It’s important to consider the facts before you commit to operating a franchise from the comfort of your own home, says David Banfield, president of The Interface Financial Group
There are a number of benefits to home based franchising, especially for those who may not have a great deal of capital to invest. While most franchises require a buyer to locate and transform a location in order to begin trading, home based franchising offers an alternative with significantly less overheads.
Not only are you likely to save a significant amount on rent, the very nature of home based franchising often means that no special equipment is needed. In fact, it’s frequently the case that only a computer with an internet connection and a phone line - items that are found in the majority of homes today - are required in order to operate successfully. This means that, unlike other businesses where capital can quickly become tied up in equipment and property, you will in fact have greater working capital to run and grow your franchise.
Those who trade from home often find themselves to be more productive, thanks to a variety of factors. As those operating in this environment usually do so without the need for on site staff, the interruptions from co-workers are minimised or sometimes eliminated entirely.
There have been several links made between commuting and productivity. Research shows that in busy cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester workers spend up to 75 minutes commuting. This has been proven to result in higher employee stress and lower levels of motivation. It has also been suggested that those who do not make a daily commute actually spend more time working overall - spending their ‘journey time’ already at their desks.
Even factors which appear less important such as a relaxed dress code and working in a familiar surrounding can attribute to a positive attitude, which in turn leads to a more productive working day.
Another advantage of home based franchising is the flexibility the venue offers. Frequently seen as the perfect choice for those with young children or looking to transition into retirement, home based franchising allows you to work flexible hours, quite often taking on as much or as little work as you are comfortable with, allowing you to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Due to its flexible nature, a home based franchise is also the best choice for more cautious franchisees looking to set up their own businesses while still maintaining a part time occupation. Home based franchisees are also much more likely to experience professional growth, as they are given the opportunity to take on every role within the business. No matter the job title, being your own boss and working from your own home will always allow you to experience new avenues and challenges within your career.
One of the most beneficial aspects of working from home is the personal relationships you are able to cultivate with clients and customers. Instead of calling at an office and dealing with any number of colleagues, this one on one relationship helps to develop a sense of trust and understanding between the two parties. Another important consideration that comes from working at home is tax allowances. Franchisees can receive up to £216 per year in tax benefits in order to cover the costs of additional gas and electric and business calls. Be sure to check with your professional advisers about this and other possible tax advantages.
Although there are many different types of franchises that can be operated from home, most opportunities tend to fall into the following categories:
* Professional and financial services.
* Business consultancy.
It’s important to consider that even these home based roles will not allow you to simply stay within your own four walls at all times. In many cases, you will be required to travel to client meetings, especially as most franchisees will not be able to accommodate a meeting room within their home.
In addition to the lack of meeting space, some clients or customers may believe that franchisees working from home are somehow less professional than those working in an office environment. Although this is one of the main pitfalls, it can be easily overcome by building up a good working relationship with your clients.
Another difficulty that some people face when moving into any kind of franchising, and especially the home based variety, is dealing with a lack of structure. Although franchisees will always have the support of their franchisor, working outside of an official environment sometimes makes managing your workload difficult - especially when you consider that in most cases you will be the only staff member.
Although co-workers can sometimes cause distractions, without them there is less opportunity to share ideas, which can lead to a lack of innovation and imagination, particularly in more creative industries.
A lack of support staff can also be a disadvantage when it comes to office administration and procedures such as IT and finance. Without dedicated staff taking responsibility for these tasks, you may be left feeling you are taking on a lot of different roles within the business and you could quickly become overwhelmed if this is not something you are used to juggling.
For most, the main issue that arises from home based franchising lies with self motivation. Working at home means it is easy to be distracted by factors that wouldn’t cause a disturbance in an external environment. Flexible working hours mean you may be tempted to spend more time away from your desk - with family, catching up on chores or simply in front of the television. It’s easy to get distracted when big brother isn’t watching.
Like all businesses, home based franchises have their advantages and pitfalls. One way in which franchisees can attempt to diminish the pressures of working from home is to run a franchise as a pair. Whether you take on a business as a couple or with an associate, you are essentially creating a management team, each with your own responsibilities.
Another strategy for making the most of working from home is to schedule a strict timetable and not deviate from what you have initially planned.
Working from home requires a motivated self starter who knows how to multitask and get the job done. Above everything else, it calls for self discipline, so you need to carefully analyse your own skills, work traits and ambitions to ensure they are realistic and manageable. Creating a well thought out business plan is essential when you think about entrepreneurism and self employment.