Franchise Ownership in your 40's
You’ve likely heard the ancient Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago–the second best time is now.” The same goes for any investment in life, be it personal or professional development, and starting a business venture is no different.
The business world has a vested interest in sussing out the ideal “formula” for successful business ownership and investment, which has captured the curiosity of researchers in the fields of Economics and IO (Industrial/Organizational) Psychology, inspiring a wealth of research on what the ideal (or average ideal) age of business ownership is. The Kauffman Foundation, the Founder Institute, and Duke University have each published studies based on research examining the correlation between entrepreneurial age and the success of their venture. You may be pleased to know that the average age each of their studies landed on was just around 40, with age 39 yielding the exact average for a startup earning $1 million or greater--looks like the best time to plant a tree is, well, right now, after all!
It is important to note that age alone is not enough to predict success where this is concerned–the age corollary is closely tied to the overall experience a business owner had in the field prior to launching their startup. Your familiarity with how the field has evolved over time is crucial to your ability to adapt to newer trends. As we age, we become less inherently adept at adopting new technologies, particularly as they advance exponentially over time. Research has also shown that with age comes a decreased desire to change our methodologies, which can be a hindrance when it comes to optimizing workflow and keeping pace with adjacent competitors who are quick to upgrade their tech, minimize redundancies, and transition to a more expedient and effective format of business.
Of course, there are other unique factors to take into consideration where age is concerned. For example, one’s propensity to engage in financial risk taking declines over time, partially owing to financial risk having greater impact on dependents such as spouses and children. If you went the family planning route in your late 20’s to mid 30’s, your late 40’s will be the time frame in which you can expect to see your chickens leave the roost, but that does not mean your financial obligation to oversee their success is repudiated–most children of affluent parents go to college (a costly engagement on its own, without factoring in housing, textbooks, medical care, travel expenses to and from home, and so on). Are you prepared to take these financial risks, given that failure may have a direct impact on your children’s future, or your retirement plan?
Another important consideration is tied to your health outcomes in middle age. As time progresses, you’ll notice a marked decrease in overall energy, stamina, and physical resilience. Injuries become more frequent, and downtime is lengthened by your body’s decreased healing speed. Middle age also comes with the onset of certain genetic diseases, and a general worsening of chronic injuries. This is not to say you are in any way incapable of becoming a successful franchise owner–only that you will need to account for the possibility of future injury, illness, loss of energy, and longer recovery times.
Once you've considered the variables and are comfortable with the risks you assume by undertaking this venture in your 40's, you can begin to explore which franchises are right for you. Take our in house quiz here to be paired with a franchise that meets your unique needs.
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Strategic and Structural Alternatives to Franchising
These are difficult decisions. The solutions are not clear cut from a business or from a legal perspective. It is critical that a company in this position work with qualified counsel to identify an alternative that will have a reasonable basis for an exemption and still make sense from a strategic perspective. The balance of this chapter will look at the many alternatives currently being tested by many U.S. and oversees companies. As you can see, the lines of demarcation are not always clear. The differences between many of these alternatives may in fact be in name only. Some of these concepts are truly innovative and have not been truly tested by the courts or the regulators. In these borderline cases, a regulatory “no-action” letter procedure is strongly recommended. Other concepts are not very innovative at all and merely borrow from long-recognized and analogous legal relationships such as chapter affiliation agreements in the non-profit arena or network affiliation agreements in radio and television broadcasting.
It’s Good to Be Popular (But Not Too Popular)—Choosing a Trademark for your Franchise System
For new franchisors, standing out from the crowd can be a task of epic proportions. Selecting a strong and memorable trademark is certainly an important (indeed, critical) first step, but for the relatively unknown, picking a trademark that is too abstract can occasionally be viewed as a step in the wrong direction—you want to stand out, but you also want people to actually know what you do or sell.