Should You Start a Franchise in Your Fifties? Here’s What You Need to Know
You’re in your fifties… You have “worked for the man” for decades. You may be burned out, tired of corporate politics, and fed up with acting interested in nonsensical meetings. You’re done making money for others, and you’re looking to control your destiny. You have come to the conclusion that ageism is real. But should you start a franchise in your fifties? It may sound like a crazy idea, but franchising makes a great second career and is more accessible than you think.
Financially, your 401k is still solid even after the recent dips, your house is dripping with equity, you have more liquid capital now than ever before, and you’re at a point where you’re willing to invest in yourself to create a legacy for your family. You’ve dreamt of business ownership and a better work/life balance while you still have some gas in the tank but don’t really know where to start. Welcome to the option of franchising!
Finding the Perfect Franchise in Your Fifties
Franchising makes a great second career that you can enter easily in your fifties. Just because you’ve spent the last 20 to 30 years in (insert your industry) doesn’t mean you have to stay in that space. In fact, a vast majority of new franchisees go into a sector completely different than their current one. Franchise ownership offers a fresh, new exhilarating transition into a new industry, with no experience required. Remember, you can still take your transferable skills with you, but the franchisor is there to train and educate you on running the business.
Did you know that whether you use the services of a certified franchise consultant or not, you will pay the same franchise fee? Ask yourself this: If you were to travel to an unfamiliar city and had to choose between renting a car and figuring out where to go by yourself or having a knowledgeable guide for the same price, which option would you choose?
Think of a franchise consultant as your guide. During your search, most consultants will use a similar process as the one below (although this is massively simplified for the purposes of this article):
- Initial discovery call: This will establish your work/life balance goals, category preferences, and the number of hours you wish to work.
- A territory check: Your franchise consultant will inquire about what’s available in your area from the better franchises that bubbled up from your personal preferences uncovered during discovery.
- Presentation of brands: You will be presented with three to six options that are available in your area, and you’ll most likely agree to an introductory call with one, two, or possibly three of them.
- Introductions: Once you begin with introductory calls to franchisors, you are usually looking at four to six weeks before you need to make any decisions on whether or not to move forward.
Stop Second-Guessing Yourself
While making a career change in your fifties may seem scary or impossible, franchising offers a fast track to business ownership with a greater chance of success than going it alone. Even still, some things might make you second-guess the decision. Here are the top three:
- Fear: Fear is normal but can be managed with information. Clarity reduces unnecessary fear, and you will gain that clarity over the discovery process. As you go through multiple meetings, most (but not all) of your fear will turn into excitement to move forward with the process. Or, you might get the clarity that the opportunity isn’t for you. Either way… the fear mostly dissipates.
- Finances: People often ask, “how much money do I need?” The short answer is that it depends on the concept. Most consultants will introduce you to a franchise-friendly funding source early on in the process that can succinctly educate you on your various funding options and get you prequalified for the franchise of your choice.
- Your spouse or significant other: Should you tell your spouse you are thinking of making a career change and starting a franchise at fifty? The answer is unequivocally YES! The No. 1 reason that people don’t realize their dreams of franchise ownership is because their spouses were not involved in the process. It’s imperative to consult with your spouse as early in the process as possible. Naively thinking that he or she will agree with your decision to move forward without being included is a huge mistake.
Do People Really Change Careers at Fifty?
Imagine yourself in 20 years. What advice would you give the younger you? If you think about it, there is a no better advisor to the 50-year-old you than the 70-year-old you. If you close your eyes and imagine yourself at 70 and look back on this moment in your life, how would you advise yourself? Would you want to continue dealing with the daily corporate grind or instead bet on yourself as a franchise business owner?
The thought of a career change at fifty can be overwhelming. People worry about what could go wrong rather than focus on what can go right. Sometimes, you simply have to take a calculated risk. Franchising makes a great second career. Starting a franchise after 50 is not too late. Consider this: 85% of franchises are still in business after five years, yet 37% of the U.S. labor force changed or lost their job in 2020.
You’ve been successful to this point, and history generally repeats itself… you just have to take the advice of Mark Twain below.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain