Category: Education and Advice

Overcoming the Fear of Starting a Franchise

Alex had been successful in the corporate world and had no intention of leaving it.  Sure, there was the inevitable corporate politics, bonuses that didn’t come through, and periodic moves to multiple cities to climb the corporate ladder.  But it was familiar.  Comfortable.  “The Devil You Know.”  So when Alex lost his job in a corporate reorganization, it was no surprise that his first inclination was to start sending out resumes and looking for that next job.  He started exploring franchise opportunities on a whim on a slow day, but never really intended to make an investment in one because he saw that as too risky, too different….too scary!

Change from what we know is always scary.  And if you’ve been in the corporate world a long time you are probably much more accustomed to doing your job well, knowing that a paycheck is coming for that work.  But starting a franchise is different.  There is no paycheck for your work when you first start.  And there are no guarantees.  Find me someone who wasn’t afraid the first time they started a business and I’ll show you someone that had nothing to lose.  But for most of us, there is indeed “something to lose” as we embark on something different and that’s what makes the change appear scary.

Fear of starting a business is scarier than jumping out of a plane for 1/3 of Americans according to a 2014 survey by Wakefield Research.  So what do you do if, like Alex, you are nervous even thinking about leaving the perceived security of the corporate world?

What makes the difference in people who move past their fear to become successful business owners is NOT that they aren’t fearful, it’s the way they manage that fear.    They don’t let the fear rule them – they focus on their goals, get the facts, and have a positive mental attitude.


  1. Focus on Your Goals – Remember the “Why”

What is the reason you thought about investing in a franchise to begin with?  For most, the top items include many of the following:

  • Having control of your own destiny
  • Work-Life balance and a flexible schedule
  • Potential increased income potential
  • No more corporate politics and no more layoffs
  • Enjoyment of your role in the business (not to be confused with loving the product or service)
  • Being able to call your own shots
  • Making a positive contribution to your community and/or providing employment opportunities
  • Building equity to have something to sell when you want to exit, or to leave to your kids

Picture what your life will be like in 5 years if you go the corporate route…and what it will be like in 5 years if you invest in a franchise.  Where do you have a better opportunity to reach those, or any other, personal goals?


  1. Get the Facts – Do Your Research

FEAR can be seen as an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.  So many times we let our perceptions (or misperceptions) keep us from our dreams.  Are you checking your perceptions along the way?  Ask yourself, “is this what I think…or is this what I know?”  Get the facts and do your research!  In franchising, unlike starting a new business from the ground-up, the nice thing is that you really do get to do an incredible amount of research before signing an agreement or embarking on your venture.  Before you make a decision and sign an agreement, check yourself – have you:

  • Had numerous conversations with the franchise rep to understand the model, the marketing, the site selection, the support, the IT infrastructure, the fees, the owner’s role?
  • Talked to other franchisees to get details about “a day in the life”, and learned about what successful franchisees are doing as well as what the ones who aren’t successful?
  • Developed your own proforma so you have some reasonable expectation of what it will take to fund the business and what it will take to get it to break-even…and what the returns should or could be? (a conservative as well as potential projection?)
  • Met the franchise team that will be there to support you at either a “Discovery Day” or “Meet The Team Day”? Does the company feel like a good cultural fit? (a gut check matters!) Do you believe that you will get the support you need?

With all that research, you should have a pretty good idea of whether you can do what it takes to be successful….and if you want to do those things.  You should have a good idea of what the challenges are as well as the rewards and a good picture of the funds needed.


  1. Keep A Positive Mental Attitude

When we first embark on something new, it’s easy to focus on all the things that can go wrong.  And it’s easy for someone to respond with the platitude, “yes – but what if they go right?”  Fear is part of our survival instinct and it’s natural to still have concerns and to think about worst case scenarios.  At the end of the day, here’s the question:  is there any logical basis for those fears or is that our lizard brain – (the part responsible for primitive survival instincts, that “flight or fight”) acting up?  Have you been successful in your prior endeavors?  Have you done your research and determined that your role in this business is a good fit for your skills?  If you’ve been a top performer in your prior roles and you are a good fit for this one, is there any reason to believe you won’t be a top performer here?  One of the greatest traits successful people share is an optimistic outlook.  Douglas Grant (and many other inspirational speakers) remind us that “In life we don’t get what we deserve, we get what we expect.”  Focus on the positive!



At the end of the journey and all your research and all your introspection, are you still feeling fearful?  You’re in good company!  There is always at least some leap of faith in embarking on a new business venture and if you had no fears or qualms at all we might need to question your sanity.  Actually, we have yet to talk to a client who, at the finish line, didn’t express some degree of nervousness.  But if you’ve set your goals, gotten the facts through your research, and visualized yourself in the business, and liked what you saw…you can be prepared to soar.

So what happened to Alex?  He took the leap, invested in the franchise, and more than 10 years later he has grown his business to multiple units.  He has bought a lake house, put the kids through college and is debt free.  He takes his family on at least 2 major trips a year and he and his wife take long weekends regularly.  “It wasn’t always easy,” he says, “but it has taken me to heights I never would have dreamed of when I first started.”

Here’s To YOUR Success!

   “Every great move forward in your life begins with a leap of faith, a step into the unknown.”