Maybe you’re frustrated by a lack of appreciation at work, or you’ve realized that by being your own boss the sky’s the limit in terms of how far you can take your earning potential and career success. But whatever your reason for considering your own business, the biggest decision you’ll make is whether or not to buy a franchise or go rogue and start from scratch.

There is an upside and a downside to buying a franchise, and how the franchise model fits into your life plan will greatly influence your decision. Here are some things to consider:

The Upside

By buying a franchise, you’re immediately immersed in a proven program and selling system that has already been determined to work in different marketplaces. In a lot of areas, the franchise you’re considering is a recognized brand and the initial marketing and selling bugs have been worked out.

With an existing franchise, complex things like budgets and business plans have already been established or written by someone else. And these can be the most costly and time consuming items to tackle.

Securing a loan for a franchise is often easier than getting financing for a start-up that has no proven track record. When you sit down with a lender, you’ve got the power of an established brand backing you versus the unproven mom-and-pop model.

With a franchise, the monies required to create professional-level marketing materials have already been spent, so you enjoy the benefit while avoiding those costs. The end result is typically a more professional look and carries with it the implication of established success.

When you buy into a franchise, you’re also buying the supportive guidance of coaches and consultants who have already walked the walk. They can provide you with information that is often the equivalent of years of hard work—and trial and error.

Because so much of the work has already been done, the upfront cost to invest in a franchise versus a start-up can be much lower. Someone else has already spent the start-up cash, and you get to come in at a lesser dollar amount than that person did.

Your ability to make money happens faster with an established franchise. With a start-up, it can take years to be positioned well enough to earn a return on your investment. Because a franchise is often established in the mind of the consumer, the comfort level in dealing with that business is usually higher.

As a franchise owner, you might be wondering if you can one day become a millionaire. Anything is possible, but it depends on the franchise.

The Downside

Because you’re purchasing a franchise, you’re agreeing to adopt the business philosophy and management style of the organization as a whole. The creativity with which you approach your new business is often limited and you must follow the vision established by the corporate headquarters.

Most franchise owners pay a royalty to the parent company, typically eight to 15 percent for the life of the business.

Rates with certain vendors have already been contracted, so things like cups and plates in food service environment, for example, have to be purchased from a particular supplier.

The Takeaway

Whether you follow a franchise model or decide to go it alone, your success ultimately depends on you. Buying a franchise is not buying a ticket for a seat on the gravy train. It takes hard work to be successful, no matter which path you choose.

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