Many entrepreneurs wish to start a business based on an idea they have that they believe fills a gap in the market – or creates a new market. However, in many cases, you might wish to start a business but lack a viable opportunity in your location. This is where franchises come in. The basic idea is simple enough; you pay an established company for the right to use their business model and brand and run your own business under their umbrella. Some of the biggest commercial names run on this model, but how do you know if this would be a good fit for you?
The main advantage of a franchise is that you don’t need to establish your business in a competitive marketplace. One of the main strategies of a new business will be to run effective marketing campaigns, which can be time-consuming, costly and a lot of work. With a franchise, you have that brand awareness in place already, and the marketing burden is largely taken off your shoulders. There is still a requirement for a degree in marketing, depending on the contract you sign, in which case you could look at social media marketing for franchises for example. The other key advantage is that the business model, including supply chain, IT systems, and personnel management is already in place, saving a huge amount of work compared to starting a business from scratch.
The first thing that might spring to mind is the initial investment required for a franchise. This can be a sizeable sum for a major chain, and you will need to have a sound source of funding to be able to take on a franchise. However, before you dismiss the idea on these grounds, consider how much you would need to invest as an individual if you were starting from scratch. Factor in the costs of running marketing campaigns to the set-up costs and you may find that this puts the franchise cost into perspective.
One main issue is not so much the finance, because to start a business you will need investment anyway; rather it is your perception of the loss of autonomy. You will be bound by your contract to operate within the company regulations, normally with very little freedom to go your own way. Franchisors want their customers to be essentially unaware that the branch they are in is a franchise, so if you’re in an establishment in Delaware, it will be exactly the same as the one in Richmond, or Boulder. If you would find it hard to function with this lack of control, then franchising is probably not your best option. If, however, it is the challenge of being productive and profitable that is your passion, you could find franchising a perfect fit.
When considering the pros and cons of franchise opportunities, remember that with so many potential franchises to evaluate, there will be corresponding variations in the degree of control you have, so there could well be a business model out there that fits you.