How to Overcome the Fear of Buying a Franchise

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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.”

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