Franchise or Independent Business: Which Is Best for You?

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May 24, 2021
how to start a fitness franchise

One of the most tempting reasons to pursue business ownership is to have the chance to be your own boss. In fact, 26% of entrepreneurs say their biggest motivation was the idea of being their own boss, while 23% wanted to pursue their passion. Many of our own franchise owners at BODYBAR Pilates were eager to learn how to start a fitness business to accomplish both of those goals.

A 2018 study found, however, that among the top five barriers to starting a business are financial concerns, fear of failure, excessive stress, and lack of confidence. Business ownership isn’t suited for everyone, but the stability, flexibility, and opportunities that come with taking complete ownership of your career can be exhilarating.

Luckily, franchising is a helpful option for aspiring business owners who don’t want to go it alone. It doesn’t have to be daunting – and here’s why.

6 Key Benefits of a Franchise vs. Your Own Business (Sole Proprietorship)

1. Proven processes and systems 

A major difference between a franchise vs. independent businesses is that franchising gives you access to reliable business systems. There are franchises out there built on years, even decades, of success due to the established systems, management training, and operating principles. While starting your own business can be an exciting adventure, it doesn’t come with a roadmap or the proven operations playbook that you can typically expect from an established franchise.

2. Dedicated training and support

One of the biggest advantages of operating a franchise over an independent business is the training and support you receive as soon as you sign the dotted line. In some franchise networks, new franchisees can expect a training program and pre-opening, grand opening, and ongoing support. But remember – not all opportunities are equal!

3. The backing of an experienced team

As we like to say in the franchising industry, you get to go into business for yourself, but not by yourself! For those who are on the fence between buying a franchise or starting a business alone, this is often a tipping point toward the franchising option. When you invest in a franchise, you’re investing in a team that’s dedicated to ensuring your success. At BODYBAR, for example, our CEO and COO own several BODYBAR studios and share their firsthand experience with other owners!

4. Flexible ownership 

Whether you want to be an owner-operator, semi-absentee, or a hands-off executive owner, there are plenty of franchise ownership opportunities out there that are built to fit your lifestyle – or support the life you want to lead.

5. Marketing support

Many business people feel insecure about marketing. In addition to having the support of a corporate marketing team, franchisees often benefit from having an immediately recognizable brand and the loyalty that goes with it. Franchise branding means prospective business owners don’t have to figure out a logo, brand colors, a brand voice and tone, or any of those details. It’s taken care of by the corporate team and shared with franchisees.

6. Strong financial opportunity

There are many sound financial reasons for buying a franchise. Starting your own business can cost a lot of time, stress, and unexpected funds as your work toward launching, building a customer base, and establishing your brand.

A franchise, on the other hand, comes with set startup costs, proven processes to get you up and running, and (ideally) brand recognition. These advantages will help you bypass many of the obstacles and guesswork that new business owners can face.

While there are expenses that franchise owners are generally responsible for, such as rent, utilities, and staff expenses, you’ll have a clear picture of these expected costs as you decide to become a franchise owner.

Of course, at the end of the day, nothing is more important than the bottom line. When it comes to revenue, franchise owners usually keep a significant percentage of the gross margin from every business transaction, and a smaller remainder goes to the franchisor.

The Success Rate of a Franchise vs. an Independent Business

Some resources claim that franchises have more than a 90% success rate after two years, but this is recycled information based on bad data. Truthfully, there aren’t any recent large-scale studies that confirm the actual success rate of franchises vs. sole proprietorships. However, the International Franchising Association (IFA) published a comprehensive 2021 report that confirmed franchises’ essential role in the US economy. Franchises produce 1.8 times more sales than independent businesses. Additionally, 32% of respondents in the IFA study said they wouldn’t have been able to start a business without the help of a franchisor. 

The franchise success rate varies a lot by industry and by franchise system, as some brands are more established than others and operate in lower-risk verticals. It’s important to engage with a franchisor that has a proven business model, plenty of built-in support, and transparent communication (and data!) about your potential return on investment.

So, Should I Buy a Franchise or Start My Own Business?

There are pros and cons to both options. Pursue the opportunity that best fits your lifestyle and business goals. If you want less risk and more structure, franchising is likely a solid option.

If boutique fitness is your passion, consider franchising with BODYBAR Pilates! With BODYBAR, you get access to a seasoned executive team with deep expertise in developing successful fitness brands. Interested in learning how to start a fitness business and become a BODYBAR Boss? Learn more about our Pilates franchise opportunities today.