Is Business Ownership Right For You?
The reality of the current downturn in the economy is that many companies will need to restructure to create the private sector jobs President Obama is talking about. At the time of writing this article there is 7.2% unemployment or the good news, 92.8% full employment. That’s good news if you’re one of the 92.8% but bad news if you’re one of the 7.2%. And these are national figures so if you live in some States in the US the unemployment rate is higher.
Regardless of your local unemployment statistics, if you have lost your job or are concerned your company may downsize but you need to make some money to put a roof over your head, feed the family, buy the gas to get around plus all the other things you need to do in life, perhaps you are thinking it’s time to get off the employment rollercoaster. This means putting yourself in control so you can work the hours you want, work in an industry you want to be part of and ultimately be in control of your own destiny. If that makes sense, what are your options?
The three options of business ownership
If you think business ownership may be an option for you, there are basically three choices. Option one is to start your own business. This means you have to come up with a creative new idea, test it to make sure there is a commercial market for your idea, and then once you get enough feedback, build and execute a business plan. This plan not only needs to ensure you make enough money to pay the costs of running your business and personal needs but also cover any debt you’ve incurred while you created, tested and deployed your idea.
Option two is to buy an existing business that has any of the following three goals. Your first goal could be to find a business that’s not doing well, determine the reason it is underperforming and then put in place the changes to have the business head in a positive direction. Your second goal could be to look for a business that’s holding its own and simply take the place of the existing owner with the expectation of enjoying the life style of this business owner. The third goal could be to look for a business that’s growing well but bring your skill set, new energy and capital and either continue the growth of the business or considerably add to it.
The third and final option is to buy the rights to a new franchise. Just so I am clear, you could always buy an existing franchise and continue its current ownership but this is really a variation of option two above. New franchises are appearing on the market all the time in a diverse range of industries and formats. At last count I had franchises in 84 different industries such as accounting, automotive, animals/pets, beauty care, building materials, children’s education, clothing, transportation, travel, upholstery and wholesale etc while the formats range from Business to Business (B2B), Retail, Home based etc to name a few. The option of buying a new franchise tends to appeal to those who have worked in Corporate America but decide to look elsewhere for their future. The best advantage of a franchise for a new business owner is that it brings a system or business model that has had the wrinkles ironed out; similar to the model used in Corporate America. The franchisor has proven the business model, fine tuned the systems, built the training for the franchisee, knows what accounting systems to use and has these up and running and is looking to re-create these business models across the US and often into Canada and Mexico, and around the world.
If you’re deciding whether business ownership is right for you, one of your most important evaluations will concern risk. We see this everyday with how we handle our money. We know we need an account to pay our bills and often use a checking/savings account combination. The money is very safe (backed by the US Government) and available whenever we need it. Because this money is needed for virtually immediate use our risk tolerance is very low. With that need taken care of our next decision involves putting aside excess capital that hopefully stays ahead of inflation but is only tied up for the short term of say 6 months to 2 years. For this option we look to CDs, Bonds or Treasuries which we also know are safe and meet our low risk tolerance.
We also understand the importance of another form of investing and that’s regularly putting retirement money into a 401K plan or similar which is money invested for the long term of 10 years or more. We know this money is at a higher risk as it fluctuates in value on a daily basis with movements in the stock exchange. For this higher risk we require a higher return on investment. With those needs addressed, and if we have any additional spare money, we then look at other longer term investing options which includes buying shares in the stock market, buying corporate bonds, playing the foreign currency markets, trading commodities or some other form of investment we know and handle ourselves or pay a financial advisor to manage for us.
The bottom line is that you have many options with the final option you choose to make based on your risk tolerance. When deciding whether to start your own business, buy an existing business or buy the rights to a franchise, the level of risk will be one of the major decisions you need to evaluate. Your comfort with which option to choose will also depend on a number of variables. These include how much money you have to invest, the skill set the business requires and how closely this matches yours. Another major factor includes your financial status. Do you need to borrow, what is the condition of your credit score and, is your credit report acceptable to a lender? It may also ensure your background doesn’t preclude you from business ownership due to a criminal record or other circumstance.
What’s the next step?
If you’ve read the above and think business ownership is right for you or you would like to know more, your next steps are to become more educated so when you get to make that final decision whether you will or will not go into business ownership, you have as much information as possible. For this reason I have written three guides to help those considering business ownership. These guides are respectively called – Successfully Start Your Business, Successfully Buy Your Business and Successfully Buy Your Franchise: Expert Advice from a Business Broker. I’ve personally been in business ownership for 25 + years having owned and operated 5 businesses; two in my native Australia and now three in California. I still remember the fear and sleepless nights deciding whether to buy my first business and relocate to a new city with my 6 months pregnant wife. But as I look back, business ownership provides a wonderful set of experiences and skills I would never have known if I didn’t recognize and manage the risk that comes with business ownership. There is no question; business ownership is not for everybody. But business ownership is a skill to acquire and once it’s acquired brings about opportunities those working a job never see. Plus one of the rewards to it all is that it puts you in control so when you go through recessions you have the capacity to succeed.