First-Time Franchise Owner
Funding Strategies & Tips
Taking into account the franchise fee, royalty fees, working capital and other possible costs needed to start a franchise business, most potential franchisees find they don’t have the cash resources to purchase a franchise upfront. If you find yourself in this position as well, don’t be surprised if you run into a few financing challenges. Many lenders are typically more hesitant to approve loans if you don’t have experience or a solid track record as a business owner. That’s why it’s important have a strategy and be prepared.
- Popular strategies for first-timers:
- SBA loans: While the SBA loan process can be overwhelming and complex, there are steps you can take to eliminate these hassles and better set you up for getting approved. For example, there are funding partners (like Benetrends) who monitor what concepts, types of borrowers, FICO score, collateral, and assets lenders are looking for, and can help you apply early on to the bank(s) that would be the best fit for you. Because different lenders have different credit boxes and different ‘appetites’ for a franchisor's concept, knowing which lender favors the franchise concept you’re interested in (and would favor you as a borrower based on your financial and personal history) is vital to ensuring you don't waste your time going to the wrong banks only to be denied. The goal should also be to try to secure offers from several lenders so you can choose the one with the best terms.
- Using your retirement funds (also called Rollovers as Business Startups or ROBS): If you have more than $50,000 in a 401(k), IRA or other qualified retirement plan, this might be a great option for you. There are no penalties or upfront taxes, and because it eliminates the need for a loan, your business becomes cash flow positive sooner. It also provides you the ability to pay yourself a salary until your business becomes profitable, and can be used to cover your personal expenses so your business only needs to cover business debt.
- Combination of options: Many times, using more than one funding option could be your best option. For example, using a ROBS plan as the capital injection for an SBA loan is becoming more and more popular. A funding expert can help you decide if using a combination of options is right for you.
- Start with the Franchisor: One good place to start for securing funding is with the franchisor since they may already have a relationship with a preferred funding partner.
- Avoid insufficient funding: One of the most important things for first-timers is to avoid starting out undercapitalized (one of the leading causes of business failure according to the SBA). You can do this by estimating realistically for working capital, and by leaving enough of a buffer to help with unexpected costs.