If you’re thinking about buying a small business or starting one, franchising offers many benefits and ultimately the opportunity to achieve your lifestyle and financial goals. Simply stated, a franchise is “a type of business that is owned and operated by individuals (franchisees), but is branded and overseen by a much larger—usually national or multinational—company (the franchisor),” so says franchising expert Joel Libava.

Finding the right franchise takes patience, determination and an inquisitive approach. (Qualities that will also help you operate a successful business.)

Here are several steps to consider in what will become your “investigation process”:

1) Visit the International Franchise Association (IFA) website. The IFA is the industry trade association. It’s franchising 101 and more.

2) Determine your net worth, how much you’re willing to invest in a business, and how much you need to make to support your lifestyle.

3) Poke around the internet for information on specific categories and types of businesses that interest you. A first stop should be Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 ® listing. Starting at the top works for painters and prospective franchise owners.

4) Visit franchise websites and learn about concepts that fit your background—though in many instances no experience is necessary—that are within your budget, and that provide the emotional rewards you’re looking     for, e.g., giving back to your community, heightened self-esteem, etc.

5) Create pro and con comparisons, and (long) lists of questions. From here you can contact the franchisors directly or you can engage a franchise consultant. Consultants are paid by the franchisor, so their services are free. For more on consultants click here.

6) Gather information. Review it all with a lawyer—someone who is well-versed in franchise law—and your CPA. Most important, consult your family. Get their support. Even if they’re not involved in the business, their backing is essential to your peace of mind.

7) Attend franchisor “Discovery Days.” Meet the professionals you’ll be working with, ask more questions, talk with existing franchise owners, and make your decision.

Count on at least 90 days to journey through those seven steps. Once you’ve signed your franchise agreement and paid your franchise fee, your Grand Opening timetable depends on many factors: financing, real estate, training, business and marketing planning, etc.

Now you’re ready to open the doors, answer the phones, create value for your customers, and deposit checks into your business banking account. (It’s not quite that easy, even for a franchise business with a proven business model, a respected brand name, and legions of support.)

Expect to work hard and follow these additional steps to achieve your success:

1) Set goals and hold yourself accountable. Establish an “exit” strategy—how and when you want to retire or leave the business.

2) You joined a franchise with a working operating model. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Follow the “system.”

3) Put the home-office on speed dial and network with your franchise peers. Everyone associated with the franchise has a vested interest in your success. Look for mentors.

4) Continue to ask questions. Ask for help. Dispense advice when called upon. Attend all franchise meetings—local, regional, annual conventions, etc.

5) It may be a franchise, but it’s your business. There’s a return of investment and a return on effort. The later affects the former.

6) Become an expert in your business—not only for your customers, but also for the media—when they’re searching for sources to build stories, they’ll contact you. A case in point is a recent article that appeared in Printing News.

Printing News, the print and digital publication covering the commercial printing, visual and graphics arts industries, profiled franchise member Denise Wieand, co-owner of Allegra, Marmora, NJ, in its February 2018 issue.

Denise and her husband, Nick, purchased an independent printing and bindery business in March 2010 through the Alliance Franchise Brands MatchMaker ® Program and immediately converted it to an Allegra Center.

Nick has extensive experience in sales, customer service, project management, and heavy equipment operation. He managed the business. Denise continued to pursue her career as a retail management consultant until she joined him in 2015. Nick is CEO/V.P. Sales and Marketing, while Denise provides guidance for strategic business decisions, leads the company sales and marketing team, and oversees human resource management activities.

“We help companies solve simple or complex problems through our expertise, creative solutions, and can-do attitude,” says Denise. “We’re always learning, improving, and fine tuning to get results for our clients. We don’t give up!”

Writer Jennifer Wilberschied interviewed Denise for the magazine’s Executive Q&A section. Denise is giving back to her community. She’s a board member of the local Chamber of Commerce, a vice chair for the two-county Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter, and serves on the Alliance Franchise Brands’ Marketing & Print Division Network Advisory Council.

For more on Denise and what makes Allegra newsworthy, click here.

©2018 All rights reserved. Alliance Franchise Brands LLC is the parent company of Allegra Network LLC.