While going with a franchise can minimize your risk, it doesn't guarantee a return on your investment.
Some very well-known franchises have a history of franchise failures, including McDonald's as well as Shoney's restaraunts.
More recently, the company that owned the Bennigan's and Steak and Ale restaurants failed, leaving several franchise owners with no parent company. If they weren't profitable as a franchise before the failure, they now have to attempt to survive on their own, competing against all those national chains with the big marketing budgets.
You can get into a franchise for far less than $100K, but that's just the franchise fee. You'll still have to invest more (with a set minimum prescribed by the franchise corporate office, for location, equipment, inventory, vehicles, etc. By the time you get the doors open, it can require a half-million or more in capital and/or loans, with more required before you can hope to see positive cash flow.
Back to McD's. They recommend having enough capital/borrowed money to make it the first two years without receiving the first dollar out of the franchise, as you work to reach your break even point. That's if you manage the restaurant yourself. Hire a manager, and the break even point is even further off in the future.
So, if investing a quarter-million dollars or more in a franchise still offers risk, why not do further research and consider going on your own. At least you won't have to start out several hundred thousand in the hole, with a long road to receiving a solid return on your investment.
There are many other business options beside franchises that can offer a lower entry cost, although with slightly higher risks, especially if you stay away from food service.
You might look into business-to-business services, as opposed to retail. While your target market is far smaller than retail, the will likely be far fewer competitors for the existing business. The volume of business per transaction can also be much greater in the B2B world.
I've been selling promotional advertising for 26 years. It's the least known of all the marketing media - much smaller than newspaper, radio/TV, or magazine, and lesser known that billboards, but is still a $20 Billion industry.
While it won't make you a household name, it can still provide an excellent career and income source. WHile it doesn't require the licensing of real estate or insurance, you'll still need to study up and learn about the industry before opening your business, it doesn't take near as long or require much capital to start.
But compared to the present market for real estate, it can be a much wiser option for both immediate and long-term returns on your investment.
I especially appreciate that I can operate my business from home, with no retail location or showroom, ZERO employees, and no inventory.
Good luck with your search and by all means, do all the 'due diligence' and investigation you can before you invest any serious capital into whatever business you pursue.