The thought of leaving the corporate world for business ownership is both exciting and frightening. These steps can help you decide and prepare.
The new year is here, so many people are taking stock of their personal and professional lives to determine their direction for 2020 and beyond. Will this be the year you finally run that 5K? Is 2020 when you'll tackle that home remodel you've been discussing for years?
Is it finally time to open that franchise business you've dreamed about?
Taking on a 5K is a terrific goal, and home improvement projects bring lots of happiness, but neither is as life-changing as abandoning life as an employee for the thrill of entrepreneurship. That's something I've helped people do for more than two decades now, so I understand how hard it can be to break the chains of traditional employment – especially when that job is in corporate America.
Corporate jobs are often loaded with fringe benefits, making it difficult for employees to leave. Health insurance, retirement plans and company vehicles are just a few of the perks I've heard candidates discuss as reasons they were apprehensive about going out on their own. I like these perks as much as anyone, but I'm not going to limit my potential as a business owner to keep them. And with a whopping 30.2 million small businesses open in America today, there are obviously others that agree.
If you're at that point in your life where you're thinking seriously about franchise business ownership, here are some great places to start.
1. Decide what's important to you.
Certainly, everyone wants to make money in a business venture, but true success is how the business helps you design the lifestyle you've always wanted. Answering these questions will help you narrow your focus and select the franchise model that works for you:
- Are you the type of person who wants to build a business empire, or are you looking for something smaller and easier to manage?
- Do you imagine yourself playing a role in the daily operations of the business, or are you hoping to hire people for the day-to-day management while you handle the back-end operations?
- How important is it to have your weekends free? How about being home in time for dinner every night?
- Are you excited to go to a place of business every day, or do you prefer a remote environment?
- Is there a personal or philanthropic motivation you want to consider with the good or service you provide?
2. Address your fear.
You don't have to scream it from a mountaintop; just have the courage to acknowledge that you're afraid to leave the security of a job for the uncertainty of small business ownership. Ask yourself what specifically scares you. Is it financial? Are you overwhelmed by the possibilities? Unsure where to start? Do you have self-doubt?
All of this is normal, much more normal than having no fear at all. You owe it to yourself to face the fear even if you don't decide to become an entrepreneur. Learn what it takes financially to open a franchise. Understand how to narrow the field and select the right business for yourself. Franchisors look for people whose skills match up well with their franchise system and offer initial and ongoing support. That way, neither you or the franchisor will have any doubts about your ability to succeed as one of their franchise owners.
3. Speak with your family.
Franchise business ownership is an amazing life change. It will allow you to take control of not just your professional life, but your personal one as well. Discussing your desires to be a franchise business owner with your family at the beginning of the process could alleviate your fears and generate support from loved ones. You'll be able to set your own hours, giving you more time for family. You'll be making the hiring decisions, which could involve bringing family on board. You might even decide to go all in and make your entire franchise business family owned and operated. Whatever you choose will impact the people who live in your home, so let them in on what's happening.
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4. Learn from your community.
Most people know at least one business owner, whether it's a friend or family member. Even if you don't, there are resources in your community to help you learn about the business culture. Joining your local chamber of commerce or just attending some of its events will introduce you to local business owners.
If there's a local business you know has a good reputation, spend time there. Sign up for its email communications. You could even visit the owner during their downtime to learn about their experiences. Large communities will have offices of economic development teeming with great information to help you determine what types of businesses can thrive in your area.
5. Consider your finances.
No, you don't have to figure out exactly how you're going to purchase a franchise business. That's something you can work through with either your franchise consultant or the franchise system you're considering. However, this is a great time to get your personal finances in order so you can understand your current financial position. Many franchise systems have financial benchmarks in place to ensure they are considering qualified candidates capable of purchasing and operating a franchise. You'll want to determine your net worth (assets minus liabilities) and your level of liquid capital (readily convertible assets, like cash or savings accounts). There are many financing options to consider, like 401(k) rollovers and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. All of this information will help you determine which franchise systems best suit you financially.
6. Try the best of both worlds.
Ever heard of semiabsentee franchise ownership? This is by far one of the most popular ways to enter the franchising world, because it allows owners to spend only 10-15 hours per week working on their business without having to work in their business's physical location. In other words, you can keep your day job and still be a business owner. Another option is to keep your job through the early period of your franchise ownership, then expand your franchise business to multiple units while enjoying more free time for the people and things you love.
7. Get help from an expert.
One of the most famous lines from the franchise industry is that franchising is about being in business for yourself, but not by yourself. The same is true for franchise business exploration. You don't have to sift through more than 3,000 franchise brands via an internet search to figure out which one is right for you. Franchise business consultants like myself help candidates determine what they want from a franchise business and how their skills match up with different systems. Best of all, there is no cost to franchise candidates for working with franchise business consultants. As with real estate agents, if a franchise business consultant helps a candidate find something they decide to buy, great! If not, that's fine as well. Either way, the services will never cost you a dime.
Franchise ownership is a terrific adventure for people invested in maximizing their professional potential with the system and support of experts. Utilizing these tips will help ensure your franchise journey stays on the right path.