How Entrepreneurial Should a Franchisee Be?

Does a Good Franchisee Have to Be a Natural Entrepreneur?

“Be your own boss!” “Unleash your potential!” “Own your future!” Wow, it all sounds so alluring! But what kind of a person makes a good franchisee? Is it true that a person who is too entrepreneurial isn’t a good fit as a franchisee?

This is the million-dollar question! If you are a franchisor, you have probably given some thought to the qualities you’re looking for in a franchisee—including entrepreneurial spirit and skill set. And if not, this is something you should investigate thoroughly to prevent a nasty “break-up” for this unique relationship.

Many franchise industry experts say the number one mistake franchisors make is getting the wrong franchisee. Often the thing that is “wrong” is that they are not following the operational system – because they are too entrepreneurial and want to do things their own way. Like any bad separation, the fallout of this decision can get ugly, including legal costs to get them out, negativity they spread within the franchise, and damage to the brand’s reputation.

By nature, entrepreneurs generally want to get into business for themselves, to “be their own boss,” and have the freedom to do what they want, the way they want. Although the security of buying into a proven franchise with support systems might seem like a good way to reduce risk, true entrepreneurs will die of frustration in a prescribed system that doesn’t let them do everything their own way.

So here’s the catch. While it’s true that you want to award franchises to prospects who are creative, they need to understand the importance of following your operational system. After all, this is a system that has been tried, tested and true, right? Why re-invent the wheel? But what about new ideas, isn’t it possible people on the front lines might have worthy suggestions?

Okay, so maybe your franchisees do need some entrepreneurial spirit. They need to be able to think for themselves, yet understand the benefits of the consistency in the system. Those who strictly “follow the rules” and expect automatic profit without taking any initiative will not grow their business.

So what characteristics make a successful franchisee? It’s important to find team players who are energetic and motivated yet willing and able to work within some guidelines.

The challenge is that entrepreneurs and “true franchisees” share certain characteristics, the most obvious being excitement for bringing new ideas to the table.  In a newer franchise, since systems are a little less rigid, franchisees can be a little more entrepreneurial.  Often early on there is more opportunity for franchisees to provide and implement new ideas.  However, in a more established franchise, less entrepreneurial often works out better, as franchisees have to be patient enough to let their ideas work their way through the system, knowing their ideas might not even get implemented.

Here’s a hot tip to determine whether a prospective franchisee is going to follow the system: watch for red flags during the screening process that indicates a desire to change the rules, with questions such as “Can I design my own uniforms?” or “Do we have to sell XX product?” Already they’re trying to change a system that they are not even a part of yet!

For more great tips, help with the screening process, and practical strategies to assess if a franchisee has the right amount of entrepreneurial spirit and other important qualities, contact me at or through my website

I look forward to helping you find what’s right for you to grow your business!