Entrepreneurs as Franchisees

A popular misconception in franchising concerns entrepreneurs as franchisees. Are franchise companies looking to recruit “true entrepreneurs” as new franchisees in their systems? Not necessarily.

What is a “true entrepreneur?”

Before looking at entrepreneurs as franchisees, let’s narrow in on the type of entrepreneur we are talking about. “True entrepreneurs” are those relatively rare individuals who are willing to go way out on a limb in terms of taking the risks associated with starting a new business. They have supreme confidence in their ability to overcome whatever obstacles arise as they journey build their business.

True entrepreneurs tend to shoot from the hip. They’re willing and able to create new solutions or change their business model on the fly. They may resist being told what to do. They’re wired to make all important decisions for themselves. Some consider them the epitome of the American form of capitalism, and they are a relatively rare breed.

Are true entrepreneurs desirable as potential franchisees?

The type of entrepreneur described above greatly contrasts with what most franchise companies are actually looking for in a franchisee. Strong franchise companies undertake years of trial and error perfecting their model. Their experience enables them to determine exactly how a new franchisee should launch and operate a business in order to be successful. They aren’t looking for people who want to blaze a new path or reinvent the wheel. They want people who will excel at executing the specific plan the franchise company sets forth.

The advantages and benefits of owning a franchise (vs. an independent start-up business) include less risk, a proven game plan to follow, a support team in place to consult for advice, and peace of mind in knowing how to overcome challenges. The problem for a true entrepreneur is that there may be little opportunity for self-expression, especially in the early stages of building the business.

The differences between owning a franchise and starting your own business

If you have strong entrepreneurial traits, you may still make a great franchisee. However, it’s worthwhile to carefully consider the differences in operating a franchise and an independent start-up.

Trading some of your freedom for less risk

Many entrepreneurs who contemplate owning a franchise have already tried launching their own business. They’ve paid their dues and learned first-hand just how difficult and expensive the process can be. If you’re in this category, perhaps you may be willing to forego some of your independence in exchange for less risk. Owning a franchise often comes with a greater likelihood that your new business will succeed. Are you comfortable with this trade-off?

The security of a proven system

As much fun as it is for an entrepreneur to “wing it” in operating their business, it can also be very stressful. If you’re on board with following a clear and tested roadmap for bringing the business to market, owning a franchise can offer less stress than starting up your own business. But make sure to conduct a thorough investigation when deciding what franchise system to join. Having a clear understanding of the rules you’ll be following will help you avoid frustration as a new franchisee.

Opportunities for personal expression

Even though good franchises are very regimented, they may have opportunities for franchisees to express their thoughts about system improvements. Ask whether the franchise company has franchisee advisory groups, such as those involved in marketing, operations, or technology. These types of opportunities can offer a great creative outlet.

Opportunities for innovation

Many of the most important innovations in franchise systems are developed and tested by franchisees, in conjunction with the franchisor. Entrepreneurial franchisees can often participate in the development and testing of potential new products and services, an important growth area for any franchise. Take note that these opportunities usually come along only after you’ve proved yourself as a franchisee who executes the system as instructed. When researching franchises, find out what avenues exist for innovation and ask yourself whether they suit your needs.

Entrepreneurs as franchisees: how to succeed

Good franchisors want their franchisees to succeed. They’ve developed a proven business model for just that reason. Most have seen the struggles of franchisees who deviate from the model. If you are entrepreneurial but willing to hold off your natural inclination to make changes, at least until your business is established and running well, you may be well suited for franchising. It’s very important to be upfront about your intentions and expectations, so you’ll find a system that’s right for you.