You are at the proverbial fork in the road. You’ve had a good life so far, created your family, and saved a few dollars along the way. But after climbing the career ladder for several years you find yourself unfulfilled, or unhappy, or unemployed. Perhaps you’re feeling that you’ve achieved all that you want to achieve in your current job or business venture. You may be wondering what else there is out there for you. What’s a good logical next step for you and your family? With this economy, you really can’t afford a misstep in this decision. In front of you are several very different paths:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Start your own independent business
  3. Find a new/better job
  4. Open a franchise

They all have varying degrees of risk, and varying degrees of return. What are the criteria that you should base your decision on? Only you can decide what your decision criteria are, but I’ll give you a few things to think about.

Family

For all of us, family is important. That much we know. But what you need to figure out is how you are going to achieve that coveted work/life balance that everyone is looking for these days. Is your current situation flexible in terms of your time commitment? Does it provide the security that you need? Does it provide the income necessary to provide for your family?

Time

Are you prepared to completely dedicate yourself to the business, especially in the early stages? Building a business takes time. Many franchisees have said to me, “If I’m going to work hard, it might as well be for myself – not somebody else!” 

The key difference (on this topic) between working for someone else and working for yourself is that you get to choose when you work. Most people don’t work any less when they own their own business. But they do have the flexibility to put first things first, to borrow a phrase from Stephen Covey.

Risk Tolerance

What is your tolerance for risk? What is your spouse’s tolerance for risk? Are they the same? You need to deal with this very early in your research process. I’ve seen many a business deal go sour at the end because the spouse was not included in the decision making and research process. It’s just not realistic to expect your spouse to get on board with you after you dump 60-90 days of research on him or her.

When dealing with the issue of risk tolerance, you might also find it helpful to start with a list of things you want for your family. Some might be tangible, but I’m guessing many are not: control over your own destiny, flexibility, and more time with family are all things I hear frequently from prospective franchisees. After you compile your list, spend some time reflecting on it to see if it’s really what you want. Once you have the list, talk about what you would be willing to do to have that type of lifestyle. What investments and sacrifices would you be willing to make to build that lifestyle for your family?

Also on the topic of risk tolerance, think about the varying degrees of risk. On the low end for risk is employment – working for someone else. It’s comfortable, sometimes, with the health benefits and steady paycheck. And it doesn’t require you to spend any of your money. But, what’s the risk of staying in your current job in this economy? If you know your job is safe, there’s no rush here.

On the other end of the spectrum there is independent business creation and ownership. No franchisor to train and support you, and no help in navigating those unknown waters. No step by step operations manual. No advertising program. No other franchisees to gain and share best practices with, and no recognition for your achievements at an annual convention or on performance-based incentive trips.

While the thrill of doing it all on your own can be exciting, very few are willing to risk their family’s lifestyle by going it alone. Most people I know have mortgages, kids, and cars that they have to pay for. Risking it all on an unproven idea usually isn’t an option. For some, it may work. Perhaps the real question is, “Could you figure out how to do this on your own before you ran out of money?” And, subsequent to that, “If you did figure it out in time, would it still be worth it?”

Conclusion

As you would probably expect, we talk to a lot of people that are standing at this fork in the road. For some, it’s a tough choice. For others, they know what they want and they go after it. Either way I can promise you this: as you go down your path, we will celebrate right along with you. We celebrate your first client. We celebrate your performance achievements. And we celebrate your efforts to serve your community with a valuable service.