Everyone’s tale of taking the entrepreneurial leap of faith is different. And Jason Otte, one of the newest franchisees for Instant Imprints in Charlotte, NC, has his own tale to tell. A native of the Greater Philadelphia area, his previous career arc includes over 25 years in the banking and finance industry. Working for big-league institutions such as Bank of America, this MBA graduates’ area of expertise focused on analytics and consumer credit risk strategies for the credit cards sector.
Jason Otte certainly enjoyed what anyone would consider a successful and well-paying position, but being an introspective and values-driven individual, he knew something consequential was still missing. “As time went on, I found myself questioning the real value of the work I was doing,” he recalls. “But, like many others, I was addicted to that good paycheck every two weeks. I came to realize that I just wasn’t happy.”
It was during a two-year stint with Honeywell that accelerated his desire to try something entrepreneurial. His final decision to go all-in on becoming an entrepreneur came directly on the heels of a round of corporate layoffs—one of which included Otte. “Our entire division was eliminated, but the sad thing was, we all saw it coming a long way off,” said Jason. “After it happened, I went through the pros and cons of working for someone else. Yes, the money can be good, but the lack of controlling your own destiny isn’t. With my MBA, I had a decent background and understanding of how entrepreneurship worked, but I just didn’t know what it was that I wanted to do going forward.”
Thankfully, Otte got involved with a local placement center and it was there that he caught a seminar from Mike Hall, FranNet’s Consultant for the Carolinas. “I walked right up to him afterward, shook his hand and said ‘I’m in!’” remembers Otte. “I think he was taken aback at first with my split decision. He was kind of like, ‘Hey, let’s slow down and make sure this is a good decision,’ but my mind was already made up.”
Hall and Otte (no 80s band jokes, please) got right down to business, entering the franchise investigative process with a range of assessment exercises. When the results were revealed, Otte was able to better understand his motivations and preferences. “The assessment predicted I would be a better fit for a business-to-business concept,” said Otte. “FranNet’s approach is actually very measured and we whittled down eight possible concepts before setting on Instant Imprints. Otte secured the brand’s Master Area License for western NC and opened the doors to his new branded apparel, custom t-shirts, signage, print services and promotional items store on March 9, 2020. And, in just a short amount of time, he’s come to several realizations and one important conclusion.
“Of course, I’m working hard and putting in more hours than before, but that’s because my initial goal was to match the previous salary I was earning,” says Otte. “But I’ve already accepted that I’m not replacing my paycheck—I’m actually replacing my lifestyle. And it’s working—I’m so much more fulfilled because I’m enjoying what I do now.”
Otte credits Hall and the FranNet process for helping to de-mystify the entrepreneurial journey. “Like a lot of people who harbor the desire to work for themselves, finding the right way to go about it can be overwhelming,” says Otte. “The value of working with a broker is real because they help you navigate the process using a measured approach. And that, in turn, leads to good decision-making.”
As Instant Imprints’ Master Franchisee for western NC, Otte has his eyes on recruiting other franchises within his territory. In time, he’s certain he’ll not only match his previous salary, but surpass it. Only this time around, all of the success and credit will belong to him, and him alone. Otte reflects on this newfound proposition:
“For the first time in over 25 years, I can’t wait to get into the office. Every day is a new opportunity. I’m adding value and 99% of my effort is finally being done for my own benefit. It’s very rewarding.”
For a great addition to Jason Otte’s story as a new franchisee, check out this recent update on the Instant Imprints franchise blog.