Small businesses, from those you own yourself to franchise opportunities, are not just for the dreamers among us anymore. Recent trends among those who are quitting their jobs to start their own businesses show that there is lots of potential in the market for talented professionals. From new internet startups to a host of different franchise opportunities, there are some exciting possibilities for smart business owners and would-be business owners looking to get in the game.
<h2>Franchise Boom Reflects New Attitudes in Small Business</h2>
There are three factors behind the rise in small business opportunities, and franchises in particular. One is the simple lack of job opportunities that are out there with corporations. Many are not expecting a rise in the amount of hiring that will be done this year and next. A second motivator is a lack of overall job satisfaction. Franchises provide an easy-entry opportunity for small business owners to start their own company, without the typical costs of marketing and brand promotion. In fact, the International Franchise Association expects a 4.3% rise in franchise output, raising the collective value of franchises to $802 billion dollars.
A third factor behind the rise is the ability to do business virtually anywhere with the support of various new wireless technologies. Small business owners increasingly rely on tablet devices and smart phones, especially with the rise in cloud computing opportunities. No longer does a business require a network of computers and servers rooted in one location. Now small business owners can operate virtually anywhere.
Some of the more recent franchises that have been trending include frozen yogurt stores, which initially became popular on the west coast before slowly making their way east. Pinkberry and Yogurtini are two franchise businesses which offer self-serve frozen yogurt to customers, and who have both seen great success with the model. Frozen yogurt is somewhat seasonal across areas with different temperatures, but the set up is inexpensive and easy, and the payment by weight business model yields sweet rewards for the franchise owner. The one possible drawback: these businesses have expanded rapidly. Before entering this market, do your research to make sure it has not already become saturated in your area.
Gyms are also a popular choice, especially for those who are fitness-minded. Your franchiser may be able to set you up with very reasonable pricing for gym equipment. You simply need the space and the staff. One gym franchise, Anytime Fitness, is in the top 10 franchises for 2013, higher than McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. Anytime Fitness also has the second lowest start up costs of the top 10 franchises, estimated to be from $56,000 to $350,000 dollars. Trends in the fitness business are ever changing. While zumba, yoga and boot camps were once hot, now there are gyms that specialize in surfboard workouts, crossfit training and even paleo-style caveman workouts.
Another trend for small businesses is the rise of a “glocal” mindset: the adaption of products and services to a location or culture in which it is sold. Small business owners in New York City and Portland are already familiar with the local “brand” power that exists simply due to location, but there is also an implied quality of those products that those outside of the community want to buy as well.
Glocal businesses can include any that produce crafts, local food items, or those who work with local farmers. Baked goods, local seafood or meat offerings, and traditional dairy goods are all part of the glocal offering. Sports memorabilia and apparel stores are an example of glocal shop offerings that have been around for some time, but which have gotten more opportunities to sell products to fans out of state thanks to internet ordering and shipping.
Glocal businesses are also franchises which adapt their menus to suit local tastes. Some of the more interesting examples include fast food franchises in other countries; McDonald’s offers specialty burgers to the Japanese market. Even in America, McDonald’s has its own geographically-linked menu items, such as the Lobster Roll, served in New England locations. Every franchise is different in how much localization you can do, but many make it easy for you to mold the franchise to fit local culture and preferences.
The downside of these trends, of course, is that some of them will cool off over time. It is important to understand the inherent risks and rewards of starting your own small business. Business brokers, who assist in buying and selling businesses, whether franchised or otherwise, are an important resource for future business owners on the business trends in their region.