Buy a Franchise: You Can’t Beat Gravity

By Dan Pourbaix, Franchise Owner and Independent Business Owner

Why Buy a Franchise Business? A Lesson From My Youth…

When I was a young child (though probably older than I’d like to admit) a friend and I were playing in the sand at a lake and wanted to create a river through the sand. The problem was that we had to get water from the lake and carry it to the top of the river to follow back into the lake. We got tired of carrying the buckets and searched for options to automate this process. We found a hose and decided we would try to use that to deliver water to the top of our river. We worked for many hours trying to figure out how to get water to flow from the lake to the top of the river above the lake. Try as we might, we couldn’t get water to flow uphill. 

Finally we waved the white flag and gave up. My friend’s stepdad who had been quietly observing our efforts while peacefully enjoying his afternoon at the lake asked us why we quit. When we told him we couldn’t get it to work, he replied, “Of course, water won’t flow uphill.  You can’t beat gravity.” At the time I didn’t understand why he didn’t tell us earlier, but looking back I imagine it was because he was enjoying having us preoccupied with a project all afternoon and not bugging him. He knew the problem, gravity. We of course understood gravity, but we thought we could beat it. We couldn’t. Gravity was fighting us every step of the way and we simply couldn’t beat it with the tools we had. 


The Difference: Owning an Independent Business vs. Owning a Franchise

As I thought about my experience in business ownership – both in starting franchise businesses and non-franchise businesses – this story highlighted a key difference in my mind. Had my friend’s stepdad simply walked over and convinced us that water isn’t going to flow uphill without a different tool (and had we listened to him) we would have avoided wasting our afternoon on a futile pursuit. Instead, we squandered our afternoon pursuing something that was never going to work. 

The key difference is this; when you buy a franchise, you buy a proven business model, a support team to help guide you to success, and a reproducible system for operating each area of your franchise. You are not on your own trying to figure it all out and wondering if it will work. When you own an independent business, it is up to you to develop the business model, create the systems, and implement all of it. It is up to you to determine everything. Is your business idea a good idea? Do you have a successful business model? Will people buy your product or service? How will you market it? Etc, etc. When you own a franchise business, these questions are answered. Buying a franchise business doesn’t automatically mean that you will be successful in your venture, but starting with the tools, resources, and systems of a proven franchise puts you far ahead.


Working Harder or Working Smarter

Owning a franchise doesn’t necessarily mean that you will avoid hard work. In fact, depending on the business model, you might find yourself feeling just as busy as an independent operator. The CEO at a franchise I was involved in for over 15 years frequently encouraged franchisees with, “If it is to be, it is up to me” (a phrase I believe originated in a popular book by Thomas B. Smith called If It Is to Be, It’s up to Me: How to Develop the attitude of a Winner and Become a Leader). He would use that phrase to remind us, as franchisees, that he nor anyone at the franchisor’s office was responsible for our success. Our success was up to us, and we had to do whatever it took if we wanted to be successful. They gave us the system, the tools and the resources to be successful, but it was up to us to do it. 

Alternatively, when operating a business on my own, I don’t have the benefit of the proven system and the resources of the franchisor.  It is up to me to figure out everything it will take to be successful in my business. 

Buying a franchise doesn’t mean your efforts will be easy, but you do get the benefit of working smarter, not harder. You see, when I was a child trying to get water to flow uphill, had I called my franchisee support team and told them what I was trying to do, aside from possibly laughing at me, they would have told me that it won’t work.  Or, they would have said that they’ve already tried it, and before wasting my afternoon, I should buy a water pump. When owning a business that is not a franchise, I have to figure all of that out by myself. I may spend many hours pursuing something that simply isn’t going to work. 

And I have. 


My Recommendation When Looking to Buy a Business

There is great value in what a franchise can offer with a proven business model, support, and systems.  I’m not arguing that you should never start or buy a business apart from a franchise model (my most recent business isn’t a franchise).  My argument is that owning a franchise business has many advantages to help set you up to achieve success. If you are considering starting or buying a business, I highly suggest you explore franchise models and determine if the proven business models they provide are right for you. Learn a lesson from my youth, don’t waste your time trying to defeat gravity.

Franchise Flippers thanks Dan Pourbaix for contributing this article and sharing his expertise in the franchise space.  Franchise Flippers is the premier franchise resale marketplace and resource center. We are dedicated to helping franchise buyers and sellers get win-win deals done. Visit us at and learn how we can help you.

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