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Should Former Independent Business Owners Look At Franchise Ownership?

Should Former Independent Business Owners Look At Franchise Ownership?

By FranchiseKing, Guest Blogger
Published: March 6, 2013 Updated: September 23, 2016

Sometimes, the best-laid plans don’t pan out.

Take business ownership, for instance. Think about how many businesses are started and closed in the US every year. Not every business makes it. But, every small business owner wants to make it. Why else would someone risk their money, and commit the time and energy needed to be their own boss?

Working For Yourself

I’ve been my own boss since 2001. I call the shots. I decide my marketing budget. I decide how much of a salary I take out of my business. I choose when to take a vacation. I choose my days off. I have total freedom and control.* It is as fantastic as it sounds. I don’t plan on giving it up.

A few years ago, a business attorney referred someone to me who was interested in franchise ownership. I contacted the gentleman, and our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi, Jack! I’m returning your phone call from yesterday. The message you left on my voicemail said that you were referred to me because you were thinking of looking at franchise opportunities.”

Jack: “Yes, Joel. An attorney friend of mine knows of you, and he told me to call you for information and advice.”

Me: “Great. So, why are you thinking about looking into franchise ownership?”

Jack: “I had a pretty successful business for 10 years, but I recently had to shut it down. It turns out that the CFO I hired messed up the books big time, and I had to liquidate everything. I owned several retail stores. I’m kind of at a crossroads here. I’m hoping that you can help me find a good franchise.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that you lost your business. This must be a pretty rough time for you.”

Jack: “It is. I was doing pretty well, too. Put my kids through college, and enjoyed the fruits of my labor. I’d like to find another business. I was thinking about a franchise.”

Me: “Well Jack, I’d be happy to work with you, but here’s my fear: you’ve been an independent small business owner already. You’ve been the guy running the show, right?”

Jack: “Correct. I was the boss. I made the rules. But, I have to tell you; I think that it would be really hard for me to work for someone else…you know, go out and get a job.”

Me: “I totally understand. I can see where you’re coming from.”

Jack: “Yep. No ‘job’ for me, thank you very much.” 

Me: “Well, you do know that if you buy a franchise you’ll have to follow someone else’s system. In franchising, there are a lot of restrictions…a lot of rules, and I’m a bit concerned that some of them may be kind of tough for you to adhere to since you’ve been the one making the rules for the past several years.”

Jack: “Joel, let me share something with you; I’m almost 60 years old. I’m probably not going to be able to find a good job, for what I’d need to be paid. It’s just not realistic. If I were to find a good franchise to own, I really would have no choice but to follow their system. And, I know I could do it, Joel.”

Jack Did It

After our conversation, I was able to spend time on the phone with Jack. He was able to convince me that he would adapt quite well to a franchise business. He spoke from the heart, and I felt that he was really sincere about following someone else’s system.

Jack and I were able to come up with some ideas, and he ended up buying a B2B franchise.* He was even able to get his sons involved, and they eventually took over the business.

It’s a great story, and I’m glad that things worked out for them. But, should all former independent small business owners look into franchise ownership?

My answer is no, and it’s because of the rules.

Transitioning from rule-maker to rule-follower is a tough one. It’s one of those things that sound pretty good on the surface…during the planning stage, but when reality sets in, it may not be a pretty picture.

Independent small business owners that have been around for a while-and that have a reasonable track record of success, know a lot about business. They may have some great ideas…ones that the executive team may not want to hear.

There’s a real potential that egos could collide, and I haven’t seen that many good things come of situations like that.

If you’re a former independent small business owner, and you’re thinking of going the franchise route this time, make sure that you’re really ready to use someone else’s business system.

If you can do that, you may end up like Jack.    

*Non US Government Links

About the Author:

Joel Libava

Guest Blogger

The Franchise King®, Joel Libava, is the author of Become a Franchise Owner! and recently launched Franchise Business University.