Starting your home business: The key to success

With the number of people working from home increasing by a fifth in the last ten years to reach a record 1.5million, it would be fair to say that the working landscape is changing.

Experts suspect that this is because people’s lifestyles are so hectic these days that this route offers more flexibility; you decide your own hours and how/where you work.

This coupled with financial uncertainty in an unsteady economy has meant that taking matters in to your own hands and seizing home-business opportunities are becoming an increasingly attractive option.

Over the last 4 years, Paul, who is the co-founder of The Travel Franchise, has helped hundreds of people successfully work from home and set up their own travel consultancy business. Paul offers his top tips on how to ensure success when working from home and explains how franchising can offer the support you need.

The pitfalls.

Whilst there are plenty of benefits of working from home, snubbing the office does come with its limitations. It’s all about finding some balance between your working and social life, which can be hard when those two locations happen to be in the same place.

It can be easy to get distracted but instead of waving off work for another 5 minutes in front of the telly, Paul says to limit your distractions, “find a quiet office space at home where you can work in peace. Family and friends often won’t differentiate between working from home and downtime so take yourself away for set periods of the day”.

The benefits.

“No commute, no travel costs, no set uniform or dress code; you set the ground rules”

Paul believes that when done right, working from home enables you to plan your own day and be more productive with minimal distractions. There is support and information out there about learning to manage your own time.

“From your home office, you should organise and plan your day, otherwise lunch can turn from a half an hour break to 3 hours” Creating a schedule means you are more likely to stick to a routine and it will make you more productive when working.

How does franchising help you to succeed at home where going it alone wouldn’t?

Setting up your own business can be a lonely time, and you can isolate yourself with very little guidance from external sources. However, becoming a franchisee means you are never left completely to your own devices. Instead, you are able to benefit from resources and expertise you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

Paul says, a franchise should provide induction training for all franchisees before they begin setting up their business and offer continual support moving forward; “Go for a franchise that champions a collaborative team with franchisees that help each other. Head office teams should always available to help, on the phone or face to face, whenever you need them.”

From experience, Paul says that “whether it’s just a simple pep talk or you need help with the more complex areas of business that perhaps that you may not have the knowledge of (ie. site building or marketing your company effectively), a good franchise will offer you the tools your business needs to grow.”

So, if it’s such a viable business option why are franchises not more popular?

Many people’s franchise fears often stem from horror stories about pricey sign up fees, the expense of lease payments and not getting the support they need.

And it’s this poor publicity that is negatively representing franchising.

But why?

“Many well-known brands/ chains are expensive to buy into and often promise a huge turnover” says Paul, “However, it is easy to get lost in the huge amounts of people franchising under these corporation. With ‘bricks and mortar’ franchises like these, it’s high risk. You invest a lot in the rent of a property to run your business from and any additional staff, yet this is the kind of franchise we predominantly hear about.”

However, there are other options. A home-based business is less of an upfront investment and doesn’t require staff or a venue, you can simply build your business from home.

What to look for in a good franchise?

Paul says that “a good franchise is looking for good business partners” and explains how it can be like learning to drive.

Despite being given the tools and support, your business can only be as good you make it, “As a franchise, we are the support there in the passenger seat to essentially teach you how to drive. It’s just up to you how hard you put your foot down.”

Paul’s advice for people considering this kind of career move would be to do your research.

For a franchise to be successful it should have incentives to show their business model really works, for example, The Travel Franchise’s money back challenge. The whole point of concepts such as this one is to offer reassurance and build trust.

“It’s important that you’re not about to go in to business with a start-up company that’s unproven! Ensure it has an established business model and support structures for future franchisees. The best way to find out this information would be to speak to the company’s success stories and find out direct for fellow franchisees how they have made their success.

Still not sure?

Paul explains that the most rewarding thing about franchising, as an owner, “is watching so many people achieve success.” Over the last 6 years, Paul has seen and supported hundreds of franchisee’s business growth, with his company paying out impressive monthly commission cheques. He states that “the personal development, the confidence and the knowledge that you gain from starting your own business this way is not something you get with every job”.

When joining a franchise, you are becoming a part of an already established brand and business model and it can be used as a fast track to success. You are still very much in control of your own business, just with the added reassurance that there’s a helping hand there, should you need it.