DALLAS -- The days of staying with a company and getting a gold watch upon retirement are becoming more and more rare as Americans look for different ways to make a living.

Owning your own business has long been considered the “American Dream,” and investing in franchise ownership is becoming a popular means for those looking to diversify their income stream.

“People are getting burned out and are less committed to corporate America,” said Sara Waskow, an owner of franchise consulting firm FranNet. “They are looking for other opportunities to leave corporate or be ready if that happens unexpectedly.”

That escape from the corporate world is happening at younger ages and in a variety of fields and industries, according to Waskow.

Jim Brady and his family bought an Erbert and Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop franchise in Denton last year after years of working in medical sales. The ins and outs of restaurant ownership were completely foreign to them.

“I had zero experience in food service. I was never a waiter. We had to learn everything from scratch,” Brady said.

After researching different ownership possibilities, sandwich-making seemed to fit their lifestyle and presented them the opportunity to own their own business and be their own bosses.

But that does not mean they don't have to work.

“You cannot be an absentee owner. That will not work. It is not a 9-5 job anymore," he said.

Even when he's not at the restaurant, Brady said keeping up with the store’s social media account, schedules, and various reports means he is always on the clock. And depending on the needs of his business on any given day, he might be the one making sandwiches for customers or even delivering them.

Waskow said the idea of owning your own business to be “mailbox money” is one of the biggest misconceptions of franchise ownership.

“Do not be surprised if you have to be in there cleaning toilets one day,” she said.

But franchising also is an easy way to be a business owner without having to produce your own concept or blueprint from the ground up. Brady said the company helped provide support and guidance about financing, operations, and other finer points of starting a business.

Still, he knew he was taking a risk.

“You cannot be afraid to fail. The best thing you can do is bet on yourself. You know what you can do better than anyone else,” he said.

Indeed, Waskow said the biggest obstacle she has seen keeping prospective owners from taking the plunge is their own fear.

The financial requirements to get started can be daunting, but are also a common misconception.

“Funding is more available for franchising,” said Waskow.

One need not be a millionaire. Depending on the franchise, fees for ownership can start on the low end between $50K and $100K, and stretch to more than $500K.

But Waskow said owners can help finance by utilizing small business loans, home equity line of credit, and retirement funds with no taxes or penalties.