It can be a great feeling to finally narrow down your choice in a franchise to own. You’ve spent months searching for a “perfect” franchise opportunity. You’ve (hopefully) convinced those around you – family members included, that owning a franchise is the right thing for you to do.
You’ve thought about the money part of the equation long and hard. You’ve even thought about the end game – your exit strategy.
And, now that you’ve picked a franchise you’d really like to own, you’re focused on next steps. You’re focused on getting to the finish line so you can open your new franchise business up. There’s work to be done. Some of things you’ll need to do will require a monetary investment.
But some won’t, if you use the free resources I’m about to share with you.
After You Choose A Franchise, Visit These Resources
While this article is focused on 3 free resources for you to use after you choose a franchise, please understand that there will be things you’ll need to spend money on in order to open your franchise business up…just not yet.
In the meantime, I encourage you to take advantage of the following resources, which are free.
Your Local SBDC
You probably have a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) within driving distance of your residence.
SBDC’s provide assistance to aspiring small business owners throughout the United States. Funding comes from the Small Business Administration, in combination with the local universities and economic development centers where SBDC’s are located.
Your local SBDC offers a variety of free business consulting assistance with things like small business loan packaging, business plan development, market research, and even healthcare plan guidance. (Most of the programs are free-but some do have a minimal cost associated with them.)
I’ve sent clients to their local SBDC offices in the past, and most of them they were able to get help with their franchise startup needs. Clients were able to learn about things like area demographics, and gain an understanding of their local business climates.
When my business was focused more locally, I had good relationships with local SBDC’s, and found them to be great resources for people that were interested in starting businesses. My contacts had very solid connections with local lenders, and they provided me with several meaningful introductions that proved useful for franchise candidates of mine who needed small business loans.
You can find a listing of every SBDC office, here.
Score Free Advice With Score
For almost a half a century, SCORE, a nonprofit association, has been dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.
Score was established in 1964. The organization’s acronym, Service Corps of Retired Executives, while memorable, hasn’t been used for years, according to its Miami-Dade office.
What is memorable, however, is the sheer amount of volunteers who go out of their way to help would-be small business owners launch their businesses – 11,000. That’s right. Over 11,000 volunteers in 320 chapters around the U.S. offer business expertise that today’s future, and even current, small business owners need.
SCORE volunteers will meet with you in-person, for free, to provide mentoring. In addition, you can pose questions to volunteers via email, right on the SCORE website. All you have to do is type in your question then choose the SCORE mentor that best meets that need.
Funding for SCORE comes from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) was created by Congress in 1953 with the passing of the Small Business Act.
The SBA was set up to “aid, counsel, assist and protect, insofar as is possible, the interests of small business concerns.” In addition, the charter also stipulated that the SBA would ensure small businesses a “fair proportion” of government contracts and sales of surplus property.
Today, the SBA is known for providing guarantees for certain small business loans, sometimes up to 85% of the loan amount. Guarantees are different than actual loans. Banks make the loans, the SBA is the guarantor.
Once you’ve agreed to buy the franchise you’ve been investigating, if you need a loan, your lender will probably end up offering you a 7 (a) SBA loan.
But, before you apply for a small business loan of any type, it’s important for you to learn all you can about them. It’s easy to do, courtesy of SBA.gov. As a matter of fact, all sorts of topics relating to starting a business of any type – including a franchise business – abound on the SBA website. And, the information is free.
You can even take online courses on starting and running a small business right from the SBA website.
There’s a lot of work to be done after you choose a franchise. I encourage you to get a head start on it using the free resources provided in this article. The sooner you can get the information you need to start your business, the sooner you’ll be able to open for business.
Burger King Franchise Photo via Shutterstock