Marti McDermmot is a business professor at Kaplan University and hosts a weekly podcast focusing on Franchising and Entrepreneurship. You can find our full interview on his website here: www.FranchiseInterviews.com
Hi everyone and welcome to a very special edition of Franchise Interviews, where for over nine years we have been interviewing the fran–trepreneur.
We have a great show today. We are meeting with Christy Wilson Delk. After 17 years in corporate sales and distribution, Christy Wilson Delk decided to risk it all. In 1996, she sold her house and cashed out her 401K plan for the down payment on the $1.7 million dollar SBA loan needed to buy and build a Kids R Kids Academy franchise in Orlando, Florida. She expanded twice and exited successfully in 2012.
Now, a professor at Rollins College, business speaker, and writer, Christy has turned her focus to helping others realize greater professional rewards through growing a successful business.
Franchise Interviews: When I read about yours,(story) it made quite an impression. Here you were, a single mom, you sold your house, you cashed in your 401K, you put it all down on a loan which was for over 1.5 million dollars and you know a lot of people would have said to you Christy “What were you thinking? It was very risky, wasn’t it? How were you able to sleep at night? I said that’s a story right there. It took some guts, didn’t it?
Christy Wilson Delk: When I look back on it, I think “Yeah it did. It took a lot of guts.” But I refused to think about that! I knew it was the right thing at the right time. Never doubted that. You and I as professors of Entrepreneurship know timing is super critical. I think anybody that is in the middle of starting their family or who had had some disappointments in the corporate environment or maybe sees their friends starting to separate from the pack and making some real money, you will know when the time is right. And I getting back to sort of that “it doesn’t take a superhero to start a business”, I knew I had the skills, and I knew I had the motivation, and I knew I could work hard enough, and I hate to use a cliché, (but sometimes you have to), I had done my homework. First with the franchisor, and then with the numbers, my numbers and that number down at the bottom right-hand corner that number made me a believer that I could make some, for me, serious money and I knew that was my shot. So, it did not feel like a risk to me.
FI: It’s a great response because in doing so many of these podcasts, I can’t tell you how often we’ve heard to go with that feeling in your gut. You said the timing was very critical too, wasn’t it?
CWD You are right about that. In one article, it’s on my website, I talk about how it’s not just personal timing, there’s a macro factor of course and there is a local market factor too. I recommend that they try to find an industry that is somewhat recession proof because you are going to experience, as we all know, business cycles and economic downturns. And so you want to try to pick something that is not a leading indicator and I felt like early childhood education or childcare, was one of those. People need daycare when they are looking for a job and when they have a job. So it’s good to think about that when you are looking at franchises and timing the start-up; it might be at the peak right now, but it won’t stay there through no fault of theirs.