Q: What are some of the best practices of starting and building a franchise business?

A: Franchising represents a specialized area of business. Many options exist for kinds of businesses to consider, but in order to succeed you will want to consider the advice of John Francis, also known as Johnny Franchise.

According to Francis, who has started five franchise companies and advised owners of countless others: "The first thing is you need to be capitalized to run the business. Having enough to buy is one thing, paying fees, etc., but there's also the startup period before meaningful cash flow."

He notes that will be months and could be up to two years. The second thing Francis suggests is having a genuine passion for that business.

"Buy something you actually enjoy," he said. "If you're an introvert, retail may not be your thing."

Plus, he feels that franchisees become identified with the business in their markets. "It becomes part of your identity, so it helps to really love the business."

Once in the business, following the franchiser system becomes central to success.

"You need to follow the whole system. Implement, don't experiment, and follow your training," he said.

Francis encourages franchisees to call the franchiser with questions and learn from other franchisees in the same group, not just corporate. To that end, Francis says, "fully embrace all the franchiser options — events, training, conferences. You are not alone. If you want to be alone — start from scratch."

He sees the franchiser-sponsored offerings as integral to making franchisees, and the brand, winners in the market.

Finally, he said to make sure to buy into something that will get you trained. Match the culture of the franchise to your skills and experience and understand the life cycles of franchisees in that model. Francis emphasizes, "Most franchises don't think about the end goal from the beginning. Having some idea of how far you want to go and how you want to exit can really enhance the experience."

Mike Porter is a faculty member in the marketing department at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.