With unemployment rates remaining high, many young professionals are striking out on their own. While these youthful entrepreneurs all have their own reasons for starting up a business — they found no jobs in their field after graduating from college, they found a job but their corporation later downsized, or they simply wanted to set their own work agenda — many have turned to owning a franchise .
Because they don’t have decades of business experience under their belts, they say becoming a franchisee can provide them with the backup they need while they make the most of their energy and enthusiasm.
“You have the brand name behind you, but you bring your own professionalism and commitment to excellence to the business, and by doing the job right you ensure that there is a job waiting for you the next day,” said Aaron Dilley, 24, who switched career tracks from schoolteacher to franchisee.
Dilley owns a Best in Class Education Center franchise in Bothell, Wash. The company specializes in providing mathematics and English tutoring, either as a remedial measure or for the client's enrichment.
“You have the freedom to make your career whatever you want it to be, and there are so many areas where you can pursue your dream,” Dilley said.
A trained educator, Dilley said he saw a lack of passion in the public school system, which led him to switch gears to become a business owner.
His advice is not to stray too far from what you know. “Have a dream and a vision first and don’t just look for any franchise that will take you,” he said. He suggested choosing a franchise that suits your personality and work style.
He said young franchisees should be prepared to address questions about their perceived lack of experience. “Being young is both an advantage and a challenge,” he said. “When you are a younger business owner , you are going to be met with a certain level of skepticism that you lack experience and knowledge to run your own business. It is your job to assure people that you know what you're doing.”
Others also have advice for young prospective franchisees. For instance, they should look for business opportunities in which they can make the most of their technological skills.
“My generation was brought up with technology,” explained Brenton Hayden, 26, founder/CEO of Renters Warehouse. Hayden's company, based in Golden Valley, Minn., offers property-management franchises. “When I got into this business, it was to some degree a good-old-boys club, and there were many people in the business who had been doing it for a long time. I saw the opportunity to integrate new technology into the business of rent collection and coordination of maintenance needs as a way to bring a higher level of service to clients.”
While it is important for young franchisees to have confidence, it has to be tempered with a willingness to learn from their peers.
“You can bring all of the confidence you want to your business, and you should, but you also have to have the skills and knowledge to back it up,” said new Honest-1 Auto Care franchisee Erik Rhyne. The 30-year old entrepreneur plans to open his franchise in Greensboro, N.C., this winter.
Do your homework
While some young franchisees are eager to get up and running, don’t neglect to do your homework before jumping in, said Reha Modi, 31, owner of a Mathnasium franchise in Santa Monica, Calif. The franchise focuses on tutoring math skills. “I think the more research you do and the more you learn about the product or service, overall the more success you're going to have,” Modi said.
She also advised young franchisees to maintain their enthusiasm after opening the doors. “Energy is especially important, especially in the beginning. It will drive your success in interactions with your clients and employees. Students and parents can feel the passion I have for what I do every day, and the energy is contagious. You have to keep it up.”