06/05/2012 05:04 pm ET Updated Aug 05, 2012

D.C. -- A Capital for Start-Ups

The economy got you down? You're not alone. Increasingly, displaced executives and employed executives who feel that they are at risk of losing their jobs comprise the bulk of my clientele.

Across America, the economic upheaval of the last five years has led large numbers of
professionals from shaky corporate jobs. Increasingly, they're turning to small business
ownership -- specifically franchises -- to create their own security.

The good news is that Washington, D.C. is one of the most supportive cities for those
considering small business ownership, according to report recently released by Kiplinger, a
leading business publication.

The report named D.C. one of the 10 best cities in America to start a business, explaining: "Job
seekers often associate the District with government work, but the capital's educated workforce
and deep-pocketed investors make it an attractive option for entrepreneurs as well."

Washington's economic outlook remains positive, despite the issues still impeding the
national economic recovery. According to the D.C. Chamber of Commerce's annual business

The Washington metropolitan area continues to boast the lowest unemployment rates
of any major community in the nation. Home prices regionally have begun to rise again and job
growth is increasingly apparent across a variety of industries.

It's not surprising that so many people are looking for other ways to make a living. Small
businesses, including franchise businesses, are the backbone of American job creation
supporting nearly 18 million U.S. jobs, says the International Franchising Association.

So what should you consider before jumping out of the corporate world to become an

  1. Know your personality. What are you good at? What interests you? What kind of hours do you want to work? What are your long-term goals?
  2. See a broader picture. Franchising is more than just French fries. A lot of people who think of franchises automatically think of restaurants or hotels. Today, there are many new kinds of opportunities -- retail and home-based.
  3. Understand your risk tolerance. Franchises are usually less risky than pure start-ups. Even within the franchise arena though, some have long track records of success and others are newer with little or no track record. Knowing your tolerance for being a pioneer is important to understand in advance.
  4. Have working capital. Make sure you have a buffer. New businesses take a little time to start generating profits, and you'll want to have cash on hand to cover expenses and pay for extra marketing.
  5. Work with a professional. Use a franchise consultant -- such as myself -- to help guide you through a process of finding a franchise fit. Their expertise will help you avoid costly pitfalls and their services are free to the potential franchisee.

The message here is don't be a victim of the economy. Many options exist for making a living --
including ones that give you more control -- especially here in D.C. where the business climate is start-up friendly. As you explore your inner entrepreneur, know that many great resources and opportunities are out there to help make it a successful transition from desk jockey to business owner.