There were millions of business start-ups worldwide during 2020, despite (or in some cases because of) the COVID-19 pandemic. That included a significant surge in interest in becoming self-employed via a franchise agreement.

For some, becoming their own boss was a reaction to losing their job, while other people embraced opportunities for start-ups to meet both consumer and business needs during this challenging period.

To give you an idea of the rate of new business creation: in France, there were 84,000 new ventures launched in just one month (October); the UK had a record high of 770,000 new start-ups in 2020; the US saw a 95 per cent increase in new business applications during the same year; and Japan recorded a 14 per cent upturn in business creation between 2019 and 2020.

For many entrepreneurs during this period, the most assured and profitable way to get their business off the ground was to optimise the benefits of franchise arrangements. If this is a path you too are considering, your research may well include which franchises have been most popular during the pandemic?

Logistics and delivery

Not surprisingly, van-based franchises for sale have grown in significance due to the wide-sweeping need to get more deliveries direct to homes during COVID-19 restrictions. This is set to be a continuing franchise trend in 2022, as many consumers now rely on getting both bricks and clicks businesses to deliver to their door.

Courier franchises, and those related to issues such as driver training or haulage, are also going to continue to be popular. Increasing demand for delivery services has coincided with driver shortages in many countries. If you can assist with a relevant B2B franchise, you are going to have an eager and ready-made customer base.

Home-based franchises

The pandemic brought a significant acceleration of remote and flexible work patterns for big companies, and a corresponding increase in home-based business start-ups. Fortunately, franchise opportunities that involve working from home are diverse and plentiful, including an attractive array of low-cost franchise agreements.

During the economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 crisis, the option to be your own boss with little or no capital investment for premises, vehicles or equipment was naturally a big draw.

Home-based franchises are also the perfect start-up path for parents and anyone who wants to control the amount of time they invest in their new enterprise. Especially if you combine both the convenience of working from home with meeting increased demand for some services, such as education franchises.

Or, the prospect of creating a home-based goods franchise, selling items delivered from the manufacturer direct to customers, has also proved appealing.

IT franchises

As the pandemic brought increased reliance on technology, naturally computer-related franchises have proved popular and likely to succeed. This could include providing individuals with IT training or repairs, or technology-based franchises for business IT support.

There are also franchise opportunities in software development to correspond with the big push for companies to digitalise, connect and integrate their business systems.

Retail franchisesNaturally, fast food franchises have continued to dominate the list of most popular franchising options. However, as more consumers are now using their technology to shop online, there has also been a great deal of interest in starting businesses in other aspects of retail.

This type of popular pandemic franchise is another one that covers a wide spectrum of options, including turning a hobby or passion into a way to make money. For example, arts and crafts franchises, and franchises selling pet products, have proved a dream come true for some people who’ve grabbed the chance to be their own boss.

Health and fitness franchises

This is another natural outcome of the pandemic. Growing awareness of the need to stay fit and healthy has inspired new start-ups for some time, but the coronavirus crisis added a new degree of urgency!

This has made options such as sports franchises, gym start-ups, nutrition-based ventures and franchises in health management highly attractive.

How to choose from popular pandemic franchises

The above are some of the start-up categories that have proved buoyant during the pandemic. However, keep in mind that worldwide trends have created a ready market of customers in other sectors too, such as care franchises, to tackle the ageing population. Also, you need to balance current franchise popularity with consumer or business needs in your specific location.

Finding the best franchise depends on your skills, career experience and the amount of money you have available to invest, as well as your preferences and the level of profit you hope to achieve. For example, your expectations may include creating a multi-site franchise operation (now or in the future) in one of the most popular sectors. Or, you may have your eyes on long term gains, and be seeking an investment that offers strong franchise resale potential.

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