Information Please

Know Thyself

Take a few minutes to do a personal inventory of your goals and resources. Think about what it is that really lights your fire. Passion is a driving force in our lives, and that's never as true as in business ownership. If you have a passion for your work, it'll carry you far.

If you need help assembling this personal evaluation information, sit down with a trusted friend, an advisor, your spouse or someone you now with business experience, and outline your resourses, strengths and weaknesses, as well as your financial resources. Talk concept and listen carefully. You need a reality check here. Don't necessarily accept what you hear, but take it into account. What type of business activities play to your strengths? Can your advisor see you pursuing a certain type of business? Would you be better-suited for a business-to-business sales situation or a retail setup? Are you good with people, a good public speaker? Are you detail-oriented? Can you afford to run a business? Can you afford to fail? What's your level of risk tolerance?

This information will be very helpful when you start to narrow your franchise search. By maintaining a clear focus on your fundamental interests, you won't be pulled off-track by the distractions you encounter during your quest.

Take To The Streets

Now for the fun part: Apply your personal goals to the franchise market. For a quick start, attend a franchise trade show--they're a terrific way to gather a lot of preliminary information and survey the field in a short period of time, and you can find them in most good-sized cities.

When attending a franchise trade show, keep a few thoughts in mind. First, remember the companies exhibiting at the show by no means make up the entire universe of franchise opportunities. In fact, these events showcase only a small selection of the available franchise programs. Second, you should take full advantage of the information available. Stop by the booths of all the companies that fit the business profile you outlined in your goal-planning sessions. Leave your name and address with those companies that interest you. Ask questions, and listen carefully to the answers. Gather handouts and take notes. You'll get a good feel for franchise discourse, the questions to ask and the key sales points in any program.

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