If you are one of the millions of Americans currently...
When considering a franchise, you'll invariably spend a great deal of time finding the right one for you. And this is the fun bit - you will have done all your research into the industry already and be convinced that franchising will offer you the best chance of self-employment success. You will end up owning a business within a tried and tested business model, with the benefit of a strong brand name behind you and a supportive network in place.
So how do you work out which franchise is best for you? Firstly, consider whether you want to go all out and leave your job tomorrow (always worth five minutes of happy daydreaming when considering that scenario) or if you prefer to build up your new business part-time to start with. There are a range of part-time franchises that allow you to do just this and the make the switch if and when you are ready to do so full-time. This suits people who have existing commitments and an income that they wish to supplement with the benefits of owning their own business. It also offers a low-cost entry point into the franchise market, as many part-time franchises are very competitive in terms of their investment level.
Alternatively, you could look at internet franchises, which can be run outside of the regular 9-5 hours and which you might fit around existing commitments and projects. With the will to succeed, many people blend their chosen work commitments very successfully indeed.
You may be in a position where you have money to invest and wish to take the leap to full-time franchising. If so, look through the listings and prepare to be inspired! Don't be put off if you lack experience or professional qualifications in certain areas that you're passionate about - speak to the franchisor to find out whether you might still be suitable. Many skills gathered in the course of one's life are transferable to other industries with franchisee training. For example, if you've managed a petrol service station in the past, you may be able to transfer quite easily to managing a franchised coffee shop, as you'll understand customer service, logistics, speedy operations and delivery focus.
You'll probably notice franchises that you'd never even considered either - ones in growth areas such as vending machines or green consulting and products, as well as franchising in specialist areas such as wedding planning or dog grooming. There are new franchises emerging all the time, so there's bound to be various attractive options that suit your circumstances.
When you've got a shortlist, get serious with your research. Analyse the industry to see whether it's stable or growing and how that matches with your longer-term plans. Then contact the franchisor and get as much information as you can about their business model and operation - most will have comprehensive packs for potential investors. Attend a franchise expo where you can meet the franchisor development teams and ask as many questions as you can. A good franchisor will be more than willing to undergo your scrutiny and give you as much information as possible.
Above all, be inspired and excited about the successful future that lies ahead of you as a franchisee!