Can you answer a resounding “yes” to these questions?
1. Am I willing to dedicate long hours every day for at least two years to get my business up and running?
2. Do I have the skills and willingness to network with other small-business owners in my local community? If not, am I willing to learn those skills, or hire someone to handle this for me?
3. Am I able and willing to take direction from a franchisor partner?
4. If some of my potential customers turn me away, will I remain upbeat and steadfast in an effort to get new business?
If you can answer “yes” to all four questions, a business-to-business (B2B) franchise might be the ideal opportunity for you. As a B2B franchisee, you will provide needed services to other small businesses, saving them time and money, and making you a part of their success while making a success of your own business.
One of the biggest advantages of running a B2B business is there are a large number of franchise opportunities to choose from.
Business-to-Business Services: You can find B2B franchises providing services to small businesses that range from shipping and mailing centers to business consulting, temporary personnel placement, IT support, commercial cleaning, tax preparation, and marketing. Since it is generally less expensive for a small business to outsource these services to a B2B franchise than it would be to have a dedicated employee on staff. Outsourcing is becoming more and more popular not just as a way to trim operating costs, but also as a way for businesses to focus on their core competencies while letting an outside service provider handle other areas. As a result, the services B2B franchises provide are in demand.
Business-to-Business Products: There are B2B franchises providing products such as copier toner and ink jet supplies and refills, office supplies, logo apparel businesses, signage and more.
There are many advantages to operating a B2B franchise. One is that you typically operate the same hours your clients do – Monday to Friday during normal business hours. Knowing that you have a traditional schedule and that your hours are limited can be a great advantage, particularly to the franchisee who is balancing work and family. Compare these to the hours worked by the owner of a retail franchise (open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. or later, seven days a week) or a fast-food franchise (which could be open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day).
If you are transitioning from corporate America to business ownership, a B2B franchise will use many of the skills you learned in your prior job. You will not be working with the general public, but calling on business professionals and offering them products and services they need. If you have a background in sales and marketing in any industry, you’ll find those same skills translate well to your B2B franchise business.
A B2B franchise is often less expensive to get into than other types of franchise businesses and may have fewer operating expenses. Because you will probably not be required to locate your business in prime retail space, your overhead will be less than that of a business catering to the general public. Many B2B franchises, particularly in service categories, can even be run from a home office, which can greatly reduce operating expenses. For example, a B2B franchise owner might manage a staff of technicians who travel to the client’s site to repair equipment. By eliminating the high overhead associated with a storefront, such B2B franchisees can focus their resources on advertising, marketing, and management.
B2B franchise companies provide a much-needed service to small businesses, making them one of the fastest-growing sectors in the franchise industry. Whether you have a home-based or brick and mortar location, whether you choose a service or product franchise business, a B2B franchise can provide you with a low-cost, high-demand business opportunity and the support of a national franchise company.
Linda Bremer Menter is the Vice President of Consultant Development for FranChoice Inc., a national network of franchise consultants that provide free guidance and advice to qualified individuals in the United States searching for franchise opportunities that match their personal interests and financial qualifications.