Matthew Hale | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Matthew Hale


Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Modern Acupuncture is a new, national franchise concept focused on making acupuncture more accessible. The company has awarded regional developer licenses for 25 locations in Arizona and Las Vegas, with similar awards pending in four additional states.

The Mistake:

I decided not to listen to my family's advice.

When I was 22 years old, I was at the University of New Mexico, majoring in business. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. The first opportunity that I had was at a franchise restaurant concept that had just opened in New Mexico. I wanted to get into the restaurant space and be a franchisee. Some of my family had owned restaurants in Albuquerque and they told me not to do it. They said the restaurant business is very difficult, the margins are very small and you’re basically buying yourself a job.

I was 22 and decided not to listen to them. I thought I could tackle it. I raised close to a half-million dollars to buy the franchise license and open the restaurant concept once I graduated. It all came together; I had the business plan and the funds to open. So, I moved to Chandler, Arizona, and oversaw the construction. I hired about 35-40 people and we opened our doors in 2003. 

I soon learned that the advice I was given – that I was going to buy myself a job – was exactly right. I was working 65-70 hours a week, seven days a week. I learned a heck of a lot in the five-year period in which I was a restaurant owner.

I was 22 and decided not to listen to them. I thought I could tackle it.

The Lesson:

Looking back, it really shaped my work ethic today. It gave me a great perspective on being a franchisee and how important the communication is from the franchiser to the franchisee. In addition to that, it taught me that the franchiser needs to embrace the relationship with the franchisee. You’re creating a family atmosphere in which you all work together.  

I didn’t make a heck of a lot of money in the deal. I probably could have gotten out of college with my business degree, done something else and made a ton of money. But I think it gave me a life lesson, in terms of how I look at things from the point of view of a franchisee.

Now, in my position as the CEO of a franchiser, I have that perspective. I know what it’s like to be working within your facility, whether it’s a restaurant or in healthcare – it doesn’t matter. A good franchiser builds the systems and the tools and creates a business in the box for the franchisees. When they commit their investment, they’re ready to hit the ground running.

Follow Modern Acupuncture on Twitter at @MA_modernacu.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hale

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