During a 9-year career in the National Basketball Association, Mark Blount learned how to be a team player, and those skills translate to his role as a small-businessman. Blount owns a specialty-food franchise in South Florida after he started with three of them.
“Running three franchises was like playing in the NBA,” he says. He had to juggle many responsibilities while he brought together “unique” personalities to accomplish a goal—in this case, the success of his business. “You have employees, schedules, which was fine, but getting everyone to work together was a task. It took me a lot to figure that out.”
Blount says a policy of having employees treat each other with respect, while he also provided incentives, such as gift cards to employees who sold the most during a specified time, helped to create solid teams. He says it took about 1-1/2 years to find the right people at each location.
Blount cautions that opening a franchise isn’t for everyone. The high amount of upfront expenses can be daunting, he says. “You need at least 2–3 years of rent money in your account to even think about being successful,” he says.
Location, of course, is crucial, and Blount learned the hard way that a good location isn’t permanent. Blount opened one of his stores in a bustling area, but after a few years, the area’s demographics changed, and he had to use a lot of resources to keep the business afloat. In the end, it was too much. Blount closed the location. (He sold another.) Blount learned that the type of location can matter, too. Theme parks, airports and outlet malls that attract back-to-school shoppers are potentially good options, he says.
Blount’s portfolio is 1 percent in his business, 79 percent in bonds, 10 percent in stocks and 10 percent in real estate.