Troy Tappenden: Why franchising should be an option for entrepreneurs

Being their own boss is still one of the biggest work ambitions for millions of people in the UK. There is a status that comes with running your own company, and people like the thought of being independent and calling the shots. They are also attracted by the lifestyle, flexibility and potential to earn money.

But as someone that started a business in 1999 with just £500 in their pocket, I can testify that it is seriously hard work and not without risk. That’s why franchising is becoming an increasingly popular option for people that like the idea of running their own business but don’t want the risk and overall responsibility that comes with that.

Why is this, and what should a would-be entrepreneur look for when searching for the right business opportunity?

No step into the unknown

A good business idea is a wonderful thing. If it is something new, innovative or unique then it will most likely be a success and an entrepreneur is on the path to fame and fortune. But how can you tell if your business idea is going to be a success? The short answer is, you can’t.

For every Uber, Deliveroo or Funding Circle, there are a whole host of dud business ideas. Most businesses falls somewhere in the middle, but the point is that you don’t really know until you have tried it out, so it can be a risky avenue to go down.

Franchising on the other hand, is more often than not, an established and proven business model. At Dream Doors we have more than 70 franchises across the UK, with an average annual turnover amongst those of more than £500,000. It shows there is already a demand for that product and demonstrates how an entrepreneur can be successful, but without the step into the unknown that comes with launching a new startup.

It’s still a question of people getting out what they put in – even with the best franchise a lazy franchisee that isn’t prepared to do the hard yards is never going to be a success. But if you choose a franchise with a good product, good support and an established model, then it makes the job much easier – something that is of a crucial importance when buying business too (cafes, service stations, childcare centres for sale, etc).

Working for a national brand

Running a business can be a daunting, and at times, lonely proposition. When you go it alone, you don’t really have anyone to bounce ideas off, get tips from or attend training courses with. Additionally, when you start out certainly, your business is not a brand anyone will have heard of, so may well require a lot of marketing to address that.

Working as a franchisee however, addresses many of those issues in one fell-swoop. A strong franchise opportunity should offer all the training you could need, covering specific information about the industry it falls under, from more general business training such as closing a sale, marketing and advertising, recruiting and managing staff, financial management and more.

A franchisee will also benefit from on-going marketing support and the consumer recognition that comes with working for an established, national brand. If the franchisor embarks on an extensive national advertising or PR campaign, every single franchisee in that network will see the benefit.

There is also the opportunity to network – both in-person and online – with other franchisees. That’s a great opportunity to exchange views, success stories, what works and what doesn’t, with businesses just like yours, but in a different (and therefore non-competitive) area of the country.

Freedom and flexibility…but less responsibility

Running a business is hugely rewarding – you call the shots, shape your own destiny and keep your own time. It allows you to work in a field that you have chosen and have an interest in, and it is far more convenient in maintaining a decent work / life balance.

All of these qualities also apply to running a franchised business. Depending on the nature of the franchise the hours might change – restaurants involve less sociable hours, retail is more 9:00 – 5:00 but can include weekends – but a franchise will generally give you all the freedom and flexibility of running your own business.

That is with one small difference – there is less uncertainty and responsibility involved. You will need to work hard, and drive the business as if it were your own, but the franchisor is there to share the stress and responsibility, which makes life much easier for the franchisee.

Changing perceptions of franchising

However, there remain some outdated perceptions of the franchising industry, as perhaps not being professional and not a true part of the business world. If this was ever true, it certainly isn’t now.  In 2015, franchising delivered £15.2bn to the UK economy and around 640,000 people are employed in franchising.

Franchising now touches our lives in many ways, from where we eat and improve our homes, to stage schools and swim schools for our children. That’s why any entrepreneur should always consider franchising as an option when they start their own business.

By Troy Tappenden, founder and MD of Dream Doors, the UK’s leading kitchen makeover firm

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