Here's How You Can Tell Which Franchise Opportunity Is Best for You

There are 7 franchise systempreneur personality types — knowing yourself can help you select the best franchise opportunity for you

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By Alicia Miller

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Franchise ownership is about being a systempreneur more than an entrepreneur. If you value following a system and want to start your own business, franchising could be a great fit. How do you find the right franchise for your personality and goals? Get in touch with your systempreneur spirit animal. I have observed seven basic systempreneur franchisee personality types:

  1. Inventor

  2. Maverick

  3. Empire Builder

  4. Passive Investor

  5. Community Builder

  6. Escape Artist

  7. Turnaround Artist

These categories may not be mutually exclusive, but one likely dominates. Let's discuss the characteristics of each type below:

Related: Which Franchise is Right For You? Follow These Steps

1. The Inventor — a "true" entrepreneur

You like to create. You don't need or don't want a playbook. If a process exists, you tend to ignore it or reverse engineer it to find a better way. You dream of new products, brands and businesses.

Franchising is all about system conformity. Since you chafe under someone else's rules, being a franchisee is probably not a fit. However, starting a franchise from scratch (assuming you like the franchise model as a market expansion strategy) is something to consider. You will invent systems and processes for others to follow. But you will be the creator.

2. The Maverick

You want existing systems because you value speed and expedience. You're also okay with a bit less structure because you're an early adopter and an energetic self-starter. You like to stake out prime territory first. You were likely promoted many times in your corporate life because you delivered the goods and got noticed. Or you could be a serial entrepreneur.

Focus your franchise search on:

  • Emerging brands (ensure they have enough processes in place)

  • Regional brands

  • Area and master developer opportunities

De-prioritize or avoid:

  • Mature brands

3. The Empire Builder

The empire builder is the truest personification of a franchise systempreneur. You're a self-starter and want to build grand scale and wealth. You are likely to be competitive, demanding, energetic, fast-moving, extremely methodical and strategic. Your greatest skills are usually team-building, operations, leadership, planning and deal-making. You appreciate adapting existing systems so you can focus on team development, operational excellence and capital planning. This allows you to grab every great opportunity, especially acquisitions. Most large multi-unit franchise operators exhibit this personality type. Over time, these leaders create a management team and support systems that often rival or exceed the franchisor's. Some large operators buy whole brands outright.

Focus your franchise search on:

  • Multi-unit-friendly brands with well-established operating processes

  • Established brands with available white space

  • Area developer opportunities

  • Highly scalable businesses that can be run profitably through professional managers

  • Consolidation opportunities in solid brands

  • Whole brand acquisitions

De-prioritize or avoid:

  • Emerging brands with immature systems

  • Turnarounds at the brand level

  • Owner-operator models

Related: Busting Franchising Myths and Choosing the Right Opportunity

4. The Passive Investor

You don't want to put in full-time effort. You want to diversify but also keep your job, another business, or you're semi-retired. While some models are built for passive franchisees, remember that the startup phase will still be extremely hands-on.

Focus your franchise search on:

  • Models designed for passive investors

  • "Operator for hire" models as a paid service to run the business

  • Acquiring and consolidating existing, well-performing units under a proven management team

  • Minority investment opportunities

  • Real estate investments with franchise tenants

De-prioritize or avoid:

  • Owner-operator models

  • Unproven passive models

5. The Community Builder

You want to make a difference. You dream of running a business that feels a certain way. You value building a close-knit team as an end to itself. Profitability may be a secondary consideration.

Focus your franchise search on:

  • Concepts that emphasize community networking and marketing

  • Concepts where customers and employees value being part of the brand community (e.g. fitness, pet care, healthy food, etc.)

De-prioritize or avoid:

  • Completely passive models

  • Work-at-home models with little community interaction

  • "Transactional" models

6. The Escape Artist

Many franchisees would rather work 80 hours a week for themselves than 40 for someone else. But the escape artist franchisee archetype is unique. You want as little oversight as possible, even within a franchising context. You may also seek physical freedom; you don't want to be chained to a desk. Your weakness is your willingness to overlook weak franchisee support because you don't plan to utilize it much anyway.

Focus your franchise search on:

  • Mobile, part-time and work-from-home models

  • Emerging brands

  • Field-based concepts

  • Passive franchise models, the ultimate in flexibility

  • Franchises without defined territories (opportunism over exclusivity)

De-prioritize or avoid:

  • Concepts with fixed schedules or surprise emergency hours (you could get called in)

  • Models with full-time, "best effort" requirements or performance minimums

  • Concepts with rigid health and safety requirements (oversight, licensing and auditing are inseparable)

  • Retail-based businesses (fixed costs and hours)

Related: How to Choose the Best Franchise to Own in 2022

7. The Turnaround Artist

You are a stone-cold operator who can quickly diagnose and treat nearly any business ailment. You are comfortable with — and even attracted to — complicated business problems. You have a proven track record and your own playbook to get faltering businesses or units back on track. You like to buy low, turn things around and sell high. You may have real estate, bankruptcy workout, finance, operations or other relevant experience. Franchising attracts many operators like you because even within proven systems, there are always some franchisees who are under-capitalized or don't follow the system and exit otherwise good territories.

Focus your franchise search on:

  • Rolling up weak units in strong brands with good unit-level economics

  • Emerging brands (turnaround operators can generally compensate for immaturity)

  • Sectors where "turnaround" work is baked into the delivery model itself (e.g., disaster restoration, home renovation)

  • Whole brand acquisitions of otherwise good concepts that can be turned around

De-prioritize or avoid:

  • Mature brands without a turnaround opportunity

The correct franchise fit requires honesty and self-awareness. Check in with those who know you best. It is tempting to ascribe (perhaps unconsciously) unrealized aspirations to this exercise. Being a maverick sounds great, but are you really? Leverage your unique gifts and strengths to create your version of success. And of course, do thorough due diligence and speak to as many franchisees as possible. Whatever your passions, you want a strong return.

Alicia Miller

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder & Managing Director of Catalyst Insight Group

Alicia Miller is co-founder and is managing director of Catalyst Insight Group, a boutique strategic advisory firm with deep expertise in franchising. She works with founders, franchisors, family offices and private equity clients to accelerate brands while ensuring business longevity.

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