Start with the franchisor. They've been through the process with other franchisees before, and many have internal programs to assist franchisees. These might include:
- Leasing programs for equipment
- Leasing programs for your building and/or land
- Financing programs provided by suppliers to the franchise system
- Deferral of all or a part of the initial franchise fee due to the franchisor
If the franchisor is a manufacturer of the products you'll be selling, it might provide an initial fill of inventory or provide you with longer than standard terms to pay for your initial inventory.
Most established franchisors also have working relationships with lenders and other financing companies that are familiar with their business and are willing to provide funding for qualified individuals. Some franchisors provide the loans directly; others act as guarantors.
Not all these programs are offered by every franchisor, but they're worth asking about.