2013 could turn out to be a terrific year to enter the world of franchise business ownership. \u00a0If you\u2019re thinking about exploring the idea of being your own boss, three things are in your favor if you decide to move forward. 1: Commercial Space Availability A lot of businesses have had to close their doors during the last couple of years, so there\u2019s an abundance of decent space available in most areas of the country. With a franchisors help, you should be able to find a great location to set up shop. 2: They\u2019re Dealing Franchise company executives have had to get rather creative to entice would-be franchise owners to sign on as franchisees. Most of the time, this \u201ccreativity\u201d comes in the form of a franchise fee discount. But, here\u2019s the thing: a discounted franchisee fee should by no means be the reason for buying a particular franchise. But, if you\u2019re seriously interested in a particular franchise and it just so happens to be one that\u2019s offering a \u201cdeal,\u201d you could come out a winner. Just make sure that you\u2019ve done great research. 3: Interest Rates Small business loan rates (as of this writing) are generally in the 3-5% range. The caveat: with approved credit. That means that you have to qualify, which may not be so easy. (See below) But, if you do qualify, that\u2019s really cheap money for a franchise business startup, and interest rates will eventually go back up. \u00a0Check out SBA.gov for up to date small business loan information. With those three things in mind, let\u2019s take a look at the top franchise trends for 2013: Financing I was really hoping that things would be better by now for would-be franchise business owners. And, as much as I hate repeating the same things over and over again, when it comes to the state of small business start-up lending, this is one drum that I must continue beating. \u00a0Now, one would think that with small business loans backed by the Small Business Administration reaching record levels ($30.5 billion - 61,689) it would be easier for potential franchise owners to borrow money. But, it\u2019s not. To combat the continued lack of significant lending to franchises, a few franchisors have decided to take matters in their own hands. It sure beats waiting for the major banks to loosen their underwriting requirements up. Forbes.com offers some great examples of franchisors getting into the finance game. For 2013, look for more franchisors to start aggressively looking outside of the more traditional lending sources for small business loan capital. Frozen Treats We love our ice cream. And unless you\u2019ve been avoiding retail plazas for the past couple of years, we obviously like our frozen yogurt, too. But why? For one, yogurt is considered to be a healthy dessert. Well, kind of. Read what The Food Network thinks. \u00a0Secondly, there are around 25 different franchisors currently offering frozen yogurt franchises. That fact alone has made some of us in the franchise industry wonder how long the frozen yogurt craze is going to last. \u00a0Restaurant industry analysts are wondering the same thing. On the other hand, I\u2019d be willing to wager that the franchise development teams at Menchie\u2019s, Red Mango, Yogurtini, and Yogen Fruz aren\u2019t thinking about a slowdown in frozen yogurt franchising at all. As a matter of fact, they\u2019re probably working extra hours just to keep up with all the inquiries they\u2019ve been getting from prospective franchise owners. I expect interest in becoming the owner of a frozen yogurt franchise to remain strong. At the same time, there won\u2019t be too many new frozen yogurt franchise concepts entering this increasingly crowded market. Disaster Cleanup One of the biggest news events in 2012 was Superstorm Sandy, and the historic impact it had on cities and towns in the Northeast. \u00a0Cleanup efforts will go on for months in areas hit hardest by this huge storm. \u00a0And, some scientists are predicting that powerful storms like Sandy will become more commonplace in the months and years to come. This could be a great time to get into the disaster cleanup and restoration business. And, please don\u2019t suggest that I\u2019m encouraging you to go into business to take advantage of the pain and misery that\u2019s experienced by others when large-scale disasters happen. \u00a0Here\u2019s an old sales axiom that may help you understand where I\u2019m coming from: \u201cFish where the fish are.\u201d In other words, if you\u2019re going to invest your hard-earned money in a franchise business, any type of business for that matter, look to the ones that provide products and services that are actually needed. \u00a0Here\u2019s a partial list of franchises that focus on cleanup and restoration: Paul Davis Restoration Restoration 1 Rainbow International 1-800-Water Damage ServPro Puroclean Franchises in this segment are starting to get noticed more, and if we continue to get episodes of extreme weather in the next year, they\u2019ll really be on the radar screens of franchise buyers. Education When the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act was signed into law in 2001, tutoring franchise operators quickly filled out the necessary state paperwork required to be approved as vendors. \u00a0That\u2019s because part of the NCLB act included government funds for after school tutoring from approved vendors. \u00a0And having money coming in from the government was a pretty nice alternative to the original tutoring model which required, (and still does) payment from parents for the services. Currently, though, there\u2019s an ongoing debate about NCLB, and the funding that it receives. It could end up that funding for after-school tutoring programs will decrease. If that happens, the tutoring industry could take a pretty big hit. Except that I actually don\u2019t think that the tutoring industry, especially the franchise segment of tutoring, will be impacted all that much if a lot of the government funding disappears. Here\u2019s why: \u00a0A lot of kids struggle with the science and math of today. Whether or not government funding is available doesn\u2019t change the absolute need for tutoring services to exist. One has nothing to do with the other. That\u2019s why tutoring franchises like Tutor Doctor continue to grow rapidly. \u00a0Some of the other tutoring franchises include: Huntington Learning Centers Kumon Mathnasium Eye Level ClubZ For 2013, more tutoring franchises will start taking advantage of readily available online learning technology. Franchisees will start offering their customers online tutoring as an option, and at a lower price point than traditional face-to-face tutoring. Technology Services Today\u2019s small business owners are embracing technology-and its power, like never before. They know that it\u2019s almost impossible to remain competitive these days without it. \u00a0But, busy business owners don\u2019t always know what the best tools are for their individual needs. And, they can\u2019t keep up with every new and improved technology that comes down the pike. That\u2019s where franchise businesses like Teamlogic IT and CMIT Solutions come into play. Franchisees have the opportunity to offer some of the latest products and services that are designed to help businesses run more efficiently-and safely. \u00a0But, businesses can\u2019t run at capacity unless their technology is working. Sometimes, things break. Computer Troubleshooters is just one of several franchises that provides repair services for computers and other types of technology located at work-or at home. Others include: Geeks on Call Fast-teks Franchises in this sector will add numerous mobile technology products and services for their franchisees to offer their customers in 2013. That\u2019s because today\u2019s small business owners need to reach and sell to their clients and customers where they are these days - on their smartphones and tablets. Thousands of different franchise opportunities are available today, with new concepts rolling out all the time. The trick is to choose one that makes sense for you...which allows you to utilize your best skills. Once you\u2019ve done that, make sure that you have several conversations with current and former franchisees of the concept you\u2019re looking into as part of your due diligence. Then, run the numbers, but don\u2019t forget to include what I call, \u201cset aside money.\u201d You\u2019ll need to have enough money set aside to take care of your living expenses for several months, while your new business gets up and running. Finally, continue to do what you\u2019re doing right now - getting educated about franchise industry trends and learning how to go about purchasing a franchise. Who knows? Maybe 2013 will be the year that you take control of your career, and become an owner.