For those thinking about starting their own business, a visit to The National Franchise Exhibition on Friday 5 & Saturday 6 October at Birmingham’s NEC will play a valuable role in helping them to investigate franchising as a potential route

At a time when going it alone can be even more challenging than ever, franchising offers the freedom of being a business owner, coupled with the support of an established brand and fellow franchise owners.

It’s not surprising that franchising is expanding even in the current economic climate, so there are now more than half a million employed in franchising in the UK and over 40,000 outlets, according to the latest NatWest/British Franchise Exhibition (bfa) Survey 2012.

Aspiring entrepreneurs who want to find out more about opportunities in this growing industry will find all the advice and information they need, as well as hundreds of business ideas, at The National Franchise Exhibition on 5 & 6 October at The NEC, Birmingham.

The UK’s largest franchise event has more 120 businesses offering a variety of career opportunities to suit every budget and lifestyle. Exhibitors range across industries such as food and drink, finance, retail, property, care, travel and more. These include brands such as McDonald’s, Banana Moon Day Nursery, Muffin Break, Cash Converters. Lawn Keeper, Mac Tools and Home Sale Bureau. Visitors can meet with franchisors to find out what is on offer, and hear from existing franchisees to gain an insider’s account of running a franchise.

Visitors can also have confidence in all the franchise businesses showcased at The National Franchise Exhibition, as it is exclusively supported by the bfa and only features companies that meet the Association’s code of ethics.

As well as meeting franchise businesses, visitors can also receive guidance and support from experts including banks such as HSBC and NatWest, accountants, solicitors and franchising experts. Valuable advice will be on offer at the exclusive free conference which has a packed programme of seminars by the bfa on key franchise-related topics as well as talks on high-level investment franchising, hands-on franchising, executives in franchising, growing your own business and franchising your business. The Franchisee Panel gives visitors the chance to directly ask franchise owners about the realities of changing from employee to operating a franchise business.

Other features at the event are the Franchise Starting Point which offers free one to one advice from industry insiders and the Business Plan Clinic, facilitated by Franchise Finance, which helps budding franchisees get to grips with the all-important business plan; the key document in a franchisee’s application for a business loan.

Visitors with families will be well catered for with a free Children’s Activity Centre hosted by award-winning franchise The Creation Station.

Adrian Goodsell, Franchise Exhibitions Manager at Venture Marketing Group, organisers of The National Franchise Exhibition, comments: “A visit to the show is the perfect introduction to the world of franchising, showcasing the wide range of business available and putting visitors in contact with experts who can help them progress their career in the franchise industry.”

The exhibition is open from 10am each day, closing at 5pm on Friday and 4pm on Saturday. To register for The National Franchise Exhibition in Birmingham, call +44 (0)844 257 8668 visit . Callers can purchase tickets by credit card for £10 each or £8 each for two or more. Admission on the door is £15.

Visitors can, however gain FREE admission by using the promotional code NFEDD when they register on the website .