Is ‘Home-Based’ the Answer?
As franchising grows, with growth around the world, so does the range of brands.
Many people still associate franchising only with ‘fast food’ and ‘auto supplies/repairs’. Those days, however, are gone and will not be returning. It is true that fast food helped build the foundation to the franchise industry, but much has changed since the foundation was cast.
Franchising today embraces a plethora of brands covering everything that you can think of. It seems almost anything can somehow be turned into a franchise with whatever success is appropriate. As the brand options expand dramatically, so does the franchise format. With fast food we all knew where we stood – it would be a highly visible location with suitable recognition symbols to make it stand out from the crowd.
Times have certainly changed and the location, location, location mantra for success has passed. Franchise business formats now still embrace the highly visible street location, but they also embrace everything from a single serviced office and a virtual office, to a strip mall outlet, to a mobile facility, and even a home-based office concept.
There is much excitement around home-based franchises, as they offer something viewed as very enticing to entrepreneurs that have a long career built around commuting for several hours a day. The opportunity to ‘roll’ out of bed and literally be in the office in five minutes has considerable appeal if you have been used to an hour plus commute every day. Not only does a home base cut out the physical commute, but it also cuts down on the cost of commuting – an ever-growing element in the budget.
Reduced cost and reduced time have to be significant factors when considering a franchise that can be home-based. But are you as an individual well suited to such an environment? The usual and expected answer is always, ‘yes’. Usually offered without much thought about the underlying aspects of a home office.
Many new entrepreneurs working in a home-based environment have had a long and successful career – quite often with a major corporation. In that employment atmosphere they were well versed in how the business operated, who reported to them, to whom they reported, deadlines, customs, dress code and the all-important social aspects of employment.
Now entrepreneurship is the course of action they are pursuing, so it becomes a leap of faith to go from the confined employment arena to a home-based venue. There also comes a second leap of faith in that many home-based entities represent a one-person operation – the incumbent has traded the large scale employment situation for a home-based single employee/owner status. Maybe not just a leap, but a quantum leap of faith.
For entrepreneurs seeking a home-based franchise opportunity, it is crucial that they really weigh the pros and cons of their proposed venture. Just not everyone can accommodate working from home – it is after all your home and not your office, and dedicated space needs to be acquired – home and office do not co-mingle well, so there needs to be a clear separation of where one starts and the other stops.
Creating space may be one of the easier aspects, as is obtaining appropriate equipment and furnishings. In most home-based situations there are no ‘outside’ visitors, so the economy level of equipment may work well.
The biggest challenge is going to be temperament and self-discipline. As an individual, can you set out a plan of action and follow that plan? In a former life it was probably very easy, as there was a deadline involved and a designated standard to uphold. Now you are the ‘boss’ and you set the rules – notwithstanding it may be a franchise model – and you certainly set the time table. Are you disciplined to get it done today, or will tomorrow be fine? Sometimes looking into your own personal resources is not a rewarding function if results show that you are not really entrepreneurial material and you really prefer not to take charge, and being #2 has certain merits as far as you are concerned.
Self-analysis, before the event is crucial to any measure of success in a home-based model. Don’t be lulled into the quick commute and the monetary savings involved – make absolutely sure that you can run a business on your own, in your own home.
David Banfield is President of the The Interface Financial Group, a position that he has held for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in starting Interface as a franchise opportunity and building it to its current international status. Prior to his involvement with Interface, he worked extensively in the banking, credit and factoring financial service areas.