Owning a franchise is a big financial and personal investment. But potential owners don't necessarily need to have hands-on business experience to take the leap, according to Franchise magazine contributor Matthew O'Neil.

Because many potential franchise owners may be new to the business they want to own - whether it's a restaurant, cleaning service or tax franchise - most experienced franchisors give a potential owner all of tools they need to succeed, without expecting them to "re-invent the wheel."

For a franchise owner who doesn't have a great deal of experience, O'Neil says they should "make sure that the franchisor's support doesn't end the week after your head office training" and that the company will continue to give management support throughout the life of the franchise.

While both a franchise and a small business opportunity offer great investment potential, the additional support of a franchise means that they have a much higher rate of success. Statistics from SCORE say that of the independent small businesses that fail, 78 percent lack a clear business plan.

"Thoroughly researching a franchise and the viability of a franchise system's products, services and brand name recognition is paramount to your success as a franchisee. It's not just the franchise industry surveys and rankings, it's what the franchisees have to say about ongoing training and support from that franchisor," advised John Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax Service. "Ask the tough questions before you make an investment."

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!