Franchise Buying Guide

The Choice Is Yours

Should you buy a franchise, a business opportunity, or go it alone? Don't leave this important decision to chance.
Presented by Guidant Financial
Guidant Financial specializes in helping entrepreneurs purchase new franchises using their retirement funds.

Do you want to be an entrepreneur. Just how do you get started? This is the question facing almost anyone looking to get into their own business, and there are basically three answers: Buy a franchise, invest in a business opportunity, or start an independent business from scratch.

Franchises appeal to those who need more structure and support when they get started, and who are looking for an established business name and mode of operation. Business opportunities are more for those looking to ease into a business--something that can be started as a sideline and that comes with a set of instructions on how to begin. Independent start-ups appeal to more self-sufficient and aggressive people--folks who know they like to do things their own way, right from square one. Each option offers different advantages, but the key to making the right choice is to "know yourself first."

As the president of the Venture Association of New Jersey, a business-networking group, and a senior partner with the Morristown, New Jersey-based Trien, Rosenberg accounting firm, Jay Trien has been both an entrepreneur and an advisor to many small businesses. Trien says that those more independent in nature are best served by independent start-ups, which are essentially riskier but give a bigger potential payoff, while those more cautious and bound by rules are more likely to succeed if they play it a little safer by investing in a franchise.

"The classic example is the two guys who started a personal-computer business; did they know they would build Apple Computers?" Trien says. "The opportunities are unlimited with an independent start-up, but you've got a lot more at risk, too, because you've got to learn everything on your own."

Interestingly, Trien says that potential investors are often attracted to independent start-ups because of the nature of entrepreneurs who start a business from scratch. He says that people starting their own business are often attempting to prove themselves right about an idea, and the enterprise becomes an outgrowth of that personal process.

"Their business is an extension of their personality or their emotional needs rather than just a way to make a lot of money," Trien says. "Most venture capitalists I know like those types of entrepreneurs better than the guys who just want to get rich quick. If the energy of someone who wants to prove their idea is right can be harnessed to basic business disciplines, that enterprise can be very attractive to investors."

Glen Weisman explored the fine points of dealing with suppliers in the December issue of Business Start-Ups.

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Choice Is Yours.

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