Buying a Franchise

Choosing a Franchise Business: Home Based or Not?

The scene is a corporate office, and the character says, “The guy works from home.” The scene quickly shifts — you know you’re about to see the man working from home, but what exactly are you expecting to see?

It could be a powerful yet laid back hero on his deck overlooking the ocean, focusing intently on his laptop and fielding important phone calls. Or it could be a harried shnook in sweatpants surrounded by dirty laundry and pizza delivery boxes, arranging a power meeting in a coffee shop and apologizing for the barking dog.

Our culture has two competing ideas about working from home. On the one hand, we have the appeal of uninterrupted freedom and focus, and on the other we have the less appealing idea of unproductive multitasking.

When you consider franchise options, you’ll find that many of them list being able to work from home as a feature. What are the advantages of being able to work from home?

  • Both up-front and ongoing costs are lower when you don’t have to pay for a building.
  • Tax deductions for use of your home for business help cover costs.
  • Parents or others with pressing at-home responsibilities can dovetail their paying work with those at-home tasks.
  • Working at home can mean fewer interruptions and less time spent on less important busywork.
  • Working from home can make it easier to collaborate or partner with people in more different places.
  • The flexibility of working from home appeals to many people.
  • For a part-time or seasonal franchise, being able to do without a business location keeps you from paying for something you don’t use all the time.
  • Mobile businesses may also find that their business location is unused much of the time; why pay for it?

There are also advantages of working from a commercial location:

  • Walk-in traffic can provide a substantial part of your revenue if you’re in the right location. Your home is not the right location for walk-in traffic.
  • Your location can be part of your brand and can establish confidence in your company.
  • Meetings with clients may take place outside an office or can even be virtual meetings, but there is a danger of making a poor impression.
  • Some people are less productive at home, either because they find it hard to focus or because there are too many distractions.
  • Other people find it hard to stop working at home, because they work is always available.
  • The workplace can be an important social venue. Working at home may be lonely.
  • Working in the same location can improve collaboration and teamwork.
  • Supervising employees can be more difficult when everyone works remotely; having your staff in your home can be difficult for your family.

Which factors affect you most depends primarily on your personality, the nature of your business, and your life circumstances. But it’s important to remember that working from home is rarely a requirement for a franchise, even when it’s a possibility.

Some franchises obviously require a specialized building. A quick-service restaurant, coffee shop, auto repair franchise or retail products store need a specialized location. A franchise that can be operated from home, however, can also be operated from an office. Small office rentals are often very economical.

If you want to work from home, choose a franchise with that potential — and bear in mind that you can always change your mind on that point.

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