Especially in today's tough market, you need to pay attention to the dollars side of the business. Start up financing is virtually nonexistent, so you'll need to define a "reasonable" investment pretty much from personal resources that you currently have available. Figuring out what is a "reasonable" income and a "reasonable" time frame to accomplish this income is also a matter of personal determination. It is essential that you balance these two considerations so that you have sufficient resources to make the initial investment and also pay for your lifestyle while waiting for the business income to grow.

Finding a franchisee role that suits you requires some thought prior to beginning your investigations. You need to figure out what you like doing in a business role, what you're good at, what you hate doing or aren't good at, what hours you want to work, what sorts and numbers of employees you are comfortable managing, and other workstyle preferences. There are many factors involved in forming the franchisee role in any business, so you need to ask lots of questions to determine a typical "day in the life" of a franchisee before buying any franchise.

For more on sizing up a franchise, check out the tips and advice on Entrepreneur's How to Buy a Franchise page.