I’ve spoken with many prospective franchisees over the years. Many of them have been at the proverbial fork in the road. They’ve usually had a good life so far, created their family, and saved a few dollars along the way. But, after successfully climbing the career ladder for several years, sometimes people find themselves wondering, “what’s next?” Sometimes the question of what’s next for people stems from feelings of being unhappy or unfulfilled in their current career; for others, asking “what’s next” is simply the question that will lead them to the next logical step on their career path. Whatever the motivation, often the people I’ve spoken with are fearful of making a mistake with their next career choice. The job market is not always kind to job seekers, especially those of us in the middle to late stages of our career. So, back to the fork in the road. Whenever you consider a career change, there are a few paths forward:

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

They all have varying degrees of risk, and varying degrees of return. What are the criteria to use as you contemplate your decision? 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. The key is to figure out 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? Will any job provide you with this?

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 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, and they often work more hours. But they do have the flexibility to put first things first, borrowing a phrase from the late Stephen Covey.

Risk Tolerance

What is your tolerance for risk? What is your spouse’s tolerance for risk? Are they the same? Deal with this very early in your research process. I’ve seen many business deals 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 in the future?

Also on the topic of risk tolerance, think about the varying degrees of risk. The perception is that traditional employment is on the low end for risk. And for some, that may be true. It’s comfortable, has health benefits, and a steady paycheck. It also doesn’t require you to spend any of your money. But, what’s the risk of staying in your current job? There are plenty of people in 2008 – 2010 who have stories about unexpectedly losing their job as a result of a dip in the economy, through no fault of their own. For them, turns out the risk was higher. Some of them ended up buying Right at Home or other businesses; but they had to do it reactively instead of part of working a proactive career plan.

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, though, 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 over 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 do our very best to set accurate expectations for owning a Right at Home Franchise. If you are approved and decide to come aboard, we will celebrate right along with you. We will celebrate your first client. We will celebrate your performance achievements, your service to your community, and your achievement of owning your own business. If you take a look and decide now’s now the right time, or that the business is not for you, that’s ok too. The key is, if you have genuine interest in taking the next step in your career, to engage and do the research. Only then will you know whether business ownership is the logical next step for you.