For thirteen years Tom Scarda worked on the New York City subway system. He started at the bottom opening and closing doors for passengers and swiftly worked his way up to management positions.
Although Tom was going places, he was frustrated by the politics and bureaucracy that working for a government organization entails. But more than that, he was looking for an outlet for the entrepreneurial and creative sides to his character. So he gave up his job and bought into a national franchise company which he built up and eventually sold for a handsome profit. Today, Tom is a leading franchise consultant who is helping other people realize their dreams and ambitions – the way he did.
While working for the subway system Tom began to entertain ideas about being his own boss and opening a business, but saw at least two drawbacks. He had no prior business training and knew nothing about how to run a successful company. However, that didn’t put him off. In fact it fired him up even more.
In 2000, Tom bought into a national franchise company, Maui Wowi Smoothies, an all-natural, fresh fruit smoothie concept. There were the usual transition concerns of choosing uncertainty over unhappiness, but Tom had been unhappy enough in his salaried post to push himself forward. He had the support of his family, carried out a lot of research, and felt certain he would do well.
“I was taking a calculated chance and I knew in my heart that I would be successful. You have to get to that part where you know by hook or by crook you’re going to make this thing work, whatever it might be. If you have any kind of fear or anxiety it means you’re really focusing on the negative. I knew if I jumped out the window I would grow wings.
“It’s like what I tell me clients today. I ask them to think about the Wright brothers who invented airplanes. What they did is they figured out why things don’t fly and they did everything in their might to not let that happen. They focused on why they could make something fly.”
Tom’s franchise business was a phenomenal success. He expanded the operation into three locations and after four and a half years sold the franchise for the kind of money that could’ve sent him comfortably into retirement at the age of 41.
“Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t easy. It was a thousand times harder than working in a government job, but it was my baby so I did everything I could to make it work. It never seemed like work to me because I loved it so much.”
Tom found the company through FranChoice and on seeing his success with Maui Wowi Smoothies they asked him to come on board to help others do what he had managed to. As a franchise consultant he works with hundreds of people, advising them on the best business opportunities that match their personalities. The process also involves dealing with negative thoughts and bad attitudes that his clients have picked up over their careers, such as antipathy towards a bad boss and the frustration of being stuck in a rut.
“It’s about finding a great franchise for someone, for their family, their future and for the community in which they live. I’m just helping people see that they do have the qualities to be a great entrepreneur. But first, we have to clear out the closet in their head to get to the jewels that they were born with.”
Tom relishes his role as a franchise consultant and how he is able to empower people to transform their lives.
“I get a lot of satisfaction from when someone calls me, whether six months into the business or even six years into the business and they say, ‘Tom I should have done this twenty years ago. You know I see my kids more. I’m not travelling for business. I’m making more money and I control my schedule’.
“But more than changing lives I’m helping the economy. Putting money into a business creates an average of ten to twenty jobs in that community. So we’re also creating jobs by putting people in franchises.”
The Power of Role Models
Having role models that he could relate to helped Tom to achieve his business goals. He focused his attention on their qualities and can-do attitudes and emulated them.
“I came to the conclusion that entrepreneurs who have done great things in our world are just regular people who had ambition and persistence. One of my biggest role models is Richard Branson. I love that guy. And when I look at his upbringing he was just a regular guy. I gain inspiration from people like him.”
Tom says he has low self-esteem. For some, that can be a barrier to success, but Tom stopped it showing up in his business by continually telling himself that if his heroes could go from regular Joes to high business achievers, then so could he.
“I came to the conclusion that what really separates the people who succeed from the people who don’t is that they have perseverance and faith. They go the extra mile and that’s really what separates the winners from the losers.”