With the onset of the coronavirus, many people have gotten a taste of working from home. We've traded in our commutes for Zoom meetings and adapted to a less-structured workplace. For lots of folks, the pros and cons of a home office have become more clear. Having gotten used to this lifestyle, many of us dread going back to a rigid 9-to-5 lifestyle. Some of us, unfortunately, won't be able to go back because of layoffs. Either way, many people will be thinking of making a change. During tough economic times, people have looked to franchising for job replacement. In any economic climate, franchising offers an attractive option for corporate refugees and folks who seek a better work-life balance.
Now, more than ever, franchise seekers will take a longer look at home-based models. The lifestyle that comes with owning a home-based franchise may seem carefree. Without the set hours of a brick-and-mortar business and no daily commute, you can enjoy a flexible schedule and have more time for yourself, right? Yes, it's possible, but not everyone is cut out to run a home-based business, and not every home-based franchise owner spends his or her day in a bathrobe sitting at a computer.
In fact, most home-based franchises require you to be out and about, interacting with the community. The success of a home-based business depends on the owner's efforts. There's a certain amount of hustle required.
Here are five questions to ask yourself to see if this type of franchise is for you.
1. Are you self-motivated?
One of the biggest benefits of a home-based franchise is low overhead. There's no expensive leases or build-outs to worry about. But without a storefront, you will need to find ways to get the word out about your business. After all, customers are not going to come knocking at your door. They need to know your service is available.
Depending on the type of business, advertising and promotion can be done in different ways. Luckily, with a franchise, you are stepping into a proven system. The corporate team has guidelines on how to generate business. But, remember, it is your business, and it's up to you to follow up on leads and do the legwork.
Many service-based businesses get leads through Google Ad Words or through websites like Home Advisor. Consider the expense of these services, and ask yourself if are you able and willing to follow up on leads right away. With some franchises, such as personal training services, billboard or newspaper advertising helps drum up business. Unless the franchise system has a call center, you are responsible for scheduling appointments and following up on leads. The success of other types of home-based franchises, such as school enrichment programs, relies on the local relationships you make. Will you be motivated to go out and visit with community leaders and school officials? Are you willing to exhibit at local trade shows, participate in chamber of commerce meetings or attend community events? Home-based business owners should be driven to find business.
2. Can you set boundaries at home?
Is your house too chaotic to conduct business? Setting expectations and boundaries with family equals sanity for home-based business owners. For example, your business computer shouldn't be used for your son's homework. A "do not disturb" sign on your office door prevents family members from barging in and interrupting important meetings. Will your clients hear kids screaming in the background? Day care arrangements should be worked out ahead of time with your spouse. Your toddler might be adorable, but having him along on a sales call won't necessarily help close that deal. By agreeing to ground rules ahead of time, everyone in the house will know what's okay, and what is off-limits.
3. Can you ignore distractions during work time?
If you cave into every distraction at home, you'll never get anything done for your business. Can you ignore that messy kitchen or exploding laundry pile? If the dog is always barking, will you be able to focus? Without a lot of structure, home-based franchises are not for everyone. If you're not super-focused by nature, ask yourself if you'll be able to separate business responsibilities from household ones. If the answer is "no," you might be better off with a more structured option. The key is to be honest with yourself.
4. Can you set your own schedule and deadlines?
Setting a plan for each day with goals and deadlines is the best way to stay ahead of your home-based business. Juggling multiple roles and tasks is much easier with a plan in place. Can you create a schedule for yourself and stick to it? When exploring an opportunity, see if the franchisor has a recommended schedule, or if other franchisees can give you examples of how they manage their day-to-day tasks. One of the best parts of franchise ownership is being able to share best practices. Understand what success means in the franchise you're considering and ask yourself if you are up for the challenge.
5. Do you know when to stop working?
While getting motivated may be difficult for some home-based franchise owners, putting an end to the workday can be a problem for others. Since, as a home-based franchise owner, your home doubles as your office, the reminder of work is always present. Will you be tempted to keep burning the midnight oil? Are you able to keep regular hours and enjoy a healthy work-life balance? At some point, you shut down to close the computer and have time for yourself.
Being able to compartmentalize is key.
Finding the perfect home-based business
Home-based businesses are great for many reasons, but they are not for everyone, and they all work differently. Before you decide on one, make sure it will work for you. It's important to do your due diligence before any franchise purchase. There are many resources available to guide you through the process. Web research, visiting trade shows and subscribing to franchise publications are all great places to start.
To help narrow your choices, you can seek the help of a certified franchise consultant. Just like with real estate agents, their services are free. These industry professionals help aspiring franchise owners find opportunities that work with their lifestyles, interests and financial situations. With your background in mind, a franchise consultant will show you opportunities you may have never considered. Say you have a sales and marketing background. It may seem natural to stick to B2B franchises. A franchise consultant will show you more options that will play on your skill set in industries that you may otherwise overlook. Your sales experience could work with a home-based educational or home services brand. Even if you don't have industry-specific skills, the key to being a successful franchise owner for many brands may lie in your soft skills rather than your resume. Franchise consultants will help you look outside of the box.
With so many options out there, there is likely to be a home-based business that's perfect for you. Take the time to explore and find the one that best suits your lifestyle and priorities.