As businesspeople prepare to invest in a franchise opportunity, there are several benefits, challenges and risks they must take into account to ensure they are making the right decision for their money and experience.

It's widely acknowledged that franchises offer franchisees a number of benefits, including the opportunity to benefit from a franchisor's well-tested and developed products and marketing strategies. Furthermore, owning a franchise opportunity allows businesspeople to be their own boss and "fast forward their small business ownership ambitions," Hernando Today, a Florida-based publication, reports in its Ask SCORE section.

However, that doesn't mean the system comes without risks. According to the source, the biggest mistake that prospective franchisees make is believing that a franchise system cannot fail.

"Although the failure rate is much lower than that of independent businesses, the franchisee still must have the necessary commitment and drive to make the franchise successful," Hernando Today explains.

Furthermore, franchisees must have the funds to afford the substantial financial commitment that owning a franchise requires. While in today's lending environment this can seem like a daunting and almost insurmountable obstacle to surmount, franchisees can benefit from ready-made relationships franchisors have with local banks, as well as alternative opportunities such as friends and family, retirement funds and micro-financing.

As a result of the great financial investment a franchise unit requires, prospective franchisees may want to contract legal professionals to help them fully understand the Uniform Franchise Operating Circular and the Franchise Disclosure Document. Franchisees should also remember that while these documents protect them prior to purchase, once buyers have signed on the dotted line, they are obligated to abide by franchisors' rules and regulations.

However, a paper document won't tell you all you need to know about a franchise. With this in mind, the source suggests taking to the streets and approaching existing franchisees, which can prove useful even past the research process.

"These relationships will also be helpful should you decide to move forward with the franchise purchase. You can develop a network of friends with the same base knowledge and abilities and can serve as a source of help when you have questions or good ideas to share,' Hernando Today advises.

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