How To Overcome Fear When Buying a Business
Updated: Aug 25
Use Fear to Your Benefit
Why do people go through the whole process of looking for and finding a great franchise opportunity just to back out at the last minute? The answer is fear, and it is the single most likely factor to prevent people from realizing their dreams.
Buying a franchise is one of the most significant decisions you will ever make, so feeling fear is not only expected, it's inevitable. The only problem with fear is when you allow it to stop you from doing something you know will make a positive difference in your life.
Who Has Fear?
Everyone does! Fear prevents us from jumping out of a moving car or going over a waterfall in a barrel. Fear also helps us make choices that are less likely to endanger our lives, such as gambling our life's savings on a horse race or marrying someone we've known only a few days.
However, when we have enough information to make an well-informed decision, we can often get over our fears and do things beyond our comfort zones. According to Susan Jeffers, author of Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, when fear or anxiety crop up during the decision making process, it's best to ask yourself where these feelings are coming from:
Are you fearful that you can't handle the new situation?, or
Are you having doubts because you don't feel you have enough information?
The second answer can be handled through a proper process. If you have doubts about taking action, make a list of all your questions and find the answers. However, if you are dealing with internal fears, that's a different situation altogether. You'll need to develop an internal solution to address that.
Fear Perspective From Actual Franchisees
After working with a candidate for over a year and spending countless hours helping her and her husband address their fear of buying a franchise, they finally took the leap of faith.
In our follow-up discussions, she shared some insight on managing their fear through the process: "I managed to get through the franchise research and purchasing process with a minimum amount of anxiety. However, now that we are getting close to opening the business, I find I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I've done the right thing."
She brings up a good point here. Fear can occur at any time during the process and manifest itself in many different ways. As a consultant, and having been down this road myself, I fully expect it to happen; in fact, I know it will. I help my candidates understand that fear is normal, and if they don't feel fear and anxiety at some point during the process, I'll be concerned.
The number one fear seems to be about money. Most people I work with have been in the corporate world for a long time. While they may be dissatisfied with their current situation, they still have a certain level of comfort. Many times their comfort zone outweighs the fear they encounter pursuing their dreams.
In my experience, most employees think they can predict their future in their current job position. And while they see owning a franchise as potentially more beneficial, it still falls into their category of 'the unknown'. One piece of advice I give to all my candidates is when they feel fear, turn turn your fears into questions and let's figure out how to get answers to them. It doesn't mean they'll like the answers they hear, but they won't be able to move forward until they do it.
In another example, we learn that sometimes having all the facts isn't enough. What happens when the franchisor has answered all of your questions, but you still can't calm that little voice inside your head?
Another one of my candidates, who has owned several franchise concepts, has two suggestions for anyone looking to buy a franchise:
First, do a lot of reading about marketing, so you develop a sense of what it takes to be successful. "I think a key to moving beyond fear is to project yourself into the franchisee role by thinking about sites, managers, staffing, and marketing. If you do your homework and feel confident you can kick start your business, excitement will replace your fear."
Second, make many validation calls to existing franchisees to learn from people who do it every day. "This helps them understand the possible land mines in the process and enables them to connect with franchisees they may be able to use as role models or mentors down the road."
He goes on to say, "Because I've owned multiple franchises myself, I understand how big an issue fear can be. However, if you do your homework and are willing to put in the time and effort to give the business a great start, the fear will go away. Instead of asking yourself, 'Will I fail?', it tends to be 'In what month will this business be successful, and what can I do to make this happen sooner?'" Great coaching by a seasoned veteran who has gone through it himself.
Not Making a Decision Is a Decision
One common way people deal with fear is not to decide at all. By not making a decision, they avoid dealing with the anxiety but could miss the opportunity to reach their goals.
Preparing yourself for fear to rear its head is an integral part of the investigation process. Ask yourself if you are prepared to decide when logic tells you it is the right decision, even if your subconscious tells you to wait and think about it some more.
Remember that the decision-making process is not fool-proof. Sometimes we become so consumed with making the "right" decision that we fear making the "wrong" decision. When it's all said and done- you've made your validation calls, checked off your lists, and asked all of your questions, the final decision still requires a leap of faith.
Hedging Your Bets
There are three main reasons people invest in a franchise:
Buy up the learning curve
Speed up the financial breakeven
There are many benefits to a franchise system that could take years to duplicate and or require more capital than you could come up with. Consider what it takes to create proven operating systems, customized software and technology, proprietary products, supply chain management and quality control, recognizable branding, and marketing expertise, to name a few.
You've significantly improved your odds of success by recognizing these benefits and investigating a proven franchise system. If you have gone through the process and done all your homework but still can't make a decision, your final doubts are likely more about your abilities rather than the franchise itself.
By properly assessing your interests, skills, and experience, we can identify opportunities where risks are at an acceptable level, and the potential benefits are worth your effort. Take the first step, and schedule some time for a 15-minute intro call below. I'd love to hear your story and help you figure out if franchising is right for you!
Don Taylor, Franchise Consultant
By FranChoice, Inc. and Don Taylor