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3 Ways to Get on The Road to Franchising — And How to Find the Right Business For You Although franchising contributes significantly to the US economy, most US business schools lack dedicated franchising curriculums. These three sources will help you get started and find out which franchise is right for you.

By Alicia Miller Edited by Carl Stoffers

Key Takeaways

  • Despite franchising's significant contribution to the U.S. GDP, most business schools still do not offer dedicated franchising curriculums.
  • For those interested in franchising, there are several avenues to gain knowledge and insights.
  • A growing number of universities are beginning to offer franchising courses or concentrations.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The business school I attended had no classes on franchising and, 20 years later, still doesn't. Entrepreneurship classes, yes. Finance, of course. Real estate, yes. But nothing about franchising. There were a few case studies about franchising sprinkled through marketing courses, but that was it.

It's a big miss. Franchising represents three percent of US GDP and has global reach. It's a vibrant sector in which to build a big career or entrepreneurial venture. So, what are the options to learn about franchising best practices and make smart investing choices?

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

Franchise industry organizations

First – start with the International Franchise Association, (IFA) both the Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) program and IFA-sponsored events. Classes are held in person and online. The IFA also offers many opportunities to learn and meet people with franchise experience. Networking at IFA events is one of the best ways to learn how others create franchising success.

There are several franchise expos around the US and around the globe where franchisors and suppliers come together to meet with prospective franchisee candidates. Most expos offer free classes and talks about various aspects of franchising, including how to choose and finance your franchise business. Walking the floor and talking to franchisors is a good way to get a sense of the breadth of options, investment ranges, and operating models.

There are myriad online resources to help with your franchise journey, besides Entrepreneur. For example, how do you know whether franchisees are satisfied with their investment, corporate management team, and the future? Franchise Business Review provides franchisee survey results.

It's important to review Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDDs) carefully, including going back several years so you can see changes over time. A great site for this is Vetted Biz, which also includes analysis and comparisons of different franchise concepts. You can also get free franchise disclosure documents from several state websites.

Even if you're not going into the restaurant business, Restaurant Business Online has excellent reporting and covers information broadly applicable to the franchise industry including regulations and consumer trends. This company primarily serves corporate users, private equity firms, and lenders, but is an excellent source of information about overall franchise industry trends and statistics.

Related: Find Out Which Brands Have Ranked on the Franchise 500 for Longest, Earning a Spot In our New 'Hall of Fame'

Franchise start-up guides

On my website, I provide a free list of suggested questions to ask franchisees to get you started. The Federal Trade Commission published a guide to buying a franchise, and several states, including California and Maryland, have published franchise-buying guides as well. They are useful resources no matter where you reside.

Check your own state's website for franchising information, business start-up guides, business licensing requirements, funding resources, state-specific regulations, and other helpful information. For example, Texas and Ohio provide small business start-up guides.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has many helpful guides and resources, including templates to help you build your business plan. Also, remember to check your state Chamber of Commerce as well as your local Small Business Development Centers (run by the SBA) for funding options and start-up advice and assistance.

Related: Don't Make These 5 Risky Franchise Ownership Mistakes

University-level options

Many colleges and universities do not offer degrees or classes on franchising. However, a growing list of options is becoming available and more prospective franchisees are taking classes in franchising before they invest in a franchise business. Here are a few of the major ones:

Yum! Brands endowed the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence at the University of Louisville (U of L), as a part of their $100 million Unlocking Opportunity diversity initiative across the world, launched in 2021. U of L is the only university with franchise certifications at the graduate, undergraduate, and professional educational levels.

The Tariq Farid Franchise Institute at Babson College provides university courses, research, and executive education on franchising. The franchising program is attached to Babson's entrepreneurship program, consistently rated as a top MBA and undergraduate entrepreneurial program.

Finally, Palm Beach Atlantic University's franchise classes draw from its business school. According to Dr. John Hayes of the school's Titus Center for Franchising, "It is a concentration in franchising (not a major or minor) and the concentration appears on students' university transcripts. It provides the opportunity to customize what you want to study. We are working on online education options as well."

Alicia Miller

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder & Managing Director, Emergent Growth Advisors

Alicia Miller is the founder of Emergent Growth Advisors and author of Big Money in Franchising: Scaling Your Enterprise in the Era of Private Equity. She advises franchisors and multi-unit operators on growth and transformation challenges and advises private capital firms pre- and post-transaction.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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