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Focusing your franchise research

franchisebasics_crop1By Gary Prenevost and Mike Martin
If you are already serious about becoming a franchisee, then congratulations! You are among a growing base of Canadians who would rather work for themselves than work for someone else. In recent years, surveys have shown approximately two-thirds of Canadians would prefer working for themselves. In 2015, the results were as high as 80 per cent.

The widespread interest in franchising as a career indicates a significant loss of confidence in traditional, lifelong employment and the associated financial-security and wealth-creation strategies. Many Canadians have concluded self-employment is the best path available for creating stability in their careers and achieving their life goals.

Key criteria
It is fairly common for people to ‘fall under a spell’ when they first investigate self-employment options.

“Sometimes I seem to think being self-employed as a business owner is a romantic venture,” a prospective franchisee recently said.

While there may indeed be a certain allure to business ownership, it should only be considered a very small part of the overall decision-making criteria. After all, acquiring a franchise is one of the most impactful financial decisions of your life. If you get it right, you will have found a wealth-creation engine to meet and, ideally, exceed your financial and lifestyle goals—but if you get it wrong, it can do serious damage to your finances.

Given the critical importance of making the right decision with regard to hunting for and buying the ideal franchise, you should follow the safest path by first understanding the key considerations. One of these considerations is the clarity of the reasons you want to become a business owner. You need to have clear goals and objectives, not just sentiments.

Next, your mission is to research franchises to find one with the best potential to achieve those goals. It is also important for the role of the franchisee in that business to align with your transferable skills and interests. After all, it is rare to find any happy, successful business owner who (a) does not possess the capabilities necessary to run the business, (b) is not interested in what’s necessary for day-to-day operations and (c) is not getting closer to his/her goals.

After you have defined your ideal business model, identified franchises of interest and conducted thorough research, you will also need to seek professional, financial and legal advice.

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A good franchise consultant will help you clarify your business ownership goals.

Why you want change
It’s very important to start by asking yourself why you want to become a business owner, so you can weigh your options for self-employment and make an informed, educated and responsible financial and lifestyle-related decision for yourself and your family.

If you are coming from corporate employment, for example, are you looking to self-employment as a different option due to a situation of career discord or unhappiness? For the vast majority of Canadians, corporate employment is not as predictable, promising or rewarding as is used to seem. Outside of some public-sector and unionized roles, gone are the days when young people would seek out the career of their lifetime, working for several decades with a single company with reasonably strong job security. Instead, most Canadians have to adapt to a lifetime of careers, generally at the whim of other people’s control and job contracts lasting anywhere from six months to three years.

The most unpleasant part of a lifetime of careers is, of course, the unemployment gap between each of these jobs. And the older you get, the longer it takes to land your next job contract.

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