Franchise, Start Up or MLM? Ask These Questions Before You Buy

Franchise, startup or mlm?

Dreaming of Being Your Own Boss?

You’ve heard the song, “Take this job and shove it!”  It has always been the battle cry of new business in America.  According to a CNN/Gallop poll, approximately 70% of all Americans say they would like to own a business.  However, when you consider the number of all new businesses including low cost direct sales companies, network marketing and multi-level-marketing companies, less than 15% of our population ever venture out to become business owners.

Sadly, Americans are not overwhelmingly risk takers, even when considering the low cost, low risk MLM alternative to buying a franchise or the more expensive and riskier startup.

Why Most People Don’t Start Businesses

Most people are willing to work hard for success.   It is said that the definition of an entrepreneur is someone who is willing to trade a 40 hour work week for an 80 hour work week.  So maybe it’s the “hard work”  that kills the dream in would-be entrepreneurs.  I don’t think so.  In my experience talking to thousands of new franchise candidates, I have come to believe it’s a fear of failure that causes most capable men and women to never even give it a go!

However,  The Future Looks Promising

Franchising has rebounded since the recession of 2009.  The nation’s franchisors are opening new units at a pace of about 12,000 a year according to the International Franchise Association’s 2015 Economic Impact Report.  In addition, according to the Direct Selling Association, network marketing membership went from 18.2 million to 20.2 million in 2015.  That’s 5,500 new people every day in the United States joining a network marketing company! Furthermore, that number is probably much higher when considering the number of network marketing companies that are not members of the DSA.  These numbers are not even counted!

3 Things to Know When You Are Going Into Business

There is an old business adage that states, “If you fail to plan, you can plan on failing.”  People fail in business because either they fail to diligently research a new business opportunity, or there are simply no verifiable facts to analyze.

When I work with a client trying to find a great business opportunity, we focus our research in 3 primary areas:

  1. Is the unit level economic model of this business proving out over time for the vast majority of its participants?
  2. What is the intrinsic value in buying this particular concept/model?
  3. Are you a culture fit for this business?

How do we uncover the answers to these questions?   Research, analysis and validation.  Let’s look broadly at three business categories from the perspective of the three questions above:

  1. Business Start Up
  2. MLM (network marketing/direct sales)
  3. Franchise

Independent Business Start Ups

First, let’s take a look at independent business start ups.   In Neil Patel’s 2015 Forbes article, he states that 90% of business start ups fail in the US.   This number is widely distributed throughout business circles.   But this group of failures is made up of the risk takers, true entrepreneurs, and business pioneers.   These entrepreneurs are willing to venture into uncharted markets at the risk of losing it all for the slightest opportunity to hit the jackpot.  Many fail, yet many shake off the dust and jump right back into a new venture.

These business models are rarely validated prior to the investment.  Typically, there is no verifiable information on average revenues, true costs or expected profit margins because they are not following an established model.  These are the trail blazers.

Most Americans are not pioneers, but God bless those who are.  By creating new and successful business models through determination and failure, they will pave the way for the smart franchise buyers of the future.

What About the MLM?

Millions of Americans are sold the dream of an MLM.  The industry proudly touts the magnificent lives of the leadership.   You see the the luxury cars, huge mansions, extravagant vacations, and their “six figure incomes.”  Lives full of grandeur are held out as the carrot of success,  and some actually achieve it.  The Direct Selling Association states that the drop-out rate in MLMs is right around 50% annually.  The unveiled truth is that the vast majority make little headway toward the larger goal of building a sustainable business.

MLMs are very low cost/low risk endeavors.  Typically the barrier to entry is simply a couple hundred bucks.   But when you try to do the necessary research and validation to truly prove out the model realistically, where do you go?  Your friend or neighbor who is trying to “recruit” you into this fabulous opportunity isn’t what you would consider a “success.”   Of course, they show you pictures of what their glamorous “success” looks like,  and you may even get the opportunity to meet a person who certainly appears to be a “success.”   The thing is,  there is never any actual data on the average revenue generated to support the expected travel costs, the cost of marketing products let alone the mandatory “tools” of the trade.

Are MLMs Really a Wise Choice? 

What is the intrinsic value of an MLM?  Let’s look at the pros and cons.   Normally, in an MLM type business, the entry “kit” includes a package of products priced out at “wholesale” pricing.   That’s good.   If I am going to represent a line of products, I better be familiar with them.   Does the offering include any training?  Typically,  there is very little if any.  Does it include access to IT systems, operating manuals and/or marketing plans?  Sometimes, but most are not very sophisticated.  Is a tried and true business plan being offered?  Is there an opportunity to write one?  In order to make a rational decision on a business venture, the wise thing to do would be to study the model intelligently prior to committing money, time and energy into the offering?  Normally, all there is is word of mouth and a few comments on the internet creating the perceived validation.  Which admittedly is not my idea of good research and analytics.  In conclusion, due to the difficulty in determining value in the MLM model, it would be hard for me to recommend this option.

Finally,  Franchising

Only in franchising is there a Federal Trade Commission mandate that every franchise sold in the US have an itemized full disclosure document.  It is required that every candidate interested in buying a franchise be given this document at least two weeks prior to any money exchanging hands.  Typically the research and validation process takes much longer.

Within this mandate, an incredibly important disclosure on the experience of the leadership team can be found.  In addition, there is a full financial disclosure on the health of the business, along with any and all costs, fees or expenses that may or may not be incurred by the buyer.  Also included are the expectations of both parties outlined in detail, and the success rate of past franchisees is clear and evident.   What is expected, but not necessarily required, is a full disclosure on the financial model at the unit level.   However, a list of franchisees with contact information is required, and EVERY candidate should call as many franchisees as possible in order to get a clear understanding of every aspect of the business they are considering.

I represent some terrific “work from home” franchises that start as low as $15,000,  which is not much higher than an MLM if all costs are honestly disclosed.  Even the low-cost franchises fall under the same disclosure laws as the most expensive ones.


In the end, the choice is yours:  Risk it all on a new start up by blazing a new trail for others to follow, chase the near-impossible dream of an MLM, or follow the established,  verifiable path that others paid the price to pave. With all the facts laid out, it would seem that the choice is obvious.

How to Get Your Confidence Back After Losing a Job

How to get your confidence back after losing a job

“I personally dealt with this challenge five years ago.”

So many articles have been written lately on the serious topic of how to get your confidence back after a job loss.  Those of you who have read my e-book, Pink Slip Paradise, know I personally dealt with this challenge five years ago.  Most articles express the similar thoughts.  They deal with the internal negative emotions of avoiding depression and isolation, taking care of yourself physically, staying focused and resetting goals.  All of these sentiments are internally focused to keep you from jumping off the cliff.

The dominant theme in these articles seems not to be a loss of income but a focus on the stress of losing your identity, the loss of a routine and a feeling of losing purposeful activity and a social network.  Now if your glass is half empty, it’s probably easy to fall into the abyss of “Woe is me, I’m in such a bad situation,” blah, blah and blah.

Let’s look at the true situation you are in.  By no fault of your own, other than being experienced, knowledgeable and pretty successful in your field (i.e. too old and too expensive), you find yourself job free.  You should probably celebrate the loss of your mundane routine; no more rush hour traffic!  Heck, you probably didn’t even like most of the people you worked with, and climbing the corporate ladder had become such a drag.  Now should be the time of your life!  A time when you are still young, healthy and energized enough to take on the world.

Why not take this opportunity make the changes in your life you’ve always wanted?

I only found a couple of articles that even mentioned what I think is the absolute most important thing you can do to learn how to get your confidence back after a job loss; focus on the opportunities ahead of you!

A recent Wall Street Journal article, Laid Off? Rethink Goals, describes how being laid off can be a blessing in disguise.  Being laid off gives you the chance to switch to a job that’s more personally and professionally fulfilling.

In a article by Scott Thompson, How to Regain Confidence After a Job Loss, he talks about taking time to do something you love and expanding your horizons.  Most of us have dreamed of one day learning to paint, play the guitar or maybe even spending some time with your wife learning the art of ballroom dancing. Whatever your dream and desire, you are now free to do it.

Over 70% of Americans say they want to become business owners.  Only 1 in 10 ever does.  You’ve been given a second chance in life at a time when you can take advantage of it.  Don’t waste this one.

It’s certainly easier to dwell on the loss, but that is wasted emotion and is not healthy.  Take the time to turn that lemon you’ve been handed into sweet lemonade and make the most of the opportunity you’ve been given.

So, what actions do you take to get your confidence back?

Now, if the lemonade still  leaves your glass half empty, review my compilation of all the great advice I found on the subject of how to get confidence back.

  • Deal With Your Emotions
    • Don’t let your job status define you.
    • Know Your Accomplishments and What You’ve Learned
    • Allow time to heal.
  • Stay future-focused.
    • Don’t Drift
  • Prioritize self-care.
    • Exercise is a great way to burn off stress
    • Stay away from sugar and carbs
    • Alcohol in moderation
    • Use positive affirmation.
  • Maintain/Develop a routine.
    • Treat finding a job as a job.  Not having control of your job search can have a negative effect on your self-esteem.
  • Avoid Isolation – reconnect with family and friends
    • Tap your network.
    • Surround yourself with positive people
    • Find a supportive network.  Get involved with an out placement firm
    • Meet other job seekers.
    • Help others.
  • Rethink Goals (lower your goals?)

Start a Business or Buy a Franchise…Which is Better?

Start a business or buy a franchise?

Entrepreneurs: Should you start a business or buy a franchise?

As a qualified, well prepared and well-funded entrepreneur, there is no better vehicle for achieving goals than to be in business for yourself.  A business is simply a process designed to advance goods and services to the marketplace in order to create value and profit for owners and customers.  Of the many options posed for those entering business, prospective entrepreneurs eventually wrestle with our question: “Should I start a business or buy a franchise?”


The answer?  It depends upon your personality type, how much money you can muster up, your risk aversion and your skillset.  It also depends on your aptitude to plan and execute. Overall though, it depends upon your drive, determination and ability to persevere.

Obviously, millionaires are built on platforms other than franchises or traditional start-ups. Distributorships and MLMs are two examples.  MLMs are easy and inexpensive to set up, but success rates are horrible.  Distributorships are restrictive and can range from simple home based models to huge warehouse facilities. Furthermore, for a business prospect to be successful with a distributorship, you better hope that the brand you represent has staying power.  Ask some old Schlitz beer distributors about that!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying a Franchise Versus Starting a Business

They are similar in the fact that the US congress has set up the tax code to give advantages to both types of business owners.  Both require detailed business plans and adequate funding. The elements of recruiting, hiring and training are inherent to both.  Both require precise marketing plans, IT systems, experienced administration and some sort of invoicing and payment processing.  They seem pretty similar, don’t they? No to mention that if an office is required, both will have sites to identify, leases to negotiate, furniture,  fixtures, equipment and signage to install.  So far they both sound the same.  However, that’s where the similarities end.

I ran into an interesting article by Funders & Founders that showed a first time entrepreneur’s startup business success rate at less than 1 in 5.  Now, it did show a higher success rate as those same entrepreneurs continued to fail on their second at a rate of 5:1 but improved to about 30% with their third venture, IF it was backed by venture capital and went public to IPO.  Still less than 1 in 3…not too impressive!

Let’s take that same model one step further, since they included venture capital into the mix.  Earlier we had examined everything it takes to open a business from business plans to signage, that all costs money.  So, let’s take a very modest and conservative estimate of $100,000 for each new opening.  At that rate the average entrepreneur will have spent $300,000 to have a 70% shot at another failure.  Now that’s an expensive learning curve.  They will most likely have to try it again and risk another $100K .  Really?  Over my wife’s dead body!

So, are the odds of success better in operating a franchise?

Not being prepared to manage a business through the ebbs and flows of an up and down economy decreases the odds of success in any business. To increase the odds of success, there are a couple key things available to prospective franchisees that are not available with traditional business startups:  mandated disclosure and validation.

The selling of franchises is heavily regulated by the Federal Trade Commission in an effort to maintain a level of integrity and honesty in the process.  The FTC requires that every franchise maintain, and in some states submit for approval, a document called a Federal Disclosure Document or FDD (formerly called a Uniform Franchise Offering Circular or UFOC).  This is a cumbersome and wordy document strewn with legalese, but it discloses just about everything you would want to know about a franchise.  The document includes all costs (real or expected), a short history of the executives, any bankruptcies or litigation, franchisor expectations of new franchisees and what the franchisee’s expectations should be of the franchisors.   However, the most important disclosure required is a list of all current and past franchisees with contact information.

Before making the decision of whether to invest in a franchise or not, every savvy potential franchisee calls as many of the franchisees on that list as it takes to get a clear understanding of the true value of the franchise.  This is a game changer.

As a result of mandated disclosure and thorough validation, potential franchisees learn the true value of the franchise or their interest, including:

  1. Industry and public respect for name brand and trademarks
  2. Level of proven success behind the business model
  3. Effectiveness and franchisor commitment behind the training programs
  4. Reputation and effectiveness of plug and play IT systems for operations, sales and back office management
  5. Value of the franchise culture of support, evolution and teamwork

In conclusion, everything from the business plan to the signage is similarly required of any business. It stands to reason that finding a franchise that offers all the above at an affordable cost makes the decision of whether to buy a franchise or start a business an easy choice.

“Pain” Drives Many to Learn How to Start a Small Business

The American Dream, Most will never learn how to start a small business

More than 7 out of 10 people in the US today have a dream of learning how to start a small business. It’s more prevalent in younger people than older people, and more prevalent in men than women.  How about you?  It’s the American dream of being your own boss; big desk, receptionist, polished dark wood office, walls adorned with lighted paintings, a nice new Lexus, beautiful home…the dream of success.

The dream is real in this United States.  Many people have achieved it, and many more will.  But even if you are in the 7 of 10 who want to learn how to own a business, you probably won’t.  Why?  The fact of the matter is that just over 1 in 10 Americans are business owners.  They are the entrepreneurs and franchisees who have overcome the internal objections, rejected the naysayers and dared to be independent.

Question:  What motivates the 10% to learn how to start a small business?

Answer:  They felt the pain deep enough to take action.

Why not you?  The truth is, you probably haven’t felt the pain deeply enough to make it happen.  Yet.

In my industry, about 4 or 5 out of every 100 inquiries is a qualified franchise buyer.  However,  only about 1 or 2 end up turning their dreams of business ownership into reality.  My interest is not in the 95 or 96 who are really not emotionally prepared, don’t have the necessary liquidity or credit, or are truly just dreaming.  Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to dream.  My interest, though, is in the 4 or 5 who are qualified, have the funds, have the experience and the dream.  However, in the end only 1 or 2 will act on it.  What is it that inspires the 1 or 2?  Their pain.

I ask every prospective buyer I work with, “So what has happened recently in your life to make you believe that now is the right time for you to learn how to start a small business?”  The answer is their “pain,” and it varies with each prospective buyer.

This evil “pain” can come disguised in many ways.  For many in today’s new corporate economy it’s the realization, that after being laid off, riffed, retired, downsized or simply fired in their mid to late 50’s, they are nobody’s prime candidate for a job.  They are too expensive, don’t have a wide enough employment window and honestly may not possess the “new era” technical skills of the younger generation.  After working the network, the job boards and social media, the ugly Mr. Pain exposes himself in the reality that the burn rate could exceed the severance & savings if the job search continues too long.

For some,  the “pain” transforms into a burning desire to achieve the dream.

Their dream has probably been smoldering for years, tamped down by the comments of co-workers, bosses,  friends and even spouses who have casually doused the flame in negativity.  But it’s not the dream; it’s the fact that the burning desire is finally red hot enough to ignite the fire.  At 211 degrees water does not boil.

Pain can be as simple the yearning to buy back a life.  How many executives are never home to see their kids grow up? How many proudly boast of being 1K or Platinum or whatever other lofty designation they ascribe to those who spend too many nights in nameless roadhouses, dining on cheap expense accounts?

Pain is different for everyone, but without the pain busting through the “break glass in case of emergency” capsule  the American dream will remain unrealized.  For those 8 in 10 who “dream” but never “do,”  the pain remains encased.

I think the worst nightmare I could think of would be to see myself laying on my death bed and thinking… I could’a, I should’a, but I never did.  And now I’m finally feeling the pain… too late.

If you would like to talk to Sid Lee and get your questions answered, sign up for a short, pre-consultation phone call.  You’ll be glad you did.  Sign-up here…


Middle Class Squeezed Out of Buying a Franchise

Is the middle being pushed out of the franchising opportunity

Thinking of buying a franchise?

I think the single saddest reality I have learned since I qualified as one of the top franchise consultants is that “middle class” Americans save very little and mostly live paycheck to paycheck.  Unfortunately, the middle class seems to be largely squeezed out of buying a franchise.

The ideal candidate looking into buying a franchise in my franchise consulting business is:

  • 45-55 years old,
  • college educated (or has a Sr. level of business experience)
  • has $35,000 or more in savings
  • and has a credit score over 720.

When I got into the business, I honestly thought that sounded like most Americans.  The typical “middle class,” right?  Hardly.  And most of you reading this can probably relate.

It begs the question: What is “middle class?”

According to October 2015 Federal Reserve data the average American family also carries $7529 in credit card debt.  Some are fortunate enough to carry a $0 balance and that actually drives the average down! But when only those that carry a monthly credit card balance are considered, the average credit card debt jumps to $16,140.  That must mean that the vast majority of middle class Americans cannot save enough to sustain the family for 6 months between jobs.

OECD studies also show that Americans save about 4.5% of what they earn.  That is a very low rate compared to other developed nations, and even that rate is skewed by high earners who save at higher rates.  At 4.5% that means it would take over 22 years to save enough for one year in retirement at a current modest income.  Pretty sad indeed.

Now, there is some good news when 401k savings are reviewed. In an April 2015 article in Money Magazine, Donna Rosato reported that 401k savings had reached a record high.  Average Fidelity 401k balances for accounts over 10 years old had climbed to $251,600. Once again the average is skewed by high income earners…not the “middle class.”  According to a recent report by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research,  the typical working household nearing retirement with a 401(k) and an IRA has accumulated a median $111,000 combined. This would yield less than $400 a month in retirement!

For households between ages 55 to 64 earning $40,000 to $60,000 a year,  the median balance in 401(k) and IRA accounts is just $53,000. For the same age group earning $138,000 or more, the median account is $452,000, according to CRR.  “Middle class?”  And these figures are from April 2015.  How has your 401k or IRA performed since then?

Who makes up the “middle class?”  The Pew Research Center has done many studies on the middle class, and there seems to be no universally accepted definition on what the “middle class” is.  But, whether it is defined through income, lifestyle, state of mind, or consumption, the typical middle class American is:

  • college educated
  • specifically skilled
  • employed in some level of management or sales
  • and constitutes somewhere between 25% and 66% of all American households.

Sadly, the following is the reality of the “middle class.”

I have discussed the fragile nature of U.S. employment in my book, “Pink Slip Paradise.”  When we strip away the facts, regardless of social status, the “middle class” American is:

  • college educated or has unique skills
  • in a semi-professional or management position
  • has tenuous employment (or hates the JOB)
  • has not saved enough money to sustain the family through a 28 week unemployment period
  • loaded with debt (we have not discussed college debt or mortgages)
  • lives paycheck to paycheck
  • not prepared for retirement.

Not a pretty picture.

So, since the Pew Research Center has already determined that up to 2 out of 3 of us fall into the “middle class” abyss,  it’s easy to understand why it is so hard to find an ideal candidate to qualify for and to learn how to buy a franchise.


Transitioning to the CEO Mindset

Transitioning to the CEO mindset

So who are those that transition to the CEO Mindset?

I saw a terrific quote in Forbes: “Behind an able man, there are always other able men.”

I have always believed that nothing of consequence was ever achieved alone and that typically great players make great coaches.  (Now that’s not quite like, “You didn’t build that!”)

Corporate America continues to skew younger in its focus on reducing fixed costs and improving shareholder value. In addition, our military continues reducing its human footprint.  As a result, many talented and experienced mid and senior level corporate executives and combat tested military veterans are now free agents.  They are hoping to utilize their skills and experience to get back into the civilian work force at levels equal to or at least close to the positions they left. The competition is tough, and landing those few jobs is a long shot at best.

So what are some other options?  For many of my military friends the option was simple.  They remained virtually at their same position, (sometimes even the same desk) and easily transitioned from US military to civilian government contractor.   For civilian corporate executives, the transition is not that easy and for many military veterans it can be a scary situation.

All successful business owners must adopt a CEO mindset.

One option available to those who dare to be different is to become a business owner.  That route takes a shift in mindset from being a loyal employee and doing exactly what you were told  (a “good soldier” so to speak), into a decision maker, a leader, a “the buck stops here”  kind of person.  The transition is not only physical, as you are exiting a relatively comfortable environment into one in which you might be very uncomfortable: self employment.  The good news is that most people who have already climbed the ladder, either in business or in rank, have already learned the skills they need to make the transition from the trenches to the penthouse.

The challenge for most is making that emotional transition from a support mindset to the decision maker mindset. The transition also includes a paradigm shift from an employee mindset of working for a paycheck to a CEO’s mindset of focusing on growing a business so that employees can be paid and the company earns a profit.

Many great books have been written on the CEO mindset.  Great universities study the psychology of leadership. Although worded differently, there are a few consistent themes in each of the studies:

  1. Be optimistic – Nobody wants to follow a person who is unsure of their future – a leader’s cup is always half full.
  2. Be willing to take risks – Leaders lead! You can’t be afraid of making a mistake. Great leaders process information and make a decision.  I have always lived by this adage:  Don’t be afraid to make the “right” decision.  Make the decision and then make the decision right.
  3. Communicate a clear vision – You must have a well calculated plan and be able to articulate it clearly to the team.  A very successful businessman once told me that if you have a well thought out plan and flawless execution, you have a very high chance for success.
  4. Be what you ask of your people – One of the greatest leaders I have ever known always taught, “What you do speaks so loudly that what you say I can’t hear.”  Think about it.  People will always follow a leader who has walked the talk and practices what he/she preaches.
  5. Be calm in the face of chaos – This can be the hardest emotional leadership trait.  It won’t always go according to plan. You must remain steadfastly confident,  yet willing to make a calculated change in course.
  6. Trust your teammates – Hire well, train well, develop your staff and trust that your team is ready. Great coaches are calm on the sidelines during the game, but meticulous, detailed and sometimes grueling in practice.

If you possess these qualities, you are ready for leadership.  As such, either traditional or franchise business opportunities could be the best path as you look for your next career.

If you’ve come to the conclusion that business ownership will be the best pathway for your future, schedule a pre-consultation call with our expert franchise consultant Sid Lee.  You’ll be glad you did.

How to Overcome the Fear of Buying a Franchise

buying a franchise, overcome your fear, franchising, going into business for yourself, franchise, franchises,

Buying a franchise, or simply going into business for yourself, is a very scary endeavor.  It is not for the faint of heart and should not be entered into without some trepidation.  The term, “by yourself” literally means “alone,” nobody to lean on;  nobody to help you in areas you may not be confident in.  Of course you’re going to be scared.  Who wouldn’t be scared attempting something they have never done and with nobody to help?

Fear has been described as False Evidence Appearing Real

For most of us, however, the foundation of our fear is built from learned behavior; lack of internal confidence developed over years of trying to grab the brass ring and coming up short.  In addition, external pressure from those around you, friends, loved ones, and even bosses who have in some way told you that you cannot do it.  It’s that little voice inside your head telling you, “You can’t do this.”

The fear of success is real, and let’s face it: success can be much more demanding than failure.  Noted Author, Mark McGuinness, states that “on some level, it’s more comfortable to stay in a familiar situation, even if it doesn’t feel great on the surface.  But achieving success (however you define it) means you are entering uncharted territory.  You are putting yourself out there to be scrutinized and criticized, and exposing yourself to new pressures and demands.”

It’s only human to wonder whether you’ll be up to the challenge.  A small anxious part of you would rather not take the risk.  You could always just stay at a JOB and continue to be miserable, always wondering,  “Why didn’t I?”  “Why couldn’t I?”

Embrace fear, and don’t go it alone.

Fear can also be the greatest motivator to fuel achievement, confidence, and ultimately, success.  I tell my clients all the time, “If you’re not a little bit scared, maybe there is something wrong.”

The process of “becoming” is rooted in “overcoming” those fears, both internal and external.  In the franchising world there is an old idiom:  buying a franchise allows you to go into business for yourself but not by yourself.   To begin overcoming those fears, you will need to find a great franchise system and then diligently research the franchise until you are satisfied with the answers to 3 critical questions:

  1. Do the Unit Level Economics work?  Are other people making money?  Is this a proven financial investment?
  2. Do they offer a strong value for the fees they charge? Franchises live on royalties, advertising fees,  technical fees,  and other fees they charge franchisees for services provided to the system.  Strong franchise systems will provide services and support in exchange for the fees in training, administrative process and procedures, marketing collateral, IT systems, ongoing training and much more.  Find one that offers support in the areas you do not feel comfortable.
  3. Am I a culture fit for this business? Franchise agreements can run from 5 to 20 years and are very difficult to get out of.  Make sure you are comfortable with the leadership, the direction they are taking the business and how they handle franchisee/franchisor conflict.  Over the course of your agreement there will be conflict.  How will they deal with it?  Is there litigation against the franchise? Do they sue their franchisees?

With my clients I look for a franchise system that has been franchising for over 10 years with over 50 existing franchisees.  These are successful franchise systems, proven many times over to produce successful franchisees.  The answers to those 3 questions will become evident through many conversations with the franchise executives and validation conversations with existing franchisees.

Finding a proven franchise system and becoming comfortable with the answers to those 3 questions will go a long way toward pulling you in off the ledge and alleviating your fears.

And remember, success is the best cure for fear.  Don’t go it “alone.”