Entrepreneurs Need Not Apply

Should the entrepreneurial-minded look into franchise ownership as a viable option to get into a business of their own?
King, Franchise Selection Spec\'s Inc
August 08, 2011

That’s right. If you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur, don’t even think about doing it. It shouldn’t even be a passing thought. As a matter of fact, if you’re truly an entrepreneurial soul, I’m not even sure that I want you reading this post.

Since you’re obviously not going to listen to me, (because you’re probably hard-headed like most entrepreneurs) I may as well tell you what “it” is.

“It” is franchise business ownership, and it should be a non-starter for most entrepreneurs. That’s because entrepreneurs generally don’t do well with rules. Instead of following the rules, they tend to make their own rules. Now, since the business model of franchising is a rather rigid one, (which is a nice way of saying that there are tons of rules) one would think that most, if not all, entrepreneurial-minded people would not be tempted to engage in a franchise business relationship. That’s one man’s opinion. Then there’s hers.

Rieva Lesonsky and I have had a friendly little franchise feud going on for a couple of years. Now, I do realize that as a foe in this little debate, Rieva is quite formidable. She spent 26 amazing years at Entrepreneur magazine, where she started off as a research assistant. Rieva worked her way up to the position of editorial director. She pretty much shaped Entrepreneur magazine to what it is today: The number one business magazine in newsstand sales.

Rieva wrote a post a while back in which she shared her feelings about entrepreneurs and franchising:

“There are many times that franchisees could be—or should be—considered entrepreneurs. Think about franchisees who take a gamble and buy into a newer system. While they might not be risking as much as the person who started the system, there’s still a lot at stake there. In cases like this the franchisor’s name is not that well established, undercutting a big advantage of buying a franchise. And the kinks in the system may not be worked out yet either.” (You can read the rest of Rieva’s entrepreneurial-franchise post here.)

I say that franchisees are not entrepreneurs. The person who came up with the concept, and invented the franchise system for that concept is the entrepreneur. Pure entrepreneurship is much different than being a franchisee. A true entrepreneur would get nauseous when during training, a 300-page franchise operations manual was slapped on his or her desk. (Those operations manuals don’t leave too much room for innovating.)

So, who’s right?

Should entrepreneurial-minded people look into franchise ownership as a viable option to get into a business of their own? Or, should these same people try to find a way to get the word “franchise” erased from their memories, so that they’re never tempted to look at anything that remotely looks like a franchise business ever again?

I’d love to hear from you on this. I’m thinking that Rieva would, too.