How’s your business going?
If you’re successful and free to do what you want, hold your hand up to your screen and receive this high five. (Seriously. I’m giving you one right now.) However, if you’re more like most newer ‘treps, you’re a headless chicken sweating your way up the hill of success, confident you and your business will grow, no matter how things look right now.
That’s just your one business, but have you ever thought of franchising yourself by setting up subsidiary companies that provide specialty services? What if you had a three-entity business?
Don’t fall out of your chair, babe. Stay with me.
Running a group of three businesses may sound like quite a task, but let this success story inspire you that you can definitely do it if you want to.
Suzette Farquharson (pronounced FAR-kuh-son)-Morgan not only runs her three successfully, but is also a follower of Christ, and rockin' single mother of three.
And not three grown kids, mind you – three bey-bey kids: 15, 11, and 7 years old. She’s busy.
The Relevant Backstory
|Photo by JahGon|
She worked at what was then Harcourt, Inc. (now known as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) pretty much right after she graduated from UF and stayed with the company for six years as a copy editor (for non-book content at first), and began writing her first book, Living Testimonies, while there.
However, her entrepreneurship story is much like yours and mine: she quit the Harcourt job in December 2002 to finish the book and be a full-time mom, living from the money she’d saved and her Harcourt 401(k) plan. When that reservoir ran dry, she worked part time.
But she never imagined establishing a publishing company.
Two years after her book’s completion, FarMor Publishing was born. The name alone is a beautiful branding story – it’s the combination of her maiden and married names: Far (Farquharson) Mor (Morgan), and also stems from the company slogan: “Reaching far more than the eyes can see.” And Farquharson-Morgan wisely waited until the publishing company was legally established to finally publish her book (2005).
FarMor Publishing currently has ten clients (herself included), has published seven books to date, and will be launching three more this year.
But you already know that with any product – books or otherwise – you can’t just build it and they’ll come. They can’t come if they don’t know, right?
She covered that, too – with a non-profit company, at that.
For the one-year anniversary of FarMor Publishing’s second book’s release, Honey for the Soul: This is the Season, Farquharson-Morgan coordinated an entertainment event at the Maitland Civic Center that brought together local artists in the central Florida community, and she oversaw the production of a gospel soundtrack of songs that were inspired by the poems in Honey for the Soul.
The event was such a success, that Farquharson-Morgan birthed FarMor Entertainment as a 501(c)3 in 2009. When I asked why she chose to make it a non-profit company, she explained that her group is essentially a ministry; having a non-profit makes it easy to raise money for the events (sponsorships, grants, etc.) and all funding is tax-deductible for donors and sponsors.
Here’s another cool brand story for you: FarMor Entertainment’s non-profit registration was done on a service-to-service (aka barter) basis. She met a young lady who specialized in non-profit companies, and it turns out her brother needed some help with his book, so Farquharson-Morgan received her services in exchange for helping her brother with his book.
FarMor Entertainment, a four-person team, now holds an event for three occasions each year: the Valentine’s Day season (celebrating God’s love), Independence Day season (freedom from spiritual, emotional, and physical bondage), and Thanksgiving Day season (giving thanks and praise to God).
The next event is July 21, 2012 (the Independence Day season event), titled “I’m Free Part 3: No More Shackles! No More Chains!” at the Evans Performing Arts Center in Pine Hills (Orlando), Florida.
These events follow the model of the anniversary event that inspired them: Farquharson-Morgan seeks out great community talent (singers, artists, rappers, poets, writers, dancers, etc.) to perform based on each event’s theme, and as she explained, each performance is a cumulative experience.
For example, one person recites a poem, the next person sings a song that reinforces or augments the message in the previous poem, then the next person performs a gospel mime that dovetails off the previous song, and so on.
She also clarified that she not only includes book launches during those three events, but FarMor Entertainment also coordinates independent book signings and launch events throughout the year.
I asked her how she acquires sponsorships for the events, and she explained that she starts by contacting the businesses in an event venue's close proximity, then she expands her sponsor search in three ways:
- by contacting businesses and entrepreneurs in the greater area,
- by using traditional press releases (yes, those still work),
- and by contacting business organizations (the Central Florida Black Journalist Association, for example).
But the story doesn't end here. That one-year anniversary event also spawned the third arm of Farquharson-Morgan’s business.
Audio recordings are a great supplemental revenue opportunity (hence the gospel soundtrack for Honey for the Soul), and are therefore an option for writers who wish to offer packages for their books instead of selling the books alone; they’re especially handy for her poet clients.
According to the company website, FarMor Recording has already released poetry CD “It’s a Love Thing”, and a sing-along CD for FarMor Publishing’s first full-color children’s book, The Fly and the Hippo.
The three companies fall under Farquharson-Morgan’s umbrella company, FarMor Group, Inc. (FGI). Want to know FGI’s name story? According to Farquharson-Morgan, FGI is also an acronym for “formed in God’s image.”
This lady understands the power of backstory – in everything her companies do.
7 Takeaways that Can Help Your Business
- If you can monetize relevant skills to expand the number of customers you serve, franchise yourself.
- You’ll most likely need a team, even if only a small one (unless, of course, you want to remain headless).
- Foster great relationships and don’t be too proud to barter your services (it saves you money, and I know you need that).
- Consider making your entity a non-profit if it’s appropriate for your business.
- Harness the power of your local community (get out and talk to local residents and local business organizations, especially if you have an online business).
- If you know you can benefit from a good ol’ press release, don’t be too proud to use one.
- Outsource what you can’t do or don’t have time to do. Farquharson-Morgan outsources her clients’ cover design services as well as book printing.
Have you thought of franchising yourself and your services? What’s your business model? Let’s chat about it in the comments section below.
3D Image source
Portrait by JahGon.