Startup or Franchise: The Choice is Yours!

Owning and operating a small business was once the exclusive domain of the risk takers of the business world. The true entrepreneur had a distinct flair for creativity, innovation and vision. He, and I emphasize "he", knew how to operate outside-the-box. He knew how to make things happen. Many times, this individual had little choice as he knew from an early age he would be responsible for shaping his future and for making it on his own. Formal education was usually limited and often just a far-fetched dream. Corporate life was not even an option. Besides, he couldn't be told what to do, how to do it and when to do it. No way. No how.

Well, times certainly have changed in the business world. More so recently as many companies are faced with economic uncertainty as layoffs become the norm rather than the exception. An advanced degree is no longer the fast track to success. As such, many individuals including more females than ever before are deciding enough is enough. Wanting to control their own destiny they're increasingly choosing small business ownership as opposed to leaving their future in the hands of Corporate America.

Sure, the financial aspects are vitally important. That's a given. However, today's new small business owners describe their number one priority as establishing true balance in all areas of their life. They desire the freedom of furthering their own personal growth but will limit that growth by their abilities and resources, finding it more important to help others improve the quality of their lives and build long-term mutually beneficial relationships; both business and personal. They firmly believe people and relationships to be the foundation of success even more than money itself as they have determined money (profits) will be the end result of their actions.

This is where the road gets tricky as a decision must be made between starting their own venture and assuming total risk or reducing the learning curve and limiting the risk by investing in a franchise where they would be in business for themselves but not by themselves. The key questions posed by many emerging small business owners are asked very emphatically, "Can I achieve my goals and objectives as part of a franchise system? And, do I have what it takes to be a franchisee?"

Franchisee Mindset

In addressing these questions (and concerns), it's relatively easy to analyze the two and realize, beyond the viability of a particular franchise brand as addressed in due diligence of the franchise concept itself, the answers are really contingent and dependent upon each other. The answers actually lie in understanding the mindset required to be a franchisee. Once understood, a choice must be made regarding the desired path either as an independent small business owner or as one of the hundreds of thousands of franchisees across several thousand franchise concepts worldwide.

The typical franchisee must be willing to follow and adhere to a franchise company's business system and ultimately, promote the same within their new franchise community at all times. It must be completely understood the system cannot be changed by the franchisee nor can their business be operated differently than the franchise company requires as the system is proven and uniform across the chain. It's this uniformity throughout the organization that is paramount to brand awareness leading to company and franchisee success and is the foundation of an interdependent relationship between both parties to the franchise agreement.

A franchise is almost definitely not the right choice for the business maverick or renegade. Certainly, there is an important place in business and in our hearts for these unique innovators. If not, we wouldn't know Apple or Dell Computers as they're known today. Even McDonalds, as probably the greatest franchise of all time that stormed through the country under the leadership and direction of a true maverick, Ray Kroc, would not have been successful without franchisees being required to strictly follow and adhere to the McDonalds system without fail. No questions asked and no room for negotiation.

Entrepreneurs will be around for centuries to come blazing trails as never before. Some will actually plan to choose franchising as an expansion strategy and build the foundation of future franchise concepts. They will provide a choice for tomorrow's small business owners on whether to go it alone or invest in a franchise. And, it will be those franchisees of tomorrow that will follow, promote and expand those systems that will prove to be the steel, bricks and glass built upon the foundation of new franchise companies. Thus, continuing the growth of franchising as it expands throughout the world; truly a way of giving back by affording people more opportunities and options in determining the path to small business ownership that suits them best.

Published: May 3rd, 2011

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