Sunday, September 10, 2006

Should I franchise?

September 2006 - I often spend time debating subjects around starting my own business and in doing so bombard by lovely wife and gracious family members with a myriad of ideas and topics of discussion. During our conversations the computer software business always floats around the top of the idea pool because of its strong market and high potential for good margins. Look at how successful Microsoft and Apple are. Additional banters study and discuss the aging demographics. Why not some sort of high technology product that solves all sorts of age related health problems with a simple electronic gadget you swallow after morning bran flakes? Local medical companies like Medtronic, St. Jude, and Boston Scientific seem to be doing quit well. And on and on the rhetoric goes. Ah the sleepless nights such entrepreneurial aspirations have caused me.

Everything seems so simple, but here is the one problem I run into. Money! Sure there are the made for movie stories about the young professional from MIT who started a high tech software company living on nothing but Mountain Due, Doritos, and Dungeon and Dragons. They go on to great fame, wealth, and retirement at age 30. Here’s the deal though, those stories are so few and far between we’re only blessed to hear about them every so often. So what’s a married, suburban living, 30-year-old soon to be MBA graduate do if they want to start a business yet keep a marriage in tack and pay the cable bill on time? My thoughts are to open a franchise.

Now I’d surmise the ardent entrepreneurial is laughing and ready to poke fun at the franchise idea. Candidly the idea of a franchise is not romantic to me either. “Welcome to McDonald’s may I take your order?” or singing the Coldstone chant do not have savvy rings to them. But here’s the deal; a family man of my nature, who enjoys the pleasantries of our home, can’t afford to take a “swing for the fence” risk right away. In other words I’d be willing to forfeit my beat up old car during bankruptcy proceedings, but certainly not our home or my golf clubs. Consequently, aspiring entrepreneurs in my situation need to take calculated risks which I’m hoping a franchise provides.

I’m not sure of the success rate of franchises, but I don’t see many Subways going out of business in my neighborhood. That being said the local Quiznos just recently had its third grand opening and the corner Burger King’s boarded up windows are an eye-sore. While I have no evidence to prove my hypothesis, I’m willing the bet the failure of these entities was more management than business model. And it’s the management where I see well educated, humble, and hard working entrepreneurs succeeding. In conclusion; if you’re a married, suburban living, family man like this curious mind is, then carefully choosing and running a good franchise is a great opportunity to practice the entrepreneurial spirit you so longingly lay awake and dream about.