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Franchise Business Opportunities: The Pros and Cons of Buying a Franchise

Aug 17, 2007
Have you always wanted to go into business for yourself? If so, it's possible that you've considered whether buying a business franchise is the right choice for you. Starting a business in any field is a significant life and professional decision, and, as with any major decision, it is important to weigh all of the pros and cons before taking the leap into a business franchise opportunity.

There was a time when someone wanting to start a business would follow the traditional route of selecting an industry, researching and establishing financing, and then hanging a shingle on the doorpost. These "mom-and-pop" businesses in many ways became the backbone of economic growth and development. Yet, as many entrepreneurs will readily tell you, independent businesses, even with their allure, often carry great risk, and the vast majority of small businesses fail within the first few years of operation.

Enter the franchise business opportunity. Although franchising is a relatively new business concept as measured against the scope of history, it is a business option that carries a much higher success rate than traditional independent businesses, and this is particularly true if you are a first-time business owner.

According to AllBusiness.com, a leading business information and resource portal, among the advantages of purchasing a franchise over launching a traditional independent company are "instant brand awareness and credibility, administrative and/or technical support, franchisor-provided training, quicker return on investment, strong management, and a network of other franchisees and associations dedicated to supporting franchisees."

While as an independent business owner, you are solely responsible for costly promotion and marketing of your product or service, as a franchisee, you usually have the benefit of national media marketing and advertising done by the parent franchise company. In addition, independent local businesses often find themselves in direct competition with well-backed franchises that simply have more resources to promote and operate their businesses.

That said, however, the very ordered nature of franchise business opportunities may come as a disadvantage to some, as by an established franchise system the creativity of the entrepreneur is often curbed. Yet, given the support available to franchise buyers and the numerous low-cost franchise opportunities, for many, purchasing a franchise still holds noticeable advantages over starting a traditional business.

Thus far, we have focused on the benefits and drawbacks of purchasing a franchise opportunity as opposed to opening a traditional business. But perhaps your choice is between buying a franchise and remaining at your traditional job or, if you are just entering the workforce, between purchasing a franchise opportunity and getting a traditional job.

There are unquestionably distinct advantages and disadvantages of buying a franchise business opportunity, and if you are considering taking the leap from employee to entrepreneur, it is important to carefully weigh both the pros and the cons of purchasing a business franchise.

Benefits of Buying a Franchise

As reported by AllBusiness.com and the International Franchise Association (IFA), the benefits of traveling the path of business franchise ownership are many, and they include:

1) Probability for success - With an established support system, franchisees are often able to avoid many pitfalls that lead to the failure of numerous small independent businesses.

2) Brand recognition - Customers become familiar with the franchise brand and learn to trust that brand, thus increasing business for franchise owners regardless of location.

3) Availability of training and support - Franchisors offer training programs for new franchise owners prior to the "grand opening" of their franchise outlet, and once the franchisee's new business is "up and running," franchisors provide ongoing support in the form of meetings, networking, additional training programs, research & development, etc.

4) Joint purchasing power with other franchises - While many independent business owners lack sufficient resources to do extensive advertising or even to maintain inventory at bulk levels, franchising allows entrepreneurs access to the franchisor's purchasing system so they can leverage outlay to achieve a greater return on investment.

5) Experience of the franchising company - Perhaps the most compelling advantage of franchising is the benefit of the experience of the franchisor. This significant "pro" minimizes risk among franchise buyers both by helping them avoid common mistakes and by granting them access to proven systems of business operation.

Drawbacks of Buying a Franchise

Even with their allure, however, franchise ownership also carries several cons that should be carefully considered before making the decisions to become a franchisee.

1) Risk - Although franchising significantly reduces the risk of business ownership, it does not eliminate it altogether, and as with any entrepreneurial venture, the success of a business franchise depends largely upon the efforts and determination of the franchise owner. It is by no means guaranteed.

2) Comparison with other franchises - While brand recognition is listed under the "pro" column, it also has the potential to be a "con" in the world of franchising. Just as consumers learn to trust a brand based on positive experiences, one negative experience can turn a buyer off to your franchise, even if your particularly branch was not at all involved in the negative scenario. Thus, the very nature of franchises and one of their chief success components also can present a primary drawback of franchise ownership.

3) Lack of independence - Again, although proven systems of business offer great benefit to the franchise owner, operating within the franchise system also imposes limitations on the entrepreneur. He or she is often is not free to pursue creative ideas at will, as the franchisor requires adherence to established rules and regulations.

4) Management responsibilities - When considering buying a franchise, it is vital that you are honest with yourself regarding your management expertise and capabilities. This is an area that many do not automatically relate to franchising, but the reality is that franchise ownership often requires human resources and business management and development. And this is often easier said then done. Although prior experience is not always required, honest evaluation of your current skills is paramount to measuring your potential for success.

5) False expectations - Franchising is by no means a "get rich quick" opportunity, but sadly many franchisees carry unrealistic expectations regarding their capacity to earn significant income in a short period of time. Just as any business requires extensive determination, hard work, and steady commitment, so, too, does franchising, and it is important that anyone considering buying a franchise business opportunity keep realistic expectations regarding the effort involved.

Inarguably, franchise businesses carry great potential for success. Yet they also present unique disadvantages to the franchise owner. Through carefully weighing all of the pros and cons, you will be able to determine if buying a franchise is the right choice for you.
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