Episode #17


The Different Paths To Becoming An Entrepreneur With Matt Tanner

Have you dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur? Did you grow up working in a family business or just knew at a young age you wanted to own your own business? In a day and age where young adults are catapulted towards college, perhaps there is another way. Here to talk with me today is Matt Tanner, an entrepreneur and franchise owner at the young age of 27. We talk about how he grew up in the business, the businesses he owns, education, and so much more!

Matt graduated from Shenandoah University with a degree in Business Administration and Management. Within 6 months of graduation, he had already purchased his first franchise—Auntie Anne’s. Now he’s a multi-unit franchisee in the process of building out 3 Tropical Smoothie locations in Florida. On top of what he’s already accomplished he’s also opened his consulting firm, Tanner Consulting. This is one episode you don’t want to miss.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:40] I introduce my guest, Matt Tanner.
  • [1:50] How he got involved in franchising
  • [5:40] Strategic growth and proper management
  • [9:00] All about Tropical Smoothie
  • [14:00] To go to College or learn by working?
  • [17:55] Next steps for Matt
  • [21:30] The art of Acquisition
  • [25:30] Biggest “mistakes” made
  • [30:05] Working with athletes
  • [33:05] Final thoughts and wisdom

Growing up in the industry is the best education

Matt grew up immersed in the industry from day one. His Dad owned and operated an Auntie Anne’s location in Baltimore, Maryland. He recalls—as an 8-year-old—how he would stand outside his Dad’s shop in the local mall and hand out samples of pretzels or lemonade. Which was a smart business decision on his Dad’s part—you can’t turn down a child handing out free food!

Throughout middle school and high school, he and his brother put in 40-50 hour weeks working with his Dad. He truly embraced being involved in the day-to-day and knows it was a huge learning experience. He was born with an entrepreneurial spirit that he wanted to continue to develop. It’s not something that can be forced, but a drive within you.

Grow strategically with the right management in place

One thing that needs to be emphasized is that you must focus on strategic growth. Sometimes it’s far better to take a step back, do your research, and wait for the right location instead of grabbing whatever is available at the time. Too often, entrepreneurs are in a rush to build their empire but watch it crumble because they acted with haste.

Because, let’s be honest, more locations are not necessarily better!

A location that is strategically placed could earn exponentially more than 3 locations poorly placed. Matt’s family had built out locations across the US that weren’t necessarily successful or they were in poor geographical areas. They learned the hard way that’s it’s important to have good infrastructure and the right management in place. Matt talks about this more in-depth in our conversation.

Is college education necessarily part of becoming an entrepreneur?

Both Matt and I agree that a college education isn’t necessary to be successful. You’re spending thousands of dollars on education when you could potentially be gaining the same, if not better, experience working in your chosen field. The curriculum in college classes can be outdated and the business world is changing every day. So why not go work for someone for free instead of amassing thousands of dollars in student debt?

Matt did complete a 4-year degree in Business administration but feels he learned more in his first 6 months running a business then he did in school! While he doesn’t regret the experience and values the networking, he knows he would’ve been further ahead if he had dropped out. His brother dropped out freshman year and it turned out to be a great decision for him. Keep listening as we talk about the opportunities available and how you can weigh your education options.

Matt’s love for acquisition

Six months out of college Matt purchased his first Auntie Anne’s location in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There was a Tropical Smoothie location in the Midtown Shopping Center across from his business that caught his eye. He spent time chatting with the general manager, who then introduced him to the owner. Within one month, Matt purchased his first Tropical Smoothie location.

His biggest piece of advice? Connect with people. Set up meetings, take phone calls, offer help and advice when needed. You’ll often meet people who are struggling, absentee owners, or for various reasons are on the way out of their business. If you’re putting yourself out there, opportunities to acquire another business or another location will find you.

This is just a small picture of everything that Matt and I covered in this episode. You’ll want to hear the rest for more of his story and where he’s headed with future business endeavors—including working with renowned athletes. Check it out!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Matt

Connect With Erik

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