Consider your past jobs and determine what you liked best and least about them; then make a list of your strengths, weaknesses, experiences and interests. Are you comfortable managing others or would you prefer to work alone? What hours are you willing to work while the business ramps up and what lifestyle expectations do you have after the business is established? How do you feel about selling and the sales process? By starting with a list of what you have to offer and what you need from a business, you can create a strategy and model for your research.
2. Don’t focus on the “widget”!
Most people start looking for businesses based on the products they enjoy. “Well, I love donuts. How about a donut franchise?” And after spending days or weeks of research on Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts and others, the individual may find he doesn’t have the required capital, the territory he wants is not available, he’s never managed employees, he hates mornings and he’d have to give up weekends. Focus more on what you want out of the business versus the product or service offered.
3. Keep an open mind.
As you start your research, it may be difficult to see past the product to learn more about the business model. The business model is the most important part of your research. This is what will give you want you want; now and in the future. Make sure to learn the income potential, schedule flexibility, skills and backgrounds of the franchisees, and how the business relates to your goals.
Do you think Wayne Huizenga minds owning a garbage business?!
4. Look for the Franchise “Sales guy”.
Hopefully you don’t find him. Most people assume that franchise companies are trying to SELL them a franchise. The best franchises, however, are interviewing you to make sure that you have the attributes needed to be a strong owner. These companies engage seriously in a process of “mutual due diligence”. Franchises are only as successful as their franchisees, so they are very selective when it comes to finding the right partners! Look for companies that AWARD, not SELL, franchises.
5. Think about the start-up and your finances.
Most businesses don’t make a strong profit their first year. How do you plan to finance the business and live as you build the business? How much money do you need for your personal finances monthly/yearly? What was your most recent salary? How much did you take home after taxes? Do you have other sources of income? Do you want to reinvest in the business to grow it or make a profit as quickly as possible?
6. Begin with the end in mind.
Focus on your goals. Make a list of where you see yourself in 2, 5, 10 years, etc. Very successful franchisees start a business with the end in mind-an exit strategy. Where do you want to get to? Figure this out first, and then evaluate the franchises to see if they have taken their franchisees to similar places. Will this business help you to accomplish your short-term and long-term goals?
7. Know that the Boogie man loves to squash dreams.
As you begin your franchise research, you’ll be excited and eager to achieve your dreams. As you dive into the analytical research, you can’t escape the emotional effects of making a life change. This is a big decision, and it’s not one to take lightly. Everyone experiences anxiety and nervousness as they do their research. Think of any big decision that you’ve made in your life; it probably didn’t come easy. The best things don’t. When you get scared, your instincts will tell you to run away. The Boogie man loves to squash dreams. Don’t let him. Knowledge overcomes fear! Take control of the situation and learn more. Dive into your research, don’t stop. The more you learn, the more you’ll know if this franchise is the one for you, or not.
8. Do your homework-talk to lots of franchisees.
The best part of franchises is that they have an ‘open-book policy’, meaning that at the appropriate time in the process, you are able to call franchisees and learn about their experiences. They were in your shoes at one point and needed to learn more about the business, and other franchisees took time for them. They’ll take time for you, as well. Be respectful of their time, but use them as your best research tool. They’re living this business every day-learn from them!
9. Beware of crabs in the bucket.
It’s human nature to ask for advice from others that we respect. This can be very helpful or disastrous. Make sure that the people that you take advice from have experience in the business you are researching. There is an old adage, i.e., “Check the fruit on the tree”, meaning make sure the person to whom you listen knows the subject they are talking about. Many people who care about you will take the most cautious route when giving advice, it is human nature. This is why most only dream about owning their own business one day. Seek advice that will give you a proper balance when making decisions.
10. Make a decision and move forward.
Making a decision can be scary, yet exhilarating. You’re in control of your future now. Know that you’ve done your research, and have faith in your decision. Say yes or no and move forward with confidence in your future.