In the January 2005 issue of Entrepreneur magazine, WSI Internet Consulting and
Education was once again awarded the distinction of the world's #1 Internet
Business Franchise and saw its overall rank jump a record 70 spots, to #53 in
the prestigious Franchise 500. This was not surprising to industry insiders as
WSI has been ranked #1 for four years running. Nonetheless, it solidifies WSI's
position as the premier franchise of its kind and a franchise superstar in the
broader sense. So, how did this upstart from Toronto, Canada become a leader in
its field and the envy of so many other franchises? We asked WSI President, Ron
McArthur, why he believes WSI is such a great business opportunity and his
answer was quick and simple: "WSI is a franchise based on a proven
business model and an industry that has limitless growth potential [the
But to fully understand his answer we thought it best to dig for the greater context behind WSI's continued success. So, we asked him to explain, "Why WSI" by answering the following 10 questions. Read on for his enlightening answers.
Who is WSI?
WSI Internet Consulting & Education is the leading Internet Business Franchise in the world. As a franchisor, we train and support franchisees, certifying them as Internet Consultants (ICs). As Internet business experts, our ICs then provide business owners in their local communities with affordable Internet Solutions tailored to the unique operational requirements of each business. Our focus is helping small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop and implement an online strategy to expand their business and overall profitability. This includes the implementation of Internet based technology to support internal and external activities including website development (design, construction and maintenance), document management, e-Commerce and Internet marketing. We have been helping businesses succeed online since 1995 and now have over 1000 Internet Consultants globally.
How has WSI become a leader? And stayed a leader?
WSI became the leading provider of Internet Solutions to the SME market by focusing on the individual needs of our clients. This means developing customized Internet Solutions that help them to grow their business, increase profits, and reduce day-to-day operating costs through automation. By extensively researching our target market of SMEs, and building upon the lessons learned from a decade in business, WSI has developed a system that enables our franchisees to tailor our product and service offerings to help their clients address the unique challenges they face, regardless of their industry or previous experience with Internet technology.
What's important to remember is that at WSI we don't just design websites; we approach the Internet from a business perspective, analyzing all the angles and developing solutions that will produce measurable results for our clients.
What is WSI's proven system?
To provide our clients with unique Internet Solutions that work, we designed an exclusive development and delivery framework, the Internet Solutions Lifecycle. This patent-pending process uses a proven, repeatable formula that our ICs use to ensure the success of each and every client. In the first step of the Lifecycle, the Internet Business Analysis (IBA), a client's business needs are assessed and the areas of a client's business that can benefit from Internet technology are pinpointed. A unique Internet Solution is then developed and built by one of WSI's Global Production Centers - strategically located in low cost, high-tech regions, enabling WSI ICs to provide their clients with economical, feature-rich Internet Solutions.
Unlike other Internet Solution providers, the role of the WSI IC continues long after implementation. Our unique consultative approach ensures every client is provided with ongoing support including: technical support, useful reporting and monitoring of the success of the solution implemented and assistance with business initiatives such as marketing and training opportunities all creating an ongoing stream of recurring revenue for our ICs and many happy clients eager to refer their trusted Internet expert to colleagues and friends.
What is an Internet Consultant?
WSI Internet Consultants (ICs) are trusted business advisors, much like a lawyer, accountant or stock broker. Their objective is to become a true business partner that advises on the most appropriate Internet Solution to help clients realize their full profit potential. Our franchisees tend to be business people from diverse backgrounds who are trained and certified as Internet business experts; independently owning and operating their WSI franchise. A detailed technical background is not required, just a basic understanding of the Internet, the right attitude and a willingness to learn and follow our proven system.
ICs show businesses how to grow online. They don't simply design websites; they build profitable, customized Internet Solutions leveraging the expertise of a large network of suppliers, designers and support staff who work to ensure that every WSI IC's end-client receives the very best Internet Solution.
The Internet moves at a breakneck pace and this can seem daunting, but WSI franchisees are provided with extensive training and support - they are never alone in business. Before certified as an Internet Consultant a franchise applicant is trained remotely and in-person. Dedicated personal coaches then help our newest franchisees through the critical first 90 days of their business, followed by considerable training opportunities (three times weekly at minimum) to further ensure a WSI IC stays ahead of the competition.
Why does WSI focus on the SME market?
Globally, the SME market is the largest and fastest growing business market. In the U.S. SMEs make up nearly 85 percent of the 5.6 million businesses in operation (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). As such, this market represents the greatest opportunities for profit today and in the future. WSI also focuses on this market because it has long been overlooked due to the high cost of developing and implementing Internet technologies that was once the norm. To accomplish this, we have built an exclusive network of Production Centers creating economies of scale that provide WSI ICs with affordable Internet Solutions for their clients so that they may service this extremely large market with Internet related products and services that were once outside of their reach.
Moreover, SMEs tend to have the flexibility to quickly and easily adapt to new innovations such as Internet technologies, often resulting in appreciable results for their business. This rapid Return on Investment, fuels their commitment to expanding their Internet services, making them an exciting and rewarding customer group to work with.
Why is the Internet important to business?
Since its inception, the Internet has held infinite possibilities for use as a business tool. In fact, using Internet technologies to support and enhance business activities has been standard practice for major corporations for some time now. This model of business is most often referred to as 'e-Business' and is characterized by more effective and efficient operations at reduced cost. Large businesses were the first to implement e-Business, and profit online, and they did so with little competition because of the high costs once associated with acquiring the technical infrastructure to enable e-Business. Times have changed, however. Following WSI's proven system and taking advantage of our exclusive partnerships worldwide, our ICs are able to help SMEs stake their claim to a portion of the vast online profits that exist. The greatest strength of the Internet is its ability to act as the great equalizer. Big business may have had the advantage early on, but with WSI every business now has the same opportunity to strengthen their brand, market awareness and operational functions.
Due to the mass adoption of the Internet globally, businesses that don't implement Internet technologies, including having a website, tend to lack the credibility of competitors who do. And, these businesses generally fail to reach their true profit potential. For instance, according to Jupiter Research, online retail sales in the U.S. reached $65 billion in 2004 and will grow to over $117 billion by 2008. Businesses that don't take advantage of e-Commerce are missing their chance to take a portion of the enormous profits expected - this number doesn't even include the profits gained via the benefits an online presence brings to traditional retail outlets.
Further proof of the Internet's necessity is evident from those benefiting the most online - small businesses. Interland recently surveyed a selection of small businesses in the U.S. and found that 81 percent of participants reported that their website generates leads to their business with 77 percent believing the Internet has made their business healthier and more competitive (Interland, 2004). Businesses, regardless of their size, simply cannot afford not to be online.
How does a WSI IC compete with other similar providers?
WSI doesn't really compete. As the leading Internet Solutions provider to SMEs we set the pace. With our worldwide production capacity and proven Internet Solutions Lifecycle, we're able to offer high-quality Internet Solutions with value for price that other development firms simply can't match. And to ensure we always stay ahead of the pack we consistently evolve our network, introducing new suppliers with innovative product and service offerings. This enables our Internet Consultants to provide their clients with advanced offerings, rich in functionality, at price points the average business owner can afford.
How has WSI performed in the U.S.?
The U.S. is WSI's largest market. Our IC businesses are growing due to changes in the legislative landscape and the proliferation of the Internet and Internet-based technologies - and they are poised to experience even more success. Internet penetration stands at nearly 75 percent in this market with over 124 million people online (Neilsen/NetRatings, 2004) due largely to the availability of broadband and the adoption of e-Business and e-Commerce.
The CAN-SPAN Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) passed in January 2004 and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and its addendum plan the National Do Not Call Registry in effect, spammers and sellers who violate the terms of these policies are subject to criminal penalties and/or fines. These acts give consumers added privacy protection and defense against fraudulent telemarketers. However, since these telemarketing regulations affect all businesses they have necessitated that legitimate businesses find an alternative way to drive sales - the Internet is the way. Permission-based email marketing campaigns are increasingly prevalent and sophisticated and have proven to be extremely successful. Not only is Internet marketing a far more cost effective way of promoting products, new technology is constantly providing exciting and innovative new options for how businesses can get their message out to expand their market. As Internet professionals with a keen understanding of new trends and access to the latest technologies for Internet marketing, WSI Internet Consultants can help any business develop and operate a successful Internet marketing campaign.
Why is now the best time to be in the business?
The WSI business opportunity has remained successful throughout the many growth phases of the Internet. We've seen the rise and fall of the dot-coms and the explosive growth of e-Commerce. We've always been confident about the potential of the Internet industry and our role within it. The proven system we have developed is viable regardless of economical conditions because e-Business is all about improving efficiencies.
WSI remains committed to innovation and 2005 is set to be a particularly exciting year for us. We're focusing on continued improvements and enhancements to our e-marketing training and solutions, and expanding our Internet Consultants' reach across the SME market in the U.S.
Now is the best time to be in the business because the Internet has reached a critical stage in its growth. It's an essential part of doing business in today's global economy, and succeeding online is now more affordable and therefore more attainable than ever before.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a part of the WSI network?
There are many rewarding aspects to being a part of the global WSI team. Not only are we the #1 Internet Franchise in existence, we are unlike any other franchise opportunity available today. Once trained in our patent-pending proven system, a franchisee works to assist business owners in their community to grow and prosper online. As business owners themselves, WSI Internet Consultants are intimately aware of the challenges their clients face, which increases their ability to advise and guide them towards success.
A WSI franchise requires very little overhead, and no inventory or staffing costs, making it an attractive option for anyone who's looking for a rewarding business opportunity. As a franchisor WSI provides the most comprehensive training and certification available to franchisees, extensive business and technical support and the collective sharing of expertise across our network. Each time a WSI IC succeeds, the entire network benefits because WSI is committed to advancing innovation from our franchisee ranks by sharing the best practices of each IC.
But ultimately, the most rewarding thing about being a member of the WSI team is that our franchisees know that they are providing an important service and adding real value to an SME's business-a growing yet eager market whose time to join the Internet Revolution has come.