As you begin your quest to learn more about business ownership, do your homework, and know the rules of the game.  When you are considering franchise opportunities, remember that the Federal Trade Commission has set forth many rules and guidelines that franchisors must follow to remain in compliance.

As a Franchise Recruiter for Outdoor Living Brands, I hear stories of interactions my candidates have had with other franchise opportunities.  Typically, when the first question I receive from a candidate is “How much money can I make”, I know they are either testing me and my credibility, or they may not have worked with ethical franchise professionals in the past. 

As per Federal Trade Commission rules, there is only one legal way to answer that question as a franchisor.  Franchisors may include an “earnings claim” in their Franchise Disclosure Document (or Unified Franchise Offering Circular), but must have the historical data required to verify the information being disclosed.  This “earnings claim” is found in the Franchise Disclosure Document as an “Item 19”. 

Most franchise concepts do not have an Item 19 in their Franchise Disclosure Document.  Perhaps the historical data isn’t available, the information does not put the franchise’s performance in a good light, or they are simply not comfortable providing that data up-front.  If you are looking at franchise concepts, and hear claims of “100% success rates” or “our franchisees make a lot of money”, etc., buyer beware – if you can not find this information documented, it may not be accurate.  Ask the franchise concept if their Franchise Disclosure Document contains and Item 19 – and if not, why?

Outdoor Living Brands currently works with franchise candidates of Archadeck, Mosquito Squad, and Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.  Each of these concepts offer an Item 19.

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)

As a Franchise Recruiter with Outdoor Living Brands, a common reason people give for looking at franchise opportunities is they want to have more time to do the things that are important to them.  Recently I had the pleasure of working with Kendra and John in their quest to take control of their future and their time.  Below is Kendra’s story.

 “My name is Kendra and I have worked in environmental engineering consulting for the past ten years.  My partner, John, is a civil engineer who works mainly in construction management.  As we started looking at our future together we focused on incorporating each of our individual goals into our goals as a couple.  While my goals were more family oriented and wanting to control my own time and career development, John has always wanted to own his own business.  We decided to start exploring different business opportunities and took a short seminar on franchises to learn more about them, thinking maybe 5 years down the road we would start something.  We started working with Entrepreneur’s Source and were put into contact with several different franchises.  Mosquito Squad was very interesting to me especially since one of my summer jobs in college was with the Baltimore County Department of Agriculture, Mosquito Control Division, driving one of the spray trucks around.  The more we learned about Mosquito Squad and Outdoor Living Brands the more we liked them.  Although we didn’t go into the process with any kind of expectations, or even thinking we were going to buy a franchise, the opportunity was so great that we couldn’t let it pass us by.  The investment level was very reasonable and we know Annapolis has lots of mosquitoes!

 We signed up in September, completed training in December, got our first customer in March and will be heading out to do our first spray next week.  The whole process has been great.  There is stress involved, but the people at Outdoor Living Brands do their best to help you in any way possible.  John and I both work our full time jobs and plan on hiring people to work at Mosquito Squad once we have enough customers.  Coming from a science background I have had to learn a lot about business, accounting and marketing.  It takes up almost all of our free time but we hope the reward will be worth it.  It has made us work together as a team and allowed us to experience the joys and pains together.  We are looking forward to a great season and our excitement about Mosquito Squad is the same now as it was on Confirmation Day.” 

Take control of a precious commodity, your time and your future.  Consider franchising as a way to facilitate reaching the goals you have set for yourself and your family.  Starting your own business is not the easiest of tasks, but with the help of a support team to pave the path, you could be on the way to success quicker than you may think.

“I’m waiting to see what happens with the economy.”  As a Franchise Recruiter for Outdoor Living Brands, this is a common reason people state for not starting their own business and taking control of their own destiny.  “I would love to be my own boss, but what if . . .” Step back for a moment and ask this question – “Am I looking for excuses or answers?”

Does fortune truly favor the brave?  Entrepreneurs thrive on challenge and seek the positive attributes of any situation.  Consider the businesses that were started during a recession or depression that have thrived . . . Hewlett-Packard, Sports Illustrated, CNN,  GE, IHOP, Microsoft, Burger King, Fed Ex, MTV, Hyatt Corp, the list goes on and on.  New opportunities are born each day, even during tough economic times, but only those “brave” enough to view the economic situation as a positive will make that first step toward owning their own business.

 All businesses face challenges.  One challenge that has caused many companies to fail is the lack of planning.  We hear of companies that were lax in their spending, controls, systems, analysis, and structuring.  With companies having to “tighten their belts” many people are caught in the pinch.  When you start a business or are nurturing it through the infancy stage, your attention to detail and the key systems of your business is exceptionally strong.

Whether you are looking for a job or starting a business, you will face challenges.  Now add the ability to utilize many years of experience in developing, implementing, and monitoring systems to your arsenal.  Perhaps you are thinking “I don’t have many years of experience, and little or no exposure to those things.”  Franchising allows you the ability to have that experience and knowledge at your finger tips.    Put your determination, abilities, and drive to work for you.  Consider franchising as a way to start your own business.

Mary and Rich Crawford are the owners of the Mosquito Squad in Norfolk-Chesapeake VA. They are in their first season right now and we asked Mary “Why did you go with us?”

Mosquito Squad was the answer for me for many reasons.  First and foremost, I have three young children who are so important to me so I was looking for a great balance between being a Mom and having a career.  Mosquito Squad allows me to be my own boss and set my own schedule so I can be at home when my children get home from school.  I love the challenge and thrill of starting up my own business and trying to get as many customers as I can.  When I need help, I simply call “the mother ship” and they are always responsive and helpful.  It is comforting to know you have excellent support behind you!  I can’t say enough good things about everyone associated with Mosquito Squad.  We ( all the franchise owners)  have a great time together but more importantly, we are there for each other and actually do call each other for suggestions and help.  It is a great organization to be a part of,  Couldn’t be happier.

Mary Crawford

Mary’s Blog

Remember the time when your goal was to land a job working for a large corporation?  You would be set for life, retire young, and have awesome benefits.  Do you still believe that is the correct goal or path?  Are you confident your job is secure and the corporation is “solidy and healthy”?

Each day I spend a good deal of time interviewing potential business owners as a Franchise Recruiter for Outdoor Living Brands.  I hear many stories of how people feel they were mislead or mistreated by Corporate America.  Promises made were not kept, they were swept up in the “downsizing” or even some ethically questionable behavior has been experienced. 

Many clients come to me scorned and bitter.  “Had I have known” is a common phrase.  Is this the time for you step back, take a long look in the mirror and ask the question – “Do I really know what is happening on the corporate level?”  Perhaps the time is right for you to start making the decisions.  What decisions you may ask – the ones that will impact your future and your business.  Ultimately, you are one responsible for your and your family’s destiny.

I am currently working with a client who told me “I have always been making these same types of decisions, been held accountable for them, but haven’t really reaped the rewards for my great track record.”  This is one of the reasons he has turned to franchising as an option.  There are many franchise opportunities out there, and finding the right option for you will require some due diligence on your part.  Utilize your talents and strengths and put them to work for you.  If you are considering leaving Corporate America behind and taking control of your own destiny, consider franchising as an option.

There are thousands of franchise offerings for you to choose from, but not all are good opportunities.  In many instances you will find there are leaders and there are followers.  With a bit of research into a franchise, you can determine if you are considering being a part of a leading franchise concept or a following franchise concept.

Leadership characteristics are apparent and can not be falsified or stolen.  At Outdoor Living Brands, we look for franchisees who exhibit leadership qualities – those who lead by example and attract those who take ownership and accountability for all that they do.  Leaders can admit when they are wrong or in error; leaders solve problems instead of working around them; leaders are visionaries – striving to do better instead of pointing out that they are better than some or most; leaders listen and learn rather than trying to impress others by talking and searching for or pointing out flaws.  

Many have suffered the wrath of the follow or “glory grabber”.  When a leader determines there is a better way of completing a task, and begins the quest of determining that correct path, a follower lingers in the background until the leader is finished and rushes to present the idea as their own.  Followers are constantly looking for ways to take other’s ideas and present them as their own.  Some may even admit to “borrowing” an idea – perhaps an attempt to justify their lack of creativity or masking questionable ethical behavior. 

What happens when a follower is tasked with making improvements, explaining a concept, or “taking it to the next level”?  Phrases we are all too familiar with begin to rear their ugly heads . . . “It’s the way we’ve always done it”; “That’s the way it’s always been” or the dreaded “I only work here”.  When you are considering franchise concepts, take the time to determine if this concept and franchisor is a leader or a follower.  Leaders will be setting the standards and blazing the path to the future – followers will always be playing catch up or riding on the coat tails of the successful. 

All men may be created equal, but not all franchise concepts are.