Many young college graduates, eager to begin earning money and making headway in the real world upon receiving their diplomas, turn to franchise opportunities as a way to quickly establish themselves both professionally and financially. The lure is great — linking up with a well-recognized brand that’s in the process of expanding seems like a surefire bet, right? Yes and no, but mainly no.
Your ability to stay afloat in the franchise you purchase depends upon the depth and breadth of your knowledge of how to run a business, as well as your stamina, determination, and passion for the particular one you acquire. Take into consideration the following advice when buying a franchise right out of college:
- Learn how to hire and manage people. Many college graduates find themselves in over their heads when trying to hire a staff, as most have little work experience themselves. It’s best to gain some hands-on experience as an actual employee in a similar industry before putting yourself in the position of boss. Watch your manager in action with both customers and employees, and keep a running list of workplace problems you identify. Also, listen to what your colleagues have to say about their work experience, their assessment of the boss’s ability to lead, and what they’d like to see change.
- Be sure you have the money and patience needed to succeed. If you are serious about purchasing a franchise but need to borrow money in order to do so — either from a family member or through a business loan — ask yourself whether or not you plan to be in it for the long haul. Many straight-from-college franchisees quickly become disenchanted with their business, primarily due to the fact that it can take some time for the business to turn a profit.
- Consider becoming a worker before an owner. If there’s a franchise you’re absolutely certain you want to be part of (say, a Subway restaurant), the smartest thing you can do is work in one before purchasing your own. You’ll be in a better position to map out a realistic business plan for how you want your own franchise to run. Take into consideration things that work and things that don’t, and devise your future mode of operation accordingly. Keep in mind that, in many cases, you’ll have to follow very specific rules set forth by the franchisor. However, there should be a bit of breathing room for you to formulate some of your own policies, rules, and ideas.
- Stay long enough to move into a managerial position. You might think it takes an eternity to become a manager of a business, but in many cases, transition from employee to manager or assistant manager can happen very quickly in a small business. A managerial position will give you a special “insider” position from which to view the daily operations of the business, which may be the most useful education you will receive on how to succeed in business.
- Look into mentoring programs. As an alternative to actually working in a franchise you’d like to one day invest in, ask if it’s possible to audit the day-to-day functions of the franchise, or perhaps enter into a mentoring program with the owner. You should be able to walk away from either of these experiences with an informed “yea” or “nay” on whether franchise ownership is for you.