Aspiring entrepreneurs face a pivotal decision when starting out. Should they embark on the challenging journey of building an independent business from scratch or explore the world of franchising?

Paula Murphy is a mum-of-three and a multi-unit franchisee for Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries, operating both Monkey Puzzle Muswell Hill and Monkey Puzzle Finchley. Having opted to do the latter, she offers her insights on why it’s increasingly advantageous to choose a franchise for your next business venture. And, in Paula’s case, how she overcame the personal and professional setback of developing Bell’s palsy during pregnancy through the freedom found in franchising.

Paula Murphy and her nursery team, running two successful franchise businesses

“Not many people know that Bell’s palsy is a common side effect of pregnancy, I did, but it was still a shock. I’d always been prepared to resume my previous career, but the diagnosis changed my plans. I had been a qualified occupational psychologist and even owned my own training company. However, given my circumstances at the time, I retrained as a childminder so that I could spend time at home with my daughter and earn an income simultaneously. Through hard work and ever-increasing demand, I grew my childminding business to a level where the next logical step was to open a nursery. This is when I decided to invest in franchising.”

Despite Paula’s confidence in her business abilities, she recognised that starting her own independent nursery could have been an uphill battle. “I knew I didn’t have the background in early years education so securing the finances and getting all the required paperwork and permits was going to be tough. I was familiar with franchising from my previous career, and I wanted to explore the opportunities that were available to me. That’s when I found out about Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries.”

Paula’s decision to invest in her Monkey Puzzle franchise felt like a no-brainer – like so many new franchisees, she felt reassured by the quality of the model and the support available. But investing in a franchise, rather than going it alone, provides many more benefits.

Consumer trust

First and foremost, investing in a franchise means inheriting a brand’s reputation. Collaborating with a trusted company that already holds a place in consumer’s hearts and minds can jumpstart the business from day one. “I knew Monkey Puzzle was a serious brand just from my research – they’ve been operating for 20 years and have over 70 locations. If I’d have started on my own, I would’ve had to have built up the brand from scratch and wouldn’t have fostered the level of trust parents already had in Monkey Puzzle.”

Financial groundwork

From a financial standpoint, starting a nursery comes with significant upfront costs, both for an independent and through franchising. Securing a location, to then building a presence through marketing, are costs people need to factor into their budgets.

The benefit of a quality franchisor is the ability for franchisees to tap into the collective purchasing power of the entire network, resulting in significant savings on equipment and supplies. Monkey Puzzle also offers access to in-house property experts for any franchisees needing extra support. And in terms of the funding, most high street lenders will offer a percentage of the investment when purchasing a reputable and proven model; up to 70% in the case of Monkey Puzzle.

“I didn’t have the finances to open a new nursery. Franchising gave me the opportunity to access a payment structure I could afford and from there I could go about growing the business.”

Operational support

From hiring and training staff, marketing assistance and operational guidance, franchisees are never left to navigate the challenges of business ownership alone – operational support is available on a relatively unlimited basis. “Especially at the beginning it can be quite overwhelming, so knowing that support is readily available is incredibly helpful.”

A second chance at a new career

For Paula, the biggest benefit of franchising was in her journey to overcome personal struggles and achieve her goals as a busy working mum. “Bell’s palsy really affected me back then and is still something I deal with today, but I was very self-conscious at the start and couldn’t enjoy the experiences a new mum should have.”

Franchising provided her with the opportunity to embark on a new career in early years education and she has since become a multi-unit franchisee for Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries.

“I was at a career crossroads and franchising set me on the path to success. I don’t think I would be in this position if I’d started my own nursery. Falling back on the support and systems provided by Monkey Puzzle has meant my work-life balance is so much better.  I can fit work around my kids’ lives, and we can spend so much more time together as a family.”

Franchising can be beneficial for budding entrepreneurs from all walks of life, regardless of circumstance. Franchising empowers people to reach their full potential, allowing people, like Paula, to flourish.