It's no secret that the economy has taken some shots over the past few years. At first, a lot of companies tightened their belts by putting a freeze on hiring new employees. As the economy continued trending downward, though, companies began trimming from the other end of the spectrum: the older, more experienced employees of the Baby Boom generation.
So what do these older Americans do when their companies let them go, but they aren't ready to retire? While some look in vain for new employment opportunities, others others are creating their own path by buying a franchise.
In fact, franchising is the perfect fit for Boomers who are looking for a new career. Here's why.
Reason No. 1: Boomers have the right skill set. They already have the corporate skills and experience acquired throughout years at their previous job to make a franchise successful. They've been there and done it. Usually, these types of experienced corporate workers possess a knack for understanding leadership, sales and basic economics. They tend to have innate people skills and a natural desire to work hard. The only difference is that now, they're the ones in charge. Essentially, they're giving themselves a promotion in lieu of being laid off, choosing to become a franchisee rather than to remain a downsize.
Reason 2: Convenience. Since growing a company can sometimes take a lifetime commitment, they find it much easier to pick up a ready-made recipe for success (their own franchise), rather than starting a company from scratch. In fact, nearly 90 percent of all new businesses fail within the first five years. Most older Americans in the second half of their careers aren't willing to bet their 401K against those odds. Franchising has a much higher success rate.
Roger Panitch, owner of the Atlanta franchise of College Hunks Hauling Junk, was among the wave of Americans who were laid off, mid-career, at the beginning of the economic downturn. The reason he became a franchisee, rather than starting a new business? "There are 25 [franchisees] before me who've gone through a similar thing," he said. "They've streamlined what we need to do [to be successful]."
Reason 3: Motivation to be the boss. More than likely, these former corporate warriors had instances along the way where they thought "I know this isn't the best way to do this, but it's what the boss wants."
Becoming a franchisee for them can represent the end of repressed opinions. Clearly, there are many other examples of the truth behind the old saying "it"s good to be the boss." Still, for some older Americans, the desire to become a franchisee runs a little deeper than just wanting a few extra perks.
Steve Roper, owner of the Raleigh franchise of College Hunks Hauling Junk, is a prime example. Steve had always promised himself that, one day, he'd own his own business. But, after 35 years in the retail industry, it seemed like it just wasn't meant to be. His entire career, he figured, would be spent working for others. That is until one day, when Steve came across a franchise opportunity with College Hunks.
He knew he was taking a chance. But Steve, like many entrepreneurs, got to a point where attempting to achieve his lifelong goal was as important as the result itself. He made up his mind, quit his job and took a shot at a franchise. It worked out for Steve, but he'll be the first to tell you that even if it hadn't worked out, it still would've been worth the shot.
Nick Friedman is President and co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving. He started the business in college with his best friend and a beat up cargo van; he now owns more than 35 locations nationwide. He's a member The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization that provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business's development and growth.