1. Are you capable of owning a business?
2. Can owning a business help you achieve your goals?
3. Is a particular business you're looking at going to be a good match for you?
The first step is to ask yourself whether or not you're cut out for business ownership. Are you comfortable with being the boss? Are you comfortable with being ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your business? Are you willing to work long hours and endure anxiety during the early startup months or years of a new business? Even though you've been out of the corporate world for a while, you need to make sure you're thinking of getting a business because the characteristics are attractive to you, not just because you haven't yet been able to find a job.
Assuming that this is the right step for you, you'll need to decide what results you want to accomplish in your life through business ownership. What are your goals in terms of income, lifestyle and other considerations? You'll want to have a clear idea of your end point so you can use that picture as a tool to evaluate opportunities you investigate. Can this business take you where you want to go?
The final step is fairly easy by comparison. Once you have a clear idea of what result you want, you can start looking at industries and then later at individual companies. Focus first on the franchisee role in any given industry to make sure it matches what you want to do (and don't fall into the trap of assuming that the franchisee role has anything to do with delivering the product or service to the consumer). When you find roles that are interesting to you, take the time to look into the companies in more detail to see if you can achieve your ultimate dream through purchasing that business.
If not, then don't settle. As long as your desired results are reasonable, you'll find a good franchise for you if you keep looking.
Related: Which Is Better: A Job or a Franchise?
Related: Should 'Franchisee' Be Your Next Job Title?
Jeff Elgin has almost 20 years of experience franchising, both as a franchisee and a senior franchise company executive. He's currently the CEO of FranChoice Inc., a company that provides free consulting to consumers looking for a franchise that best meets their needs.