Want to start a business but don’t know where to start? Franchising may be the answer. That’s the advice of Jack Armstrong, owner of FranNet of Northern New Jersey and also Sunbelt Business Brokers, both based in Metuchen.

Armstrong says that U.S. Department of Commerce statistics have shown that while individual businesses have the highest failure rate, franchises have the highest success rate.

Armstrong will speak on “Franchising as a Small Business Option,” on Monday, October 23, at 6:45 p.m. for the Greater Princeton Area chapter of SCORE at the South Brunswick Library. To register for the free workshop, E-mail info@scoreprinceton.org or call 609-393-0505.

Franchises have many advantages over independent businesses, says Armstrong. They include the ability to get advice and information from existing franchise owners before even buying into the franchise; easier financing; tried and true marketing and sales plans; the ability to pay less for advertising, supplies, and inventory as part of a an entity that may have hundreds of other stores; and expert support from the franchising company.

Armstrong grew up in Summit. His father worked in a Western Electric factory and his mother was a stay-at-home mom with him and his three brothers. He holds an accounting degree from Bemidji State University in Minnesota and an MBA from Pace.

After college Armstrong worked as the first comptroller and treasurer for New Jersey Monthly magazine. After that he bought a Manhattan-based culture and history magazine, Americana, that he owned for 14 years.

Armstrong, a 30-year resident of Lawrenceville, had done his thesis at Pace on franchising. In 1994 he sold Americana and flew to California to buy the rights for a FranNet franchise covering the territory from Trenton to Bergen County. He bought the Sunbelt franchise in 1997.

FranNet works with individuals to help them buy a franchise that will play to their strengths. Sunbelt is a business brokerage franchise that sells small, privately held businesses, whether franchises or not, for people who are ready to retire.

For those interested in buying a franchise, Armstrong offers several industries where franchises are available: food, retail, automotive, business services, and consumer services. “Food and retail are having a tough time; they are very competitive, and people are not shopping or eating out as much,” he said. “What’s growing is the service economy — business and consumer services.”

For people on the lookout for a good business opportunity, many franchisers are looking to help out. But before opening your pocketbook, investigate the potential in the particular industry and, equally important, make sure your skills match the requirements for the business.

Although an array of skills are necessary for success in a franchise, people’s particular strengths and weaknesses often suggest the types of businesses that will be a good match.

“Most who come in don’t know what they want,” said Armstrong, “so we have them take an online assessment and interview them to find out what their strengths and weaknesses are.”

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