A Covid-induced re-think has led many people to abandon the traditional nine-to-five, but is starting a business from scratch the only other option? John Burns, a partner at Gateley Legal, examines why buying a franchise is a viable alternative for those seeking a fresh perspective on work-life balance.
Our relationship with work is changing. Since Covid, many employees have re-evaluated their work and professional life balance, and how this supports their other commitments, expectations, and aspirations. It’s no longer the case that these must fit in around work – it’s work that must fit around them and, for many people, their current positions simply do not provide this flexibility and autonomy.
Cue ‘the Great Resignation’ – a phenomenon in which people left their jobs in droves, often with no new employment on the horizon. The need for a steady income doesn’t disappear, however, so what options are left for those shunning regular employment? The most common response to this is starting up a new business, but this can often come with a host of financial and time commitments that many people cannot afford to make. Fortunately, buying a franchise is an alternative that provides both the self-sufficiency of business ownership and the stable foundation of an established brand, making it an option well worth considering.
Trust and recognition
According to the British Franchise Association, around 90 per cent of start-up businesses will fail in their first three years. For new franchises, the percentage of failures is less than seven. Although a new individual business, a franchise is essentially a conduit for years of experience and recognition. It sits under the umbrella of a brand that has done most of the legwork already when it comes to brand awareness and customer relationships, leaving the new franchisee to focus on developing a regional identity and – most importantly – hitting the ground running when it comes to selling products or services.
For potential customers, a franchise also offers reassurance in terms of consistency. Walk into one of the high street coffee shops for example, and you know exactly what you are getting. Nationally – and even globally – there is little variation in price, ingredients, and customer experience, making them a popular choice for people who want a coffee, but don’t want to risk spending their money somewhere new. This consumer confidence can be a real boon to sales, particularly in the early years.
A helping hand
Traditional start-ups require their founders to wear many hats – not all of which fit. In addition to business plans, financial forecasts and product development, an entrepreneur needs to develop skills across negotiation, communication, marketing, and management. This often leads to heavy burdens in terms of time and money, many of which must be shouldered by one person until they can hire other employees.
Although buying a franchise still requires strong business acumen and dedication, it does come with a wealth of support, training, and guidance not available to businesses founded from scratch. It is in the franchisor’s best interests to help, which is why a franchisee will be shown all aspects of running the business, whether that be the use of certain specialised equipment, or the brand’s approach to customer experience.
The best of both worlds
Many people dream of being their own boss, whether that’s for the wealth, self-determination, flexibility, or acclaim that doing so could provide. Renowned founders such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have romanticised the idea of business creation, but their success often masks the countless failures and difficulties experienced by those who – for whatever reason – could not get their business off the ground.
Buying a franchise, however, provides the benefits of self-employment with the security of an established brand. Becoming part of a growing franchise can be extremely rewarding, not only financially but also, as the franchisee will be part of the “franchise family”, from a lifestyle perspective. Post ‘Great Resignation’, buying a franchise could be the fresh start many people are looking for.