According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, approximately a quarter of veterans have expressed interest in launching their own businesses. Many of them are looking into franchising, probably because of the convenience it offers.
With a ready business framework, franchising is one of the easiest ways to join the market. According to the International Franchise Association, one out of seven franchises by an American veteran.
Is Franchising Right for You?
Although franchising offers excellent opportunities, you are probably wondering whether it is right for you. There are several things you need to consider before you pursue franchising. First, it is essential to choose an industry you are passionate about and likely to bring in returns.
Because it requires a lot of attention and hard work, you could lose a lot of money if you don’t make a suitable investment. Also, do not forget to consider whether this is the right time for both you and your military family to launch a new business venture.
Other than the viability of business ownership, and other circumstances, you also need to evaluate how much you want to invest and finance your new franchising business.
Assistance Available for Military Veterans
If you are a military veteran looking at your finance options for franchise opportunities, you should first inventory your resources; this will help you decide on the best path to take. There are plenty of creative tactics and options you can employ to make the right choice.
The good news is that there is plenty of financing help available to former service people. You might even find the most promising one from the brand franchisor itself.
These days, almost 400 brands are part of the Veterans Franchise Transition Initiative by the International Franchise Association. Also called “VetFran,” this program helps veterans interested in starting a small business. Over 1,700 former military personnel have used this method to start their franchises.
Participating franchise systems have agreed to offer discounts, incentives, and many other financial products to people who have been honorably discharged from the military. Also, some members of the Supplier Forum take part in the program by reducing or even waiving fees.
On top of that, the U.S. Small Business Administration runs the veterans business outreach center program; this program provides assessment, counseling, assistance, training, and other
services to veterans interested in becoming entrepreneurs and business owners. This program also has a feasibility analysis that can help determine the probable success of the business plan.
How to Decide on a Financing Plan
Before you decide to venture into franchising, you need to come up with a financing plan. Let us walk you through the process of deciding on a financing plan:
The first thing to do is to make a personal financial statement. In this financial statement, make sure that you include details of other people who will join the venture, if any. You can use the SBA version of this on the website of the agency.
After finishing the statement, check out your available assets and funds. It is crucial to determine your level of risk. Ask yourself how much of your own resources you are ready to invest in the franchise. Once you do this, it is time to whip up a strategic business plan.
Capital Sources for Franchise Financing
There are numerous options available for veterans to finance a franchise. Here are the top 7 sources of franchise funding that you may consider.
If you want to steer clear of debt, this is the way to go. This might not be the best course of action if you want to operate more than just one unit. Cash is going to be essential to your growth if you become a multi-unit operator.
In case you plan to get help from an “angel” investor in the form of your family or friends, it is recommended to have the business terms documented in writing. Protecting your Cash is an excellent way to ensure that there will be few complications in the future.
2. Conventional Loans
Typically, this option is limited to business owners interested in unit expansion. New owners with specific direct experience might also be eligible for conventional loans. An advantage is that most conventional banks and credit unions offer unique programs designed for former service members.
However, you should keep in mind that lenders usually want real estate collateral to lower their risk. In general, terms run anywhere from five to ten years. Also, most lenders prefer to work with a franchise that is already established compared to a startup.
Does your franchise require equipment and other hard assets like office machinery, vehicles, and the like? If so, leasing might be the best option for you. The terms and rates vary widely; hence, you need to research the equipment package and look for the most lucrative financing option.
4. Self-Directed Retirement Plans
There is a possibility that you can use your IRA or 401(k) for your franchise. While there are specific requirements, completing the process should not take longer than a few weeks. However, it can be pretty strict, so it is a good idea to acquire the assistance of an expert. You can get in touch with members of the Supplier Forum who specialize in and support VetFran.
5. SBA Loans
This Loan type is a common way to finance a franchise. The SBA Loan was designed to lower the risk for the lenders via a guarantee on the principal.The SBA Loan was a program of the U.S. government to assist with risk. If there is real estate involved, a part of the loan is directly funded by the government.
A downside of this is that the application process can be rather cumbersome. You and your spouse need to submit personal guarantees. Also, there is a good chance that a mortgage on your primary residence and other properties will be required. Make sure to ask for help from your CPA or franchisor when you apply for an SBA loan.
6. Patriot Express Loans
SBA recently began offering Patriot Express loans to military families interested in establishing or expanding a small business. You can apply for the Patriot Express Loan if you are a veteran, an active-duty servicemember under the Transition Assistance Program, a service-disabled veteran, a reservist, a National Guard member, or the spouse of those mentioned above.
The down payment for this loan might be lower than an SBA loan, but the interest rate can be much higher. Also, it is a risky option. Therefore, it is recommended to check whether you are eligible for an SBA loan before proceeding with this one.
7. Direct franchisor financing
Not many franchisors offer financing options to veterans. You can learn whether this is the case by looking at Item 10 on the disclosure document. Be careful because available financing might not have the best terms. The key here is to do due diligence to see whether this is the right option for you.
You can use several or even all of these avenues to fund your franchise. It is a good idea to use more than one. Just make sure that you explore which ones you are eligible to participate in. Do not forget to consider whether the method suits your financial situation, risk tolerance, and concept.
These days, financing is more challenging than it used to be. If your applications do not get approved right away, do not give up! It is only a matter of time before your hard work and persistence pay off.