Buying a franchise can be a rewarding alternative to starting a new business from scratch. Instead of going it alone as an entrepreneur or small business owner, you can benefit from an established brand, a proven business model, the franchisor's experience, and support from other franchise owners. However, while there are good reasons to buy a franchise there are also good reasons not to. It may involve a hefty initial investment as well as ongoing royalty fees and although it may be less risky than starting your own business, there are still risks involved. Here, franchising expert Eric Bell shares the most important things to consider before taking the plunge.