Starting out on your own, Should you “go it alone”, or select a franchise?

It happens to nearly everyone at some point in their life: The desire to start a business of their own.

The motivation varies quite a bit from person to person, but common reasons include: The need to escape a grueling schedule, workload, commute, an over-bearing boss, or just the need to feel more appreciated and to have one's rewards more closely coupled with the amount of effort put in.

When I started my own business many years ago, the motivation was pure and simple. I was excited by an interesting technology that produced a novel product which I felt had a ready market in the community in where I lived.

I chose a fairly tough road though, for I had technical R&D to do, production processes to work out, suppliers to source, packaging to design and hardest of all, I had to introduce a brand new product into a market that hadn't seen anything quite like it before.

After years of hard work I found myself so busy that I hardly had time to breathe and, in the surest sign of all that I was becoming successful, competitors started entering the market and copying almost everything I had done.

Although I don't regret any of it, I often wonder if taking the hard road really is the best option. There are, after all, literally thousands of successful business models out there in the form of franchises, which can be replicated successfully by doing little more than following a written set of instructions and with the added benefit of a personal coach being on hand to answer questions and help you out of difficulty, if needed.

Oh, did I mention that you will still have to work hard? But not many of us are frightened about that, especially if it is in your own business.

Franchises or franchise-like businesses are everywhere. In fact franchising is growing at such an increasingly rapid rate that it is easy to suggest that the take-up rate of new franchises will one day exceed that of non-franchise businesses.

The Benefits of Franchising

For the would-be new business owner this produces a whole new set of problems. There are so many franchises available, how do you select one? Is it best to go with the tried-and-true - the big names that everybody knows, like McDonald's and Subway? Or are you better off hitching your fortunes to a new concept, which usually will have far more manageble investment requirements.

It is not an easy decision, but one which you must take with the utmost care. Your savings from your past efforts and the future of you and your family are at stake here. Tread carefully.

Finding a Suitable Franchise

What is the best way to find a franchise? Contrary to what you might think, using the search engines is not really the best. You are going to be overloaded with too much choice and too much repetition.

You are far better off visiting one of the many web portals that organize franchise opportunities in a systematic way. In many of them you will be able to search by the investment amount required, the market they operate in and whether they are home-based or not. Then, rather than contacting all of the franchisors individually, you can fill-in your contact details once only on the web portal, which will then pass on your request to the franchisors for them to contact you, or send you free information packs.

Selecting a web portal to use isn't as hard as selecting a franchise, but be aware that some portals only list franchises that have paid for advertising and so the choice they are presenting may be limited and skewed by self-interest..

So good luck in your search and please investigate as many franchisors as you possibly can before making a decision. The importance of finding one that best suits your capabilities, ambitions, budget and lifestyle can't be over-stated.


Michael Tunstill is the founder of the web portal Every Franchisewhich, with its powerful franchise selection tools, Franchise News and Franchise Blog aims to be a comprehensive source for all things franchising.

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