How running franchise helps one man’s work-life balance

Peter Harris, who lives near Stoke, runs a franchise of business support network The Alternative Board, also known as TAB.

running a franchise


Peter Harris runs a TAB – The Alternative Board – franchise in North Staffordshire. His role encompasses supporting local business owners to help run their companies through monthly peer-to-peer ‘Board’ meetings and 1-2-1 advisory coaching sessions.

Here Peter explains why he chose to leave the comfort of corporate employment to become his own boss…

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I have always been passionate about supporting other businesses and helping them to grow. I spent over 20 years working for large corporations including BT, KPMG and IMI Plc, in risk and compliance roles.

I exited BT in 2020 with some capital and decided, with three young children, that working for myself would offer a better work/life balance. This was before the pandemic when working from home was rare in the corporate world!

What made you want to start a franchise in the first place?

I became interested in franchising because my children were aged 13, 10 and 6 and I was keen to both start a business with support, but also to achieve a better work/life balance. I wanted to plan my work around my family, as well as run a successful business.

I really liked the idea of building a business by using a proven successful business model. I found TAB – The Alternative Board, which supports small businesses to grow by providing exactly the kind of expertise that I had built my career on. TAB presented the opportunity for me to make a genuine difference to local businesses and that really appealed to me.  These are SMEs that don’t have a Board of Directors but can gain the valuable insights and opportunities that a traditional Board provides through coming together to share experience and knowledge.

How does running a franchise work for you in terms of work-life balance?

Pretty well because I can now shape my work around family commitments. My kids are all sporty – the boys play cricket and football and my daughter does gymnastics – so their diaries are quite hectic. TAB allows me the flexibility to be fully involved in their lives and I can even drop my daughter off at school which I love.

Having a community of people to talk to through TAB must be useful, tell us about what it’s like and what you get out of it?

TAB puts a lot of effort into its community, it’s central to the business ethos, both in terms of supporting members and each other as franchise owners. The company hosts regular learning events where I get to hear from my franchise peers and gain the benefit of their experiences. Franchisees also participate in our own peer Boards which I find invaluable in keeping me accountable and moving forward.

In terms of the community within my local area, I love hosting ‘Alternative Boards’. Stuffy corporate boardrooms are out and I often organise our meetings in unique locations. I’ve hosted Boards outside, in a gastropub, under a perspex dome and even at Middleport pottery museum in our local city, Stoke.

I run two ‘Boards’ each month, a mix of non-competing business owners varying from web developers to recruitment companies and veterinarians. Everyone values the opportunity to talk openly about their businesses and glean advice and support from their peers. TAB has just launched a Recession Ready Hub should there be a downturn and this has already been touched on in our meetings. What I do know is that they will all continue to benefit from the support and positive momentum that being a member of TAB brings. There’s a real sense of community spirit within our Boards that ensures whatever the challenges members face, they know they are not going through it alone.

What’s your five-year plan, how do you see yourself moving forward in terms of your business, but also in terms of how you live your life alongside the business?

My plan is to continue to grow the business by hosting more Boards. I also really enjoy the 1-2-1 coaching side of TAB and I know the demand is there. As the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top, but with TAB, small business owners don’t need to go it alone, that’s why the support of these independent boards is so valuable.

Read more:

Employers considering Xmas recruitment perks

SMEs advised to get recession-ready

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