The franchising industry is the doorway to a world of opportunity. Thousands of franchises offer countless concepts, all with varying startup costs. And while many require a storefront and overhead expenses, a large number of them – ranging from pest control to dance fitness lessons to deck and lighting companies and repair services – can be operated right from home. Home-based franchises are becoming viable options for business ownership, enabling many new franchisors to grow their businesses more effectively Franchise Finder Find the right franchise for you! Explore our directory of over 800 franchise opportunties.

The popularity of home-based businesses has been growing for a while now. Home-based entrepreneurship has become so common, in fact, that those running businesses from home have earned their own title, “homepreneurs,” and have become significant pillars in the economy. According to a recent survey conducted by Small Business Success Index and analyzed by Emergent Research, there are currently about 6.6 million home businesses nationwide that generate at least 50 percent of the owner’s household income. These businesses employ over 13 million people; 35 percent of them generate more than $125,000 in revenue, and 8 percent generate more than $500,000.

So what’s driving this trend? There are many factors, one of which is the struggling economy. “Home-based franchising is alive and well and, in this down economy, thriving,” explains Harold Kestenbaum, a franchise attorney who has worked with more than 100 franchise concepts. “More franchise companies have gone to the home-based model, when possible, since the tightness of the credit market has made selling the big-box franchises very difficult. The home-based model opens up the opportunities for prospects with lower budgets, which is a good thing.”

Additionally, as technology becomes more sophisticated, it’s easier than ever to operate a business from home and still portray a professional image. “As technology continues to offer more and more communications abilities, such as Web conferencing and seamless communication systems, home-based franchising will continue to be a viable option for many companies looking for qualified buyers and for buyers who wish to have the flexibility of working at a home base,” says Alisa Harrison, Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the International Franchise Association.

Finally, the once somewhat negative stigma associated with working from home is dissipating as the entire image of the traditional workplace is undergoing a metamorphosis. According to data released in January from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people who worked at home increased from about 9.5 million in 1999 to about 11.3 million in 2005. Furthermore, nearly half of these home-based workers had college degrees, and nearly half of them earned $75,000 a year or more. As the whole concept of working from home becomes more common, so does the idea of running a franchise from home.

The flexibility and freedom of running a business from home helps franchisees realize their dream of starting a business, but it also enables franchisors to introduce new concepts and grow their businesses. With home-based franchising becoming more widespread, those searching for a franchise may not have to roam too far from home to find – and start – a business of their own. (Sara Wilson)

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Getting customers to plunk down cash or credit cards remains a painfully slow process in this struggling economy. And that’s precisely why it’s important–and always will be–to lure potential buyers with promotions. In fact, coming up with attractive promotions has become a bigger deal than ever.

When done correctly, promotions get customers out of a holding pattern by giving them an incentive to take action before a limited-time offer expires.

1. Target your effort
Promotions can spur purchases by established customers, reel in new customers, draw customers from competitors, get current customers to buy differently, and stimulate business during slow periods. But rarely can one promotion accomplish all of those objectives at once. As a result, you must decide which of the following is most important so that you can target your effort:

  • Do you want customers to purchase more frequently, buy in greater volume, or   be attracted to new or different offerings?
  • Do you want to lure new customers into your business?
  • Do you want lapsed customers to give your business another try?
  • Do you want to boost business during slow hours, weekdays or particular seasons?

After carefully and thoughtfully defining the audience and the change you want your promotion to inspire, ask yourself this question: If you offer a time-limited incentive, is it likely that the customers you’ve targeted will respond? If so, continue to the next step.

2. Plan your incentive
A well-thought-out, properly targeted promotion prompts customers to take action by offering one of these incentives:

  • Price savings, including discounts, coupons or added value offers
  • Samples or trial offers to provide a low-risk way to try new products or services
  • Events or experiences to generate crowds, enthusiasm, sales, publicity

As you decide on your incentive, keep these facts in mind:

Price offers must be strong enough to compel, but reasonable enough to keep your business out of red ink.

Coupons always make a comeback in penny-pincher markets, which means they’re hugely popular these days. Even young consumers and affluent shoppers–groups that traditionally shun coupons–are using them, boosting the typical 1 to 2 percent redemption rate by nearly 20 percent.

Samples work in all lines of business to let customers try before buying. The key is to sample products that are so great they’ll win raves and repeat business.

  • Online-based businesses need to promote free samples prominently in an effort to attract links, visitors, site registrations and publicity.
  • Retailers can turn sampling into promotional events. Think of Costco on weekends.
  • Service businesses would do well to give away mini versions of their offerings. For example, five-minute shoulder massages or one-hour home decorating consultations.

Events and experiences draw customers for celebrations, product launches, special appearances or presentations, and other activities that combine entertainment with brand and product presentations.

3. Know what you want to achieve
Promotions work especially well when consumers are in need of a jolt to take buying action. Just be clear about what you want to achieve.

By knowing the potential bottom-line impact of your promotion, you’ll have the information you need to allocate a promotion budget, dedicate staff time and invest the energy necessary to host a strong promotion that will deliver business-boosting results over the time period it covers.

Typically with most franchise concepts, such as Outdoor Living Brands, the marketing and branding support to create these types of promotions is at your fingertips

Want to have people over for an afternoon of fun outdoors?  If your child is like mine, he/she loves to invite friends over to play in the pool.  Typically this means a few friends for them to entertain and a few parents for you to entertain – time to toss a few burgers, hotdogs, and steaks on the grill.  Sounds simple enough, but what you may find is little time is spent enjoying the afternoon and much time is spent running in and out of the house getting the food ready.

You pull out the cooler and stock it with ice and drinks.  Perhaps you should have two coolers, one by the pool and one by the deck.  Back inside to get the meat ready for grilling and back into the refrigerator for holding.  Get a few side dishes going on the stove, and make sure there are adequate supplies of paper plates, napkins, and utensils.  People begin to arrive and you welcome them into your home.  Exchange a few pleasantries and show them to the backyard.  As additional guests arrive, the parade in and out continues.

Fire up the grill and let the true procession begin.  If you are the sole person responsible for bringing everything out of your home to the entertaining area, you are going to make a number of trips in and out ensuring everything needed to prepare and serve gets to the proper place and on-time.  By the time all chores are complete and you finally get the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labor, you are exhausted.  The amount of time you actually get to spend with your guests is limited, and clean up hasn’t even begun.

It would be so nice if all the appliances, storage, and preparation areas were outside.  You could be enjoying the time with your guest through-out the process and not feel trapped inside while everyone else is enjoying the great outdoors.  Archadeck has already thought of this, and launched their “Outdoor Kitchens” program.  Whether you are looking for a grill or a complete kitchen, they have something to offer.  Beverage centers, motorized rotisseries, sinks, dishwashers, infrared backburners, storage, integrated seating . . . the list goes on and on.  Apparently, when it comes to outdoor structures, Archadeck does have everything . . . including the kitchen sink.

The home that Lisa and Steve share with their family is on one of the busiest thoroughfares in West Des Moines. But in their newly configured and private backyard, the rest of the world seems light years away.

“We wanted a space where our family could spread out and live, along with an enjoyable place to entertain,” Steve explains.

The couple opted to work with Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa to complete the transformation. Cross, who normally comes up with the plans for such projects, had a surprise when he met them “Most often our clients have a general view of what they want but aren’t down to specifics. Steve and Lisa, however, were extremely detailed in what they envisioned and already had created plans for the project.”

Their plans for their backyard meshed into an overall design scheme, which created their version of an “outdoor room.”

Cross says he tweaked a few details but primarily worked with the couple’s plans. “The two-level outdoor living space with the pergola and stonework really breaks up the space and gives it energy.” He started working with Steve and Lisa in February, when there was still snow on the ground, and started construction in July. The detailed project came to completion in October.

“With this project, the whole focus of our home moved to the back,” Steve points out. The cedar pergola will be allowed to age naturally to a silvery patina, he says. Just for fun, there’s lighting under the seating, providing soft, indirect light on the deck surface, which glows for evening gatherings.

Another low-maintenance aspect is the stamped and colored concrete on the lower-level patio, an aspect that Archadeck is incorporating into more of its designs and projects.

“We really wanted to avoid having a big open deck space,” Steve says. “With this angled configuration outside, we feel we have added visual appeal and usable space.” Inside, the family has added touches of the Arts and Crafts influence, which they appreciate. Steve laid subtle textured and plain carpet tiles in a checkerboard pattern to give interest, but also practicality, underfoot. To read more, see full article

Were you laid off?  Did “your company” downsize?  Are you struggling to find a job?  Are you saying – “I can not believe this is happening to me.”  “What am I going to do?”  “Where do I go from here?”  “What does this mean to my family?”  “Who do I know and where can I go for help?”  “Unemployment is just not going to cut it.”  “At least I have a severance package to help until I find something else.”  “Thank goodness I had put some money aside.”  Many people are facing the same dilemma you are.  With the October, 2009 nationwide unemployment rate at 10.2% and predicted to rise to 10.5% in November, 2009, looking for a job is much more difficult than it was earlier this year.  More companies are laying off employees and fewer companies are hiring.  On all levels, from the Executives to the Administrative Professionals, the impact has been wide spread.  The answer isn’t to look harder – the answer is to look smarter.

Step back from the emotional turmoil, and begin to analyze your options.  Do not fall into the trap of utilizing your savings, spending the money you received as severance, or exhausting your credit to stay on the same path.  What happens when your funds are depleted?  As a Franchise Recruiting Specialist for Outdoor Living Brands, many people contact me to discuss their options.  All too often, they wait until their ability to properly fund a business has passed them by.  “Had I known it was going to be this difficult to find something . . .”; “I got a decent severance package when my company down-sized, but I used it for living expenses – now the banks won’t even consider lending me money”; or “I’ve tapped out my credit trying to get through this, and I really need a job” – these are all too common themes.  Perhaps it is time to consider alternatives finding a replacement job.  If you are one of the lucky people who received a severance package, who has funds available in savings or a retirement account, or who has been mindful of their credit, why not invest that money in you? 

Now is the perfect time to take care of business – your own business.  There are some low initial investment opportunities out there that may be perfect for you.  Even better, there are low initial investment franchise opportunities out there that may be perfect for you.  A franchised business offers aspiring new business owners the opportunity to start their own business at a much lower risk.  A fine example of this is Mosquito Squad. Ask yourself this question – “How long can I sustain my current way of living if I do not find a job to replace the one I just left?”  If you want to be your own boss, be the decision maker, and not worry how other people’s decisions are going to impact your life tomorrow, take action now.  The answer isn’t to look harder – the answer is to look smarter.  Start your own business by utilizing what you have today – and invest into tomorrow.

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” is a quote I heard years ago.  There is a lot of truth in this little saying, and it applies to business and to life!

I talk to people all of the time who fall into complacency by just sitting still where they are content with whatever is happening to them,   not budging to improve or move forward.  Hey, I have caught myself doing the same thing from time to time and when I do, it scares the heck out of me!  I also know it is true that there is no such thing as really staying still.  You  are either moving forward or we are moving backward, staying still is just an illusion.  And, especially in business with changes occurring at record speed all around us… every business owner must consistently be getting better and better at his/her craft or indeed, someone will eventually run right over them.

I applaud people who decide to invest in their very own track by owning their own business.  They got off the track of the corporate world in order to pursue their own dreams.  This is a choice that took courage and also a choice that has many rewards that impact financial and personal goals.

People who choose a business format franchise have a great advantage.  Franchising is about being in  business for yourself but not by yourself, there is always a support team working on behalf of the entire system to improve best practices and to keep the brand fresh, alive, and moving forward.  The synergy of a great franchise system also serves you well because you are motivated by the energy of your franchisor and by fellow franchisees to stay on top of your game.

Great brands like Archadeck, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, and Mosquito Squad never rest on their laurels.  These systems are passionate about their drive to excel and in building for an even better tomorrow!  If you are fortunate enough to be involved with them, congratulations!  If you are looking for a fabulous franchise opportunity, I highly advise you to consider an Outdoor Living Brands concept.

The US Conference of Mayors held its first meeting in January to discuss the impact of franchises on economic growths, as reported by the IFA.

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Recent data has shown that the franchising industry is ahead of many other sectors in terms of creating new businesses, new jobs, and more economic output, even in a recession. In fact, during the 2000 and 2001 economic downturn, franchise businesses grew 40% compared to the 26% growth for other business sectors, and jobs grew 12.5% compared to 3.5%.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

To start your own franchise business, take a look at the Outdoor Living Brands website. There are 3 options to choose from, all with detailed business plans. Clearly, there is no better time than now to get into franchising.