O'Neal is one of many Americans running a successful franchise. In 2017, the franchising industry accounted for approximately $426 billion, with an even brighter forecast for the year ahead. Today the NBA legend turned franchise mogul owns multiple Auntie Anne’s Pretzels locations, over 150 Five Guys Burgers & Fries locations, and most recently purchased a Krispy Kreme shop in Atlanta.

“It’s a great way to be connected to the community,” O'Neal tells Mediaplanet. “The Krispy Kreme franchise I bought in Atlanta is something that I take a lot of pride in. It is one of the top performing franchises in the area.” 

Back to school

“Find something that you’re passionate about. If I find a brand that I can have fun with and I know customers will feel excited to come to, I know it will be successful.”

Shaq has allocated a great deal of time to advancing his education. After receiving a Master of Business Administration degree in 2005, he returned to the university in 2012 and was awarded a doctorate degree in education. “Being in the Hall of Fame can only take you so far. At some point, you are going to be in the room and have to prove that you know what you’re talking about. My education has prepared me for those times.”

While the right franchising opportunity can be profitable for the right entrepreneur, O'Neal cautions that franchising isn’t for everyone. “It isn’t easy,” he urges. “You are certain to face several obstacles throughout the process, but if you are passionate about what you are doing and selling, it will make the rewards all the much better.”

Connecting with locals

When gauging a franchise’s potential success, O'Neal emphasizes the three L’s: location, location, location.

“The first challenge is finding a great location for the franchise,” he states. “Once I do that, it’s all about hiring the right team to run the day-to-day operations. It’s tough not being on location every day and seeing the response of the customers, but I have learned to really trust the staff. That’s really key, having a great team.”

To ensure success, O'Neal advises would-be franchisees to find pursue what inspires them.

“Find something that you’re passionate about. If I find a brand that I can have fun with and I know customers will feel excited to come to, I know it will be successful,” he laughs. “I mean, who doesn’t get excited about donuts?”