We are now in the age of the entrepreneur, and it has never been a better time to start a business.

Despite the lower barriers to entry and less capital required than ever before, there are still significant risks surrounding the prospect of working for oneself.

A franchise business has long provided one of the ways best ways for aspiring entrepreneurs to go into business for themselves and mitigate risks. Entering an established brand can certainly streamline the path to business ownership.

An Economic Impact of Franchised Businesses report released by the International Franchise Association indicated that franchised businesses generate 2.5% of the U.S. gross domestic product.

Additionally, these businesses account for $674 billion in economic output and 7.6 million jobs nationwide. Franchised businesses also support a staggering $1.6 trillion in economic output and a total of 13.2 million jobs.

Franchises businesses are often less risky and they often times have a built in client/customer base.

Franchises and former athletes have had a long history, simply because franchising allows those who may not be as business savvy to own a business and have support along the way.

Peyton Manning certainly is the poster child with his partnership with Papa John's Pizza. He owns 21 franchises in the Denver area.

Athletes certainly know what hard work is, and they know how to fit into a system to achieve success, and the franchise industry is a sensible one. Given the short duration of a typical professional athletic career, franchises have provided the opportunity for athletes to have a path after their sports careers are over.

Knowing that about 60% of NBA players go bankrupt five years after retiring and 78% of NFL players are in financial trouble two years after retiring led former NFL player Michael Stone to start the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative. The initiative's aim is to educate athletes about adjusting to a career after sports.

"Franchising has become one of the darlings of investing" said Tom Portesy, president and chief executive of MFV Expositions. "A lot of private-equity companies are buying franchises because they go to where they can get a big return, reduce risk and put themselves in a position to exit if they want to."

The same goes for small investors.

Franchises are highly scalable, from publicly traded franchiser organizations, to the single-family-owned store. Owning a franchise business is more affordable and has fewer barriers of entry than many realize.

MFV Expositions is set to run Franchise Expo West in Denver Thursday through Saturday.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.