunities lay ahead.

Upcoming Expos

Jan 24-26, 2019 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
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Franchise Expo South

Broward County Convention Center
May 30-Jun 1, 2019 New York, NY
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International Franchise Expo

The Javits Center
Sep 13-14, 2019 Rosemont, IL
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Franchise Expo Midwest

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center