The Profitable Route to Self-Employment

22nd August 2019

Small and medium-sized businesses account for over 99% of all private businesses in the United Kingdom, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. It may sound impressive, but the reality is that only a handful of these businesses survive long enough to make it beyond the 3-year mark.

Compare those statistics to a different route taken towards self-employment. We’re talking about a route where 93% of businesses claimed profitability in 2018, 6 in 10 of them turned over more than £250,000 and where they achieved a collective turnover of over £17 billion in 2018 alone.*

We’re talking about the recent increase in popularity of a different type of independent business. We’re talking about Franchises.

The Sole Trader struggle

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says 20% of those who adopt a sole trading business route fail within their first year, and 60% by their fifth year, whilst the British Franchise Association/NatWest Franchise Survey confirms that the failure rate for Franchises remains very low, with fewer than 1% per year closing due to commercial failure*. Despite the unknown, the drive to work independently still continues.  What we do know, from many of the franchisees that we’ve worked with, adopting an independent path of work, albeit exciting with added flexibility and self-governance options, can be an isolated one. The luxury of having a support teams to perform critical business practices like accounting, marketing, supplier management and sales, no longer exists. The person choosing to work independently now adopts a new role – and quite often, a role for which they’re not ready. Although statistics show that the number of private, self-starter businesses has grown, statistics also highlight an upturn in the number of non-employing businesses too. It seems like the more we grow, the less we employ. These same trends highlight the prevalence of an appetite to work independently, but an uncertainty and inability to sustain that business for the long run.


Tricia Craig has been a Metro Rod franchisee for over 20 years. She told us a little more about what appealed to her about the Metro Rod franchise in particular: “I truly believed that this would be a recession-proof business and would bring together all my skills from my past careers – the training, procedure writing, telephone complaints and customer service. I also felt that I could run this business with my ex-husband and still be the mother that I wanted to be to my two young children.

“Being a franchisee has its benefits after 18 years, just as it did when I first started. The support that you get is second to none – I can ask for guidance and advice if I need it, and there will always be someone willing to help. Help is always available. I also get the opportunity to use IT systems which would be impossible for me to afford alone, and then of course there is the work that we get purely because of the Metro Rod name. I sell the reputation of Metro Rod to new clients along with the guarantee that we have a network of franchises that can help if we need them.”

Growing diversity poised for success

In 4 years, the number of people employed in franchising has risen by 14%. Where once, the office commute used to govern the working world, we now see a more connected, networked business economy. Individuals now have an opportunity to build their own long-term success plan, with the right support in place. And for many, the franchising route has been the answer. And it’s not only the way we work that’s evolving; the Franchising sector is under massive change too. Some of the earlier franchise models were limited to coffee chains and fast food outlets, whereas now, new franchising opportunities are evolving daily. Demand is increasing for hospitality, health & wellbeing, personal care and trade-based routes such as SMART Repair, oven cleaning and B2B Drainage Services.

Restoring balance with a desire for growth

Franchise Brands plc has helped over 450 franchisees in 12 countries around the world discover their career independence and regain control over their work-life balance.

ChipsAway Caroline ClennellJim and Caroline Clennell invested in a ChipsAway SMART automotive repairs franchise in October 2016 and got off to a flying start. Soon after joining, they were awarded Newcomer of the Year, 2017 at ChipsAway’s annual Conference “We both have a passion for cars, but having never been self-employed before. We wanted the backing of a strong, identifiable brand and something that would offer us support. These are things can take years to develop if you are starting from scratch, but if you buy a franchise, a lot of this is already in place. As a couple, we were concerned that working together might be a problem for us. However, we are delighted with how close it has bought us. We love working together, running our own business and the freedom that brings. We’re delighted that we have a brand-new skill that we have the opportunity to perfect.”.

For many, establishing a benchmark that will underpin their careers has been the driver for an independent career move. More under-30s are choosing the franchising-route as a way to create their own independent career path than ever before.

“No single person is efficient at doing everything, which is why many of our franchisees have chosen to work with us because we offer a structure to launch, operate and grow a business.” Says Tim Harris, Managing Director of the ChipsAway and Ovenclean Brands. “Our turn-key franchise opportunities give our franchisees a tried and tested business model which eliminates a lot of the worry and stress which comes with starting out on your own. We’ve helped people from all backgrounds and walks of life start successful franchises. The expertise of our team is instrumental in supporting these business owners to achieve their goals.”

A collaborative approach to growth means that each Franchisee shares in the benefits of a networked organisation and brand. Working with the right Franchise network delivers critical support in marketing, training and operational business practice that builds their business and reduces risk of failure and loss of investment.  A distinct alternative to starting out on your own.

ovenclean man with vanWe understand the challenges of a working in a new way; we understand the demands to regain control, and this is how we have grown our network of Franchisees across Metro Rod, ChipsAway, Ovenclean, and Barking Mad to over 450 proud business owners. If you’re ready to explore the Franchising world, and are interested in finding out more about how we can help you, get in touch with us at

*NatWest and bfa 2018 Franchise Landscape report