Franchise Opportunities: Experience Not Required

franchise opportunitiesGreg Helwig, Chief Development Officer for Kiddie Academy

In this challenging economy where there are six job seekers for every job opening, many would be surprised to learn that one viable option is to take your employment matters into your own hands by starting a franchise business. For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, starting your own business as part of a larger franchise operation offers the opportunity to take control of your destiny and forge your own path.

As for the type of business you decide to open, another positive factor is that inexperience in your chosen industry does not have to be a barrier to entry. There are a number of sectors poised for continued growth, from food service to fitness to child care.

Joining a franchise organization provides entrepreneurs with crucial technical and industry support -- important components that are not present when starting as an independent operator. An added benefit of working with an established franchisor is assistance in accessing start-up financing.

Be in business for yourself, but not by yourself

Franchising is a great way for people with little or no experience in a particular industry to start (and grow) their own business. It allows you to become independent and pursue your career goals while capitalizing on the experience and support of an established organization.

Important skills and personality traits

People with the following characteristics and background typically make for a good franchisee:

  • The ability to sell and market yourself and your business
  • Self-motivation (even though you are in a partnership with a franchisor, it is still your business and you are responsible for its success)
  • Willingness to be the "face" of your franchise
  • Being extroverted and trustworthy (especially in service-based industries.)

In addition, having a sales, marketing or business background is a plus since you will want to think of creative ways to market your business. While these are not requirements for achieving your desired goals, they are factors that can help lead to thriving business.

Knowing when to take the leap

Starting a new career or job can have its challenges. If you think that you are interested in becoming a franchisee, you first need to ask yourself what you need to be happy. Your ideal lifestyle, career and income are all important factors to consider.

Next you need to think about what industry you would like to be involved in, such as food service, retail or child care. For example, those with a love for children or an education background might consider an educational child-care franchise.

Once you have narrowed down your areas of interest, conduct research to learn about various franchisors in that industry and then call the headquarters to discuss their offerings, requirements and financing options.

Selecting a franchise that will be a true partner

As you get to the final stages of selecting a franchisor to work with, it is important make sure that you are forming a partnership with an organization that works best for you. To ensure that you are getting the most out of your franchisor, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Understand the services the franchisor will provide. One factor to consider is the operational ratio of the franchisor staff to the number of franchisees they oversee.
  • Find out if they offer a protected trade zone to avoid another franchise being located in close proximity to yours.
  • Align with a franchisor that has an established brand. They should have at least 50 franchises and, ideally, a national presence.
  • Meet with the franchisor staff. Make sure to meet the decision-makers of the franchise including the senior staff. Often you can attend a "discovery day" to learn about the franchise program.
  • Look for a franchisor that takes a proactive, not reactive, approach when it comes to supporting their franchisee's success. Some franchisors are only concerned about their franchisee's performance when it is poor. Aligning with a partner that provides the necessary support every step of the way is critical to success.
  • Make sure the franchisor provides growth opportunities. Will there be the possibility of opening up another franchise in a year or two in the general area you have chosen?

If you are frustrated by the current job market or looking for a career in a field that you are passionate about, opening a franchised business may be the right step for you. Working with a franchise operation provides you with the support you need to begin a business along with the tools you need to make it successful. For self-motivated job seekers, franchising allows you to do what you love and ultimately take control of your career.

Greg Helwig is the Chief Development Officer for Kiddie Academy, a national education-based child care franchise. He has worked in the franchise business for more than 30 years.

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