Does going to work in your pajamas, setting your own hours, and never getting stuck in traffic on your way to the office sound like a dream? Ranging from commercial cleaning to business coaching to pet waste cleanup, home-based franchises abound — and one of them might be just the solution to creating that lifestyle. But, before you get swept off your feet by all the advantages that working from home has to offer, let’s take a closer look at some of the often overlooked realities of operating a home-based franchise.
1. The initial and ongoing investment required for a home-based franchise may be significantly lower than the typical franchise investment — but not always. Running a franchise from home means that you don’t have to worry about leasing out a physical location and often allows you to invest your startup capital in more than just inventory. “Most, if not all, home-based franchise systems do not require franchisees to carry inventory, so you are not tying up capital that could be used for marketing initiatives and obtaining new clients,” says Paul Flick, CEO and founder of Home Service Franchising, parent company to three home-based franchises: 360° Painting, MonitorClosely.com, and Maintenance Made Simple. However, don’t assume that just because a franchise opportunity is home-based it automatically means a super-low investment, cautions Matt Boswell, CEO of Pet Butler, a pet waste cleanup franchise. Says Boswell, “The average Pet Butler franchise partner invests over $70,000 during their first year in business working from home.”
2. Just because a franchise is home-based doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be working from home. Some home-based franchises require you to clean other people’s offices or provide in-home care in other people’s homes. Says Boswell, “If your dream is to never leave the peace and comfort of your abode, be sure you have a full understanding of your prospective franchise’s requirements before getting started.”
3. Running a franchise from home can get lonely. Being able to work from home may sound great initially. But let’s face it. When the only other living beings you see on a daily basis are four-legged creatures, working from home may take on a slightly different meaning. “Oftentimes, people don’t know if they’re going to be lonely until they work at home for a long period of time,” says John P. Hayes, a franchise consultant and author of several books on franchising who works from home himself. If loneliness does set in, Hayes recommends scheduling coffee breaks with colleagues or arranging necessary business meetings over breakfast or lunch. Additionally, if you’re the type of person who works best by brainstorming with others or being inspired by others, you’ll need to be prepared to proactively create that interaction.
4. Working from home requires self-discipline. Only a certain kind of person can successfully work from home, so be honest with yourself before investing your savings in a home-based franchise. “Home-based businesses are for self-starters only — the undisciplined need not apply,” says Boswell. “Don’t fool yourself; know yourself. Each prospective Pet Butler franchise partner must show us a track record of proactive success, whether it’s managing others or themselves. To qualify for and eventually own a truly successful Pet Butler franchise territory, one can’t require babysitting.You must be a go-getter to successfully work from home in any business concept.”
5. You will need to be strict with family and friends. According to Hayes, the number-one challenge of running a franchise from home is getting friends and family to respect your work hours. “Make it clear that home is your place of work and that you keep specific hours, so you’re not available to do other things without some advance planning,” he says. In order to avoid this, Hayes recommends setting up an exclusive work space with a door that can be shut or even locked and putting your business name on the door so that people will take your work seriously.
6. Running a franchise from home has long-term implications. “Get a firm understanding and vision of how you will eventually be able to break free from the daily grind of always having to be there running the business — even if ‘there’ is your home office,” advises Boswell. “Can you truly create a valuable asset that virtually runs itself, or are you simply trading one occupation for another? At least with a job you can leave the headaches and hassles at the office — wherever it may be. But when you are the owner, responsible for everything, and you have to be there all the time, you’ve got the worst of both worlds, not the best.”
7. The earnings potential of a home-based franchise may be limited depending on the type of franchise. “Make sure that the home-based franchise you select allows you to own multiple franchises — and therefore really make ‘the big bucks’ — without having to relocate your home base,” says Boswell.
Home-based franchises can offer the perfect vehicle to making your dreams of working from home a reality. However, be sure to take a look at the whole picture in order to determine if running a business from home is right for you.
Sara Wilson is a freelance writer who specializes in issues related to small businesses. Contact her at email@example.com