In franchising and elsewhere, 55 is the new 35. What do you want to do during your next phase? How do you want to spend your time? You may be an empty nester with plentiful time and energy to devote to a new calling. You may have realized after years in the corporate world that you’d like more flexibility and/or control. Maybe you’re also motivated by the desire to create wealth, to give back and help others, or to stay active and creative. Many people in their 50s, and older, find that buying a franchise is particularly rewarding.
It’s not a new path; success stories abound. Ray Kroc was in his 50s when he started growing McDonalds. And Colonel Sanders had already celebrated his 65th birthday when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken. In fact, many franchisors specifically seek out new franchisees over 55 years old. They know that experience, wisdom, and capital resources developed over the years are great assets for a new franchisee.
Here are some things to consider if you’re contemplating buying a franchise:
Understand the franchisee role. Take a look at what you’d be doing on a day-to-day basis. Depending on the franchise business, you may be somewhat removed from actually delivering the product or service to the customer. Remember, you’ll be the boss and you need to be comfortable taking on that role.
DIY vs. delegating. After spending years in the corporate world, especially at a senior level, you may be accustomed to delegating minor tasks to other people. But as a franchisee you may be wearing different hats at different times, doing tasks usually suited to a range of positions from the CEO to the janitor. You may not always have staff available to do minor tasks for you.
Tolerating risk. Many people have accumulated substantial assets by the time they are in their mid-50s. Some are significantly less willing to accept risk as they near what they consider to be retirement age. Starting any business requires putting assets (potentially including retirement funds) at risk, so it’s important to consider your risk tolerance. What resources are you willing to use to finance your business? Figure this out in advance so you can continue to sleep well at night.
Lifestyle preferences. Perhaps at this stage of your life you’d like a flexible lifestyle that allows for extensive time off and travel opportunities. What’s important to you? Take that into account when investigating franchise businesses. Most will require an intensive start-up period, but after that some business models enable you to take a semi-absentee role.
Preparing exit plans. Though an exit or succession plan is very important for all prospective franchisees, it can be particularly important for those over 55. How much longer will you want to work? What will you do with the business when you’re ready to leave? Some people plan to turn their business over to their heirs while others may want to sell. There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s best to begin this process with the end in mind.
Franchisors are Looking for People Like You!
You can find tremendous joy and fulfillment reinventing yourself. It’s a wonderful second chance to build a life with meaning and financial rewards. Make sure you identify and communicate where you want to go with the business and what you hope to accomplish before you make a commitment. You are a desirable potential franchisee because of your life experience, business acumen, and financial stability. With a little care and thought the best years in life can be ahead of you!