In today's tough economy, finding the funds to finance a franchise opportunity can seem like an insurmountable task. However, for those business-minded individuals truly set on operating their own franchise opportunity, there are a number of options.

According to Entrepreneur magazine the secret to financing success can be found one of three ways: retirement funds, traditional loans and micro lending. The first option is only available to those entrepreneurs with an IRA or 401K account. Using these funds, businesspeople will be able to invest in their new ventures.

However, prospective unit owners should be careful. These accounts are tightly regulated and using them to invest in a business means navigating all sorts of IRS rules and paperwork. As a result, the magazine suggests that franchisees hire a professional to help them sort through any issues and avoid potential penalties.

Traditional loans are still a viable option for many franchisees. However, as major financial institutions continue to tighten lending standards, Entrepreneur advises that individuals seek loans from local community banks and credit unions.

Yet still prospective franchisees should "be prepared get denied before you find the right one, since not many banks are lending," the magazine writes. To up their odds of being approved, individuals should be ready to offer up far more collateral than would have been necessary a few years ago.

Finally, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers a number of loan programs for funding under $150,000. Prospective franchisees should be warned, however: Since these loans are part of federally funded programs, there will be quite a bit of paperwork and restrictions to deal with.

There is hope for a looser lending environment in the future, according to Mark Siebert, CEO of iFranchise Group, a franchise consulting firm.

"Historically," said Siebert, "one could reasonably assume that obtaining a loan to purchase a franchise would be a simple process, merely by demonstrating an interest in the business, some collateral, a decent credit score, and a minimal amount of liquid capital. When the banking and housing crisis became the new reality, things changed."

"With all of the pent-up demand created by the continued unemployment situation, even a small change in loan availability will likely create a huge positive impact on franchise sales," he added.

The Liberty Tax Service franchise opportunity is #9 on the fastest growing franchises list of the 2010 Entrepreneur “Franchise 500.” Our tax franchise is an affordable and viable business choice. Each office provides thorough, computerized tax preparation coupled with superior customer service. For the best small business opportunity in the income tax franchise industry, choose Liberty!