The Fear Factor of Starting a Franchise

Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Reaching Your Goals

Fear is natural. It’s hardwired into our DNA as humans. It’s what kept us from getting eaten by predators. Many studies have confirmed that decisions are driven far more by fear than they are by reward. It makes sense–I would probably avoid going to pick an apple if I saw a hungry lion in the vicinity of the fruit.

So fear is natural and can explain why people go through the whole process of looking for and finding a great franchise opportunity, seeking the rewards and lifestyle of business ownership, but then back out at the last minute, paralyzed by the fear of failure.

The only problem with fear is when you allow it to stop you from doing something you know will make a positive difference in your life.

Fear is Normal…For Most People

Who has fear? Everyone! Fear prevents us (most of us, anyway) from jumping out of a moving car or going over a waterfall in a barrel. Fear helps us make choices that are less likely to endanger our lives. Fear also prevents us from gambling our life’s savings on a horse race or marrying someone we’ve known only a few days. There are certainly outliers like Alex Honnold, who without a rope climbed El Capitan, a sheer granite-faced mountain in Yosemite National Park, but those of us who are not missing our fear receptors deal with everyday things in a different manner.

Despite the natural fear we all experience, when we feel we have enough information about a subject, we can often get over fear and do things that are beyond our comfort zone. By studying the data and statistics, we can overcome fear and seek the reward; hence the reason many millions of people are able to start a business while understanding the possibility of failure.

Buying a franchise is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make so feeling fear is not only normal, it is entirely appropriate to the situation

According to Susan Jeffers, author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, when fear or anxiety crop up during the decision making process, you need to ask yourself if the feelings are caused by 1) fear that you can’t handle the new situation; or 2) doubts because you don’t feel you have enough information. The second answer is easier to deal with. If you have doubts about a course of action you want to take, make a list of all the questions you have and then find the answers. If, however, you are dealing with internal fears, you will need to come up with an internal solution.

Mitigating Risk Through Due Diligence

Here are some examples gathered from people who have gone through the franchise purchasing process – both as a franchise buyer and as a consultant helping others select franchise businesses to buy:

After working as a consultant with franchise candidates for years and spending countless hours helping them get over their fear of buying a franchise, Jennifer and her husband bought their own franchise several months ago. “I managed to get through the franchise research and purchasing process with a minimum of anxiety,” Jennifer says. “However, now that we are getting close to opening the business, I find I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I’ve done the right thing.

“With my candidates, I find that fear can occur at any time during the process and I expect it to happen. I will tell my candidates upfront that if they don’t feel fear and anxiety at some point, then I will worry about them because fear is normal.

“The number one fear is about money. Most of the people I work with have been in the corporate world for 20 to 30 years and, while dissatisfied with their current status quo, they still have a certain comfort level that they are not anxious to give up. They can predict their future in their current position but owning a franchise, while potentially more beneficial, still falls into the category of the unknown.”

One solid piece of advice from Jennifer to potential franchise buyers is that when they feel fear, the first thing they need to ask themselves is what information they need in order to feel comfortable and then ask those questions of the franchisor. If the answers are satisfactory, the candidate should accept the fear as something that will go away and move forward.

Building Confidence in Yourself

There are times when just having the facts are just not enough. What happens when the franchisor has answered all of your questions but you still can’t calm that little voice of doom inside your head?

Jason, who has owned several franchise concepts, has two suggestions for anyone looking to buy a franchise. First, he recommends they do a lot of reading about marketing so that they will develop a sense of what it takes to be successful.

“I think a key to moving beyond fear is to project yourself into the franchisee role by thinking about sites, managers, staffing and marketing. If you do your homework and feel confident you can kickstart your business, fear will soon be replaced by excitement.”

Second, Jason also suggests that people make a minimum of ten validation calls to existing franchisees. This helps them understand all the possible land mines in the process and will also allow them to connect with franchisees they may be able to use as role models and mentors.

“Because I’ve purchased franchises myself, I understand how big an issue fear can be. But if an individual does their homework and is willing to put in the time and effort to give the business a great start, the fear will go away.”

A Little Fear is Good

Experienced fear manager, Matt has been buying and selling businesses since 1993 and after dozens of purchases he still has anxiety with each decision.

“I got to the point where I named the little green man sitting on my shoulder ‘Louie’ so that when he started to tell me I was making a terrible mistake, I could remember that it was Louie’s job to question my decisions but I didn’t have to listen to him.

“When I talk to people about researching a franchise, I let them know that not only will they feel fear at some point but that it can manifest itself in a number of different ways. One common way people deal with fear is to make no decision at all. By not making a decision, they avoid dealing with the fear but also may lose out on a chance to really make the life change they’ve been wanting.

“Preparing yourself to be ready for fear to rear its head is an important part of the investigation process. Individuals need to ask themselves if they are prepared to make a decision if their logic tells them it is the right decision ─ even if their ‘Louie’ is telling them to wait and think about it some more.”

Don’t Forget Your Why

When dealing with fear it is imperative to remember that the decision-making process is not foolproof. Sometimes we become focused on making the right decision or we fear making the wrong decision when there really is no such thing.

You can make your validation calls and write your lists and ask your questions but making the final decision still requires you to bridge the last five percent with confidence that you can overcome unknown obstacles. Every business has them and entrepreneurs know that letting every potential obstacle keep you from moving forward will result in never moving forward. Don’t forget your reasons that started your journey and see it through.

Hedging Your Bets – The Franchise System

One of the reasons people choose to buy a franchise as their entry into the world of business ownership is because a franchise provides many important benefits it would be difficult to develop on their own, such as a proven operations system, a recognizable brand name or marketing expertise. They’ve already improved their odds of success as a business owner by acknowledging these benefits and deciding to work within a supportive system.

If you are someone who has done your homework and found the franchise opportunity you’ve always dreamed of but can’t seem to commit to a decision, then the final doubts you have are probably about your own abilities rather than the franchise itself. You have likely traversed many obstacles in your career and personal life–have confidence in yourself that you can overcome any obstacle with focused effort and you will have bridged the gap.


David Busker is the Founder of FranchiseVision and a Franchise Consultant with FranChoice, the premier national network of franchise consultants. David helps candidates exploring franchise ownership to set their criteria and then matches them with the perfect franchise. You can learn more about David at FranchiseVision.


View the original article on LinkedIn.




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