As result of the financial crisis and resulting economic recession, scores of highly qualified and talented business executives and managers found themselves out of work, and as the unemployment rate only continued to rise, they remained without a job. However, many of these business-minded individuals found success through a new realm and invested in a franchise opportunity, finding that they already had the requisite business skills and know-how to put the odds for success in their favor.

But as any savvy entrepreneur knows, before investing time, money and energy into any venture, it is important to do significant research. In a recent article for Entrepreneur magazine, contributor Julie Bennett offers a few tips and "practical pointers" to follow before signing a contract.

First, she advises prospective franchisees to evaluate themselves. Just because an individual has had previous success in the business world doesn't mean they don't have weaknesses or blind spots that may make them less qualified for certain business models and franchise subjects than others.

To this end, franchisees should also avoid fads. While a sector may be hot now, prospective investors should ask themselves if this enthusiasm, on the part of consumers, will last. Additionally, entering an overcrowded market that has inspired numerous copycats does not foretell large profits for unit owners, Bennett counsels.

Once a franchisee has found an industry that matches their interests and experiences, it is time to begin looking at specific franchise systems. For example, prospective franchisees should be wary of systems that have too many units for sale. This shows that a system may be troubled, with its unit owners experiencing difficulty bringing in consumers, or that the model itself is just not working.

Additionally, as any experienced businessperson knows, any startup - no matter how great the idea - can be a risky venture, and franchises are no different, Bennett writes. Interviewing Sue Bennett, principal at FranFinders, she suggests that prospective franchisees only look at businesses with five or more years or experience and at least 25 open franchise units.

Even with prospective franchisees doing their due diligence, the franchise industry is predicted to expand and grow even stronger in 2011. A recent report from the International Franchise Association expects that franchise establishments will grow by 2.5 percent in the new year.

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!