Posted on Oct 17, 2011
Best Franchises for Young Entrepreneurs
Recent college grads and young entrepreneurs -- what's the key to starting your first successful business? And what are the best franchise opportunities to help make that a reality?
Politicians, academics, and corporate leaders alike love to proclaim that the "dreams of the youth" will drive our country's economic future. It's a fine sentiment, to be sure, but many of these same leaders, blind to the realities of the modern American (and global) economy, seem to incorrectly believe that these youthful dreams include following the increasingly unreliable path of earlier generations. Get a clue!
The old adage "Go to school, get good grades, and get yourself a 9-5 job that will see you through retirement" is no longer a realistic prescription for the majority of recent college graduates. Today's youth -- increasingly jaded by the broken promises, layoffs, and soul-crushing work environments endured by their parents -- are seeking out entrepreneurial business opportunities that put them in a position to succeed or fail on their own merits.
Nothing has driven this point home more clearly than the ever-rising stream of tweets, Facebook messages, and good old fashioned emails received by Franchise Help from our youngest readers -- primarily recent college graduates with impressive credentials, a healthy distaste for cubicle dwelling, and a burning desire to beat their own path to a successful future. Many of these readers see franchising, which combines the structure and experience of a franchisor with the energy and ambition of a franchisee, as an ideal vehicle for pursuing their dreams. However, most don't know where to begin their search, given the thousands of franchise opportunities available today.
The most common questions FranchiseHelp.com staff have received in recent months:
- Which franchise would appeal to my experiences and interests as a recent college graduate?
- Which franchises feature low startup capital requirements?
- Which franchises are friendliest to young entrepreneurs?
To address these reader questions, we decided to turn to the experts on Gen-Y entrepreneurship: the crew at Under30CEO.com.
Working with our staff, the Under30CEO team dug through the FranchiseHelp.com franchise directory, studied our franchise disclosure document library, and surveyed their own readership to develop a list of franchise opportunities that appear to best fit young or first-time franchisees.
Read on for FranchiseHelp.com and Under30CEO's list of 21 franchises for young entrepreneurs...
Did you mow lawns or do landscaping work to make money back in high school or college? Rejoice in that experience, because Weed Man gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to take those summer skills and incorporate them into managing one's own business. As the world's largest lawn care company, Weed Man offers a vast network of professionals ready to guide new franchisees through the setup process. Before coming aboard, potential franchisees visit an existing Weed Man franchise operation, where they get to “kick the tires, see the systems in use and get a good feel for the people," according to the company. On top of this, the company may have the best superhero mascot in the business (you'll need to look for yourself).
Tom Curdes, an Ohio owner of two outlets of Weed Man, grossed over $750,000 in sales in 2009 and says, "Had it not been for my franchisor, who worked with me very diligently to put a business plan together, I probably never would have done this," according to a recent interview in Inc Magazine.
Franchisees in this system make money while doing good for the environment -- an increasingly important factor for today's youngest entrepreneurs. groOrganic franchise owners assist people and businesses in growing organic backyard gardens that are later harvested for food consumption. This franchise is perfect for able-bodied young people who enjoy the outdoors and want to be involved in a business that is environmentally and socially responsible.
groOrganic is also appealing to the wallet, with a minimum cash investment requirement of only about $10,000. groOrganic is no stranger to good press, having been been featured on NBC's Biggest Loser and having appeared on our own list of Top 20 Franchise Businesses for Women. Even Gen-Y favorite Kim Kardashian has hired groOrganic to help create a healthier lifestyle for her family.
One of the biggest concerns among today's younger generation of business owners is the desire to create a business about which the owner can be truly passionate. If you’re an outdoorsman in love with fishing and hunting, getting into an Outdoor Connection franchise could be a great chance to combine business with pleasure. Outdoor Connection franchisees plan, book, and organize top sportsman excursions for their clients; as part of this system, franchisees receive discounted rates for lodging and services and the tools to make these unique trips a reality. With Outdoor Connection, young entrepreneurs have the potential to make money while satisfying their adventurous side.
Of particular interest to young entrepreneurs will be this opportunity's price tag: Outdoor Connection is one of the lowest-cost franchises available, with a cash requirement of approximately $10,000.
Fetch! Pet Care
Fetch! Pet Care was born out of necessity when Paul Mann needed someone to watch his dog when he went away on vacation. Now Fetch! Pet Care offers dog walking and pet sitting services to clients all across the country. Appealing to your inner Jack Hanna, these franchises not only walk dogs but also watch cats, birds, snakes and maybe even the occasional tarantula. Paul Mann, CEO and founder of the system, claims pet care makes up a $42 billion industry and is the seventh-fastest growing industry in America; looking to go even further, Mann plans to take the franchise international, and has already struck partnerships with big names like AAA and Petco.
This franchises requires low net worth to start, has relatively low risk, and a system that is accustomed to young entrepreneurs: Young Money Magazine recently profiled 26-year-old Fetch! Pet Care franchisee William Pitcher, who funded his franchise from the savings compounded from the lemonade stands he ran while growing up. No need to pucker up -- there's nothing bitter about that!
Here is a great opportunity for sports fans: Recruit is a trusted high school athlete news and information resource relied on heavily by college recruiters across the country. Franchisee in the system obtain, refine, and disseminate key scouting data forcolleges recruiting high school athletes. Colleges are always looking for the next Tim Tebow and rely heavily on third-party scouts to help sift through the mountains of data in search of the next great unknown star in waiting.
If you are a young entrepreneur who played college ball (or a stats geek who is obsessed with analyzing sports data), this franchise may be for you. Not only will you be able to recognize talent, but your understanding of the recruiting process (or, in the case of the math nerds, your understanding of the numbers) will give you a great head start. With an approximate startup cost of only $20,000, Recruit could be a great way to enter an exciting industry.
Over the past 40 years, this house-painting franchise (and its predecessor and sister concept, College Pro) has provided its franchisees with a turn-key solution that many a young person has used to fund himself or herself through college. Instead of taking that internship over the summer, why not consider putting your leadership skills to the test by running your own business? CertaPro's sister company, College Pro Painters, focuses specifically on finding talented high school and college franchisees.
Fun franchise fact: CertaPro Painters is a proud sponsor of the up-and-coming Women's US Curling Team (set to compete in Denmark for the world championship). College Pro Painters is also a sponsor of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization.
Want to live out your dreams of becoming the next Lady Gaga? Consider a Virtuoso Music Franchise. Provide music lessons in schools, homes, and community centers while booking recitals, festivals, and various other performances. Virtuoso Music has teachers who specialize in voice, violin, guitar, piano, drums and more. They take the hassle out of finding a qualified teacher and scheduling time to drive to lessons, all while offering a motivational environment necessary to keep students engaged in their studies.
Demand for these franchises continues to increase as public schools continue to cut funding for music programs. No surprise: according to Matt Wyman, President of Virtuoso Music, people will often stop going out to eat or cut out other day-to-day costs before they will stop their kids' music lessons, because they see music instruction as an integral part of their child's education.
CareMinders Home Care
Non-medical care companies can be great solutions for young entrepreneurs. Even if you don't have a medical background, you can still make an investment in a franchise that cares for the elderly and provides companionship, skilled care, and home services for the elderly and handicapped. As our senior population grows to an estimated 77 million people by 2035, there is no better time to get into this market. When young entrepreneurs come to us and ask what future industries will experience the biggest growth, we always point them towards serving the needs of the aging baby boomer population.
The CareMinders team offers over ten different revenue streams, so regardless of your territory's demographics, you are in a great position to find sustainable cashflow.
Jimmy John's Sandwich Shop
Why not follow in the footsteps of legendary sandwich shop owner Jimmy John Liataud, who founded his business at just 19 years old? Liataud was recently named to our list of the most famous franchise founders of all time and has built quite a brand around having fun and selling top-quality sandwiches. Jimmy John is a true story of American grit and youthful persistence; the man started right out of college by giving away his sandwiches in the streets!
With headquarters in Champagne, Illinois, just off campus from University of Illinois, this sandwich shop is a perfect option for college towns.
Personal Training Institute
Given the growing obesity issue in this country, we've seen a growing emphasis on health and fitness opportunities. Owning a personal training franchise means you'll be constantly surrounded with people concerned about their fitness, translating into a healthy and energetic work environment for the franchisee and his or her employees. Unlike most gyms, PTI offers nutrition plans by registered dietitians and has over twenty years of experience and brand recognition.
According to Personal Training Institute, the minimum required investment is $50,000 (no small figure, but favorable when compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars required to start most gyms). Personal Training Institute is a great mid-cost solution for those looking to start a gym, but not looking to take on the expense and risk profile of a big box fitness franchise.
Freshii allows health-minded consumers to create their own wrap or salad from a tasty list of healthy ingredients. 29-year-old founder Matthew Corrin is one of the most successful young entrepreneurs on the planet, and he's got some aggressive plans for the expansion of this healthy, fast casual restaurant concept, with a current restaurant target of over 400 franchises. Check out our interview with Freshii's Matthew Corrin at the recent opening of Freshii's Midtown Manhattan location.
This high-energy business serves high energy food and is perfect for the young business owner. With a young founder at the helm, Freshii looks to find franchisees who not only have great business acumen but also have the energy to help grow the system. Under30CEO interviewed Corrin recently to address questions from young business owners.
With so many finance and accounting majors graduating from business school in an extremely competitive job market, many graduates are finding it difficult to find employment and utilize their skills. Instead of working your way up the corporate ladder with a big 4 accounting firm, why not take your skills and apply it to your own business? While you may not be qualified to do it alone, look for partners who can help fund your business and have the credentials to make it work. Combining the youthful exuberance of a young business owner with the knowledge and wisdom of a seasoned tax veteran could prove to be a winning combination.
Fitness Centers are normally very expensive to start and traditionally have a very high rate of failure. To combat this, Snap Fitness has paid special attention to helping franchisees select their location and has some of the lowest startup costs in the industry. Luckily for lifestyle-concerned Gen-Y business owners, Snap Fitness brands themselves as giving franchisees more freedom and flexibility than your typical franchise. It also doesn't hurt that the system has special technology that allows franchisees to monitor and manage their club operations online, via a dedicated web tool!
Snap Fitness Founder Peter Taunton was a recent recipient of Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award, and the franchise has appeared on our list of 18 Perfect Franchises for the Modern Day Man.
Today's young entrepreneurs have been blessed to have grown up in an environment where they simply understand technology. Most have had a computer practically since they came out of the womb. Although previous Information Technology experience is not necessary to run this business, as Computer Troubleshooters has extensive training programs, most young, tech-savvy people will be a few steps ahead when they enter this system. Check out the FranchiseHelp.com interview on How These Computer Geeks Have Franchises on Every Country Except Antarctica.
Computer Troubleshooters has two options: a home-based model and a service center model. This means that entrepreneurs of all ages can run the business from the comfort of their home (or dorm room), using their own computer.
Creative Tutors 4 Kids
Buying into Creative Tutors 4 Kids allows you to tutor students from Pre-K through 12. This franchise focuses on going to the students home to conduct the tutoring allowing you to avoid some of the fixed costs associated with a brick and mortar location. Creative Tutors 4 Kids is part of the International Franchise Associations VetFran program, which provides significant incentives and financing options for America's young veterans returning from duty overseas.
Do you love the holidays? Christmas Decor is a unique franchise opportunity that focuses on seasonal decorations of residential and commercial proprieties. As an owner you would handle everything from the decoration to maintenance to the removal and storage.
This is a seasonal business (runs for about 4-6 months per year), so it's a great complement to a landscape or outdoor maintenance business that you may already run in the warmer months.
College Hunks Hauling Junk
College Hunks Hauling Junk was founded by two college kids sitting in their dorm room. Compared to other junk-hauling services, this franchise is relatively new (launched in 2003), and has lower fees than a typical player in this space. Typically, teams of two set out in company trucks to remove any non-hazardous waste from residential and commercial properties.
The name says it all: College Hunks Hauling Junk is made for young, ambitious owners -- especially those located in or near a college town. Founders Nick and Omar are also well-known speakers on the young entrepreneur circuit and both have appeared on the 30 Most Influential Under30CEOs of 2010 list.
This one is interesting and again is best for the ULTIMATE pet lover. DoodyCalls is a pet waste removal company that helps schedule and clean residential yards, decks and outdoor areas. If you are a dog lover you'll be headed from yard to yard and will get to check in on your friends along the way.
DoodyCalls is the first pet waste removal franchise in the world, and system-wide is removing over 3 million poops a year! According to the company, 62% of all US households own a pet — that's quite a sizable market, clocking in at some 71.4 million homes. This franchise costs between $40,000 and $60,000 to start and tends to have a high proportion of inquiries from young entrepreneurs.
This cleaning company -- one of the largest and best-recognized cleaning services in the country -- offers cleanup for just about anything indoors, as well as packing and moving services. Many kids grew up offering simple cleaning and organizing services to earn some extra cash. Now young entrepreneurs can take that skill and turn it into their own business, supported by one of the largest cleaning operations in the world. Merry Maids was founded by a young entrepreneur, Daniel J. Bishop, in 1979 in Omaha, Nebraska, and the franchise has a very low hurdle to entry, with a minimum cash requirement of approximately $25,000.
Bark Busters Home Dog Training
Love man's best friend? Then this might be the franchise for you. Bark Busters is a training program that helps dog owners become better equipped to handle their dog's behavior. The franchise is established worldwide, yet has a family feel to it as it was started (and is owned) by two dog lovers from New Zealand.
The Bark Busters Home Dog Training franchise founders won the 1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year Award and the system is consistently ranked among the franchises to own. Bark Busters is also recognized as the "Best of the Best" by the SPCA.
Century 21 Real Estate
One of the more popular franchises out there, Century 21 Real Estate has been around since 1971. This franchise provides anyone who is interested in real estate a great foundation to start their career. If you are a real estate agent, why limit the amount of money you can make on your own, when you could be running your own brokerage? Just imagine a whole fleet of Century 21's signature gold jackets working for you.
Century 21 is the world's largest residential real estate organization, with almost 8,000 franchisees spread across 72 countries around the world. Despite its tradition, the system is very friendly toward the young and ambitious: Century 21 Canada founder Peter H. Thomas is a huge young entrepreneur advocate, keynoting at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization's National Conference in Chicago and serving as a member of the Young Presidents Organization. Grab those leads -- it's time to move some homes!
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