Big ideas with small franchises

Big ideas with small franchises

Off By Ed Hanna

Starting a business from scratch is tough and survival rates aren’t too good. Franchising has been shown to be a safer course to take, even if the business is relatively small.

The word ‘franchise’ might put you off. You might assume that the word only really applies to super-brands involved with burgers or coffee. Sure, while a franchise from a world-beater like that will cost you hundreds of thousands, there are plenty of options that you could feasibly cover with your lump sum, savings or by speaking with the bank. Let’s say, options below the £20,000 mark.

Working from home

If you can be flexible, you can save a great deal of time and expense by setting up your franchise at home. A phone and an internet connection may be enough for you to get involved in office support, customer services or sales. If that’s not for you, your garage could double-up as your stock warehouse from which you can make local deliveries. (You’ll also save time and money by not needing to travel to and from a workplace.)

Simple set-up

One of the simplest ways to start is to go for a van-based franchise. The van will be part of your initial package and you’ll be guided by the franchisor as to the stock or kit, depending on the business and territory (designated business area) that you’ll need. Van-based franchises can cost from as little as £2,500 up to £20,000 – reflecting the huge choices available. As with other franchises, the cost variation is usually due to the amount of stock or kit you’ll need to invest in.


Some franchise options have attractive price-points because they are either part-time or seasonal. These are certainly worth looking at but you need to be confident that it’s feasible for you to make the return on investment that you’re ultimately looking for. The obvious upside is free time and possibly, flexibility regarding your hours.

Why Service Leavers succeed with franchising

Franchisors are often very keen to get Service-leavers on board. Franchisors know that generally speaking, Service leavers take well to long-term training and crucially, can follow the formula to success as laid down by the franchisor – who has already proven the success of the business model with other franchisees before you.

What to look for in a franchise

As with any franchise model/opportunity, it’s important to do sufficient homework before you commit your money to it. Ideally, the franchisor will be transparent regarding the process, costs and expectations and be able to provide evidence as to your expected trajectory. Part of this could be a meeting with an existing franchisor which could be invaluable in giving you a realistic outlook on what you can expect.

More advice: The British Franchise Association is a great place to find further advice.