5 best home-based franchises to start

This advice guide outlines the most popular types of home-based franchise, looking at the investment and skills needed to start each, and the pros and cons of different types and who they suit best. (Find out more about home businesses or franchising.)

The most popular home-based franchises are:

  • Cleaning services
  • Children's activities and education
  • Pet services
  • Gardening services
  • Online businesses

Cleaning services

According to the Cleaning Industry National Training Organisation (CINTO), the UK cleaning industry is worth around £10bn and employs approximately 820,000 people. Which means we're talking about a big industry with plenty of opportunity for people like you. When running a cleaning service, you'll most often be managing a team rather than doing the cleaning yourself. This is ideal for the home-based entrepreneur because all you need is a small office.

The pros:

  • There is a fast-growing demand for domestic cleaning services, and the need for commercial cleaning businesses is rising too.
  • Even without the support of the franchisor, employees for cleaning businesses are relatively easy to come by, because it's the type of work that can be done by a wide range of people.

The cons:

  • Organising a group of people can be stressful.
  • Competition is fierce within the industry.

Skills needed:

With a domestic cleaning franchise, you and your staff need no more experience for the cleaning side of things than you'd already have through cleaning your home.

With commercial or specialist cleaning, you and your staff will require training in a multitude of areas, ranging from the operation of floor sweepers to specialist carpet cleaning training.

As with all businesses, you'll need to be familiar with basic business skills such as bookkeeping, but sometimes the franchisor will offer training in these areas. Always find out for certain before signing anything.

Investment:

Around £15,000, or less.

Who it will suit:

You'll need to be good with people to manage your team and clients effectively, and have a natural knack for organisation.

Try…

Belle Casa, a domestic cleaning business. It asks for £9,950 for the franchise rights and equipment. It offers a team of accountants and full training.  Like all the examples in this guide, Bella Casa is approved by the British Franchise Association (BFA).

Ecocleen requires an investment of between £5,000 - £10,000 initially, with an overall investment of around £30,000. It provides accountants, a mentor, full training and (for a small additional fee) a sales team to help you promote your business.

Children's activities & education

If you have young children but are hoping to start a business, running a children's activities or education franchise is one of the best solutions: allowing a balance between your work and personal life.

The pros:

  • You have the opportunity to do something you're passionate about, such as improving children's education and making their lives more fun.
  • Your children can be included in most of the activities, and they can try out your latest ideas to give you an impression of how they'll be received by others.

The cons:

  • Anyone who works with children will tell you it's hard work - there's no time for a break when you've got kids to entertain!
  • Parents trust you to take care of their children: you're under a lot of pressure to make sure they're kept safe and happy.

Skills needed:

The skills needed for these franchises vary, so always research each company thoroughly before investing. You'll definitely need experience working with children, though in a few cases this can be as simple as raising your own. You will also need to familiarise yourself with child safety laws, and have an up-to-date CRB check.

Investment:

The average investment is around £15,000. You may need to buy equipment and toys on top of that.

Who it will suit:

You must enjoy spending time with children! This type of franchise is great if you have kids of your own, but not suited to those with no patience. You'll need plenty of energy too.

Try…

Ugly Bug asks for less than £10,000 for the franchise rights to its children's activity business. That includes training costs.

Computer Xplorers, alternatively, asks for an investment of between £20,000-£30,000, which includes a laptop, software, and full training.

Pet services

More and more pet owners are turning to professionals to make sure their animals get the best care possible. The pet sector in the UK is worth well over the £3bn mark, and research by the Family Pooch Index found the average dog-owning family spends £15,000 per 10 years on their four-legged friend!

The pros:

  • This is the perfect business for animal lovers and those who can no longer keep pets of their own (many retirees invest in these franchises).
  • With the booming pet industry, demand for these types of businesses are continuing to grow, so there's no better time to get started.
  • Animal boarding is a great way to spend time with animals in the comfort of your home.

The cons:

  • This isn't an easy job. Your hours will be long and you'll have to do many unpleasant, scoop-related, tasks.
  • Animal care is demanding: if you need to walk a dog every day you can't enjoy many of the benefits home businesses have to offer.

Skills needed:

The required skills will vary depending on the type of business and the particular franchise. You may simply need experience of having pets, or you might need to have worked with animals professionally.

Investment:

Investment is often less than £15,000, and for many of the businesses (eg. dog walking, pet sitting, pet feeding), little equipment is required. This keeps your overheads low and allows a quicker return on your investment.

Who it will suit:

These businesses are obviously only suited to those who are interested in animals. Franchisors don't want anyone who may give their company a negative image and will take the time to make sure you're right for the business. You'll need to be happy with the company of animals rather than people - a pet franchise offers little human interaction.

Try...

Barking Mad offers home-from-home boarding for pets and requires an investment of £13,350 to become part of the franchise. For your investment, you receive full training, your own territory, uniform, and everything else needed to start a pet sitting business.

Pet Pals asks for an initial investment of £12,500 for its pet care franchise, and you will receive all of the help listed above, plus assistance acquiring and financing the purchase of a pet-friendly van.

Gardening services

Gardening services are becoming increasingly popular for home-based businesses. They're particularly good if you're short on space or like getting out and about - administration can be done at home, but all other work involves travelling to your client. You can choose from a wide range of businesses, specialising in anything from garden design to weed killing.

The pros:

  • Gardening isn't all about small paid-by-the-hour jobs. You can get sizeable contracts with councils and other large organisations involving public spaces. This is a great money-earner, and a fantastic way to build your reputation.
  • Being involved in a franchise of this type often means you will get the tools and materials required at lower prices, decreasing the time it takes to get a return on your investment.

The cons:

  • Your business will be somewhat season-dependent, and the manual work can only be completed during daylight hours.

Skills Needed:

Experience is required for whatever type of gardening business you run. We recommend working for a professional gardener or do training, before embarking on your own business. As with the other businesses, basic management skills, and an understanding of keeping accounts is also required. This may be taught to you by the franchisor.

Investment:

Between £10,000 and £30,000 is needed to purchase and equip most garden service businesses, though that varies based on the particular service you're running.

Who it will suit: 

Anyone who enjoys working outside, and has an interest in gardening.

Try...

Tru Green lawn care requires an investment of between £10,000 and £30,000 for their business franchise license, training, and equipment.

Online businesses

You actually don't have to worry too much about the technical side of things with an online franchise business, as the franchisor controls that. What you actually do varies hugely between companies, from selling products, online consultancy, managing an auction site and much more, though most are sales-based.

The pros:

  • This is a business that thrives in the home environment.
  • An internet-based business requires very little equipment, and after you have paid the initial investment, all you need are a computer and a desk. There's no rush to hire staff, as you can complete most of the work alone.
  • You don't need much experience.

The cons:

  • Working by yourself in front of a computer all day can feel isolating.
  • It can be a real struggle getting people to actually visit your site unless the franchise is well known. Make sure the franchisor offers assistance with gaining traffic.

Skills needed:

A basic understanding of using a computer and the internet is required, however, you will often be taught everything else needed by the franchisor.

Investment:

Investments range from under £10,000 to well over £20,000. You also need to consider the cost of purchasing a computer, desk, and broadband (if you don't already have these), as the franchisor will rarely provide them.

Try...

WSI ask for an investment of £36,800 for their internet and technology franchise, including training, and operational and marketing support.

Resources

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