Franchise Buying Guide

The Choice Is Yours

Independent Start-Ups
Presented by Guidant Financial
Guidant Financial specializes in helping entrepreneurs purchase new franchises using their retirement funds.

San Francisco-based business consultant Paul Terry says that the people he helps to start their own businesses are intent on doing things their own way, and believe it is less expensive to start from scratch than to buy a franchise. They also head into an area of business they have experience in or strong feelings about, and look at their business as a personal challenge.

Terry describes new entrepreneurs as people who "tend to have a passion because they're doing something they really like, and they tend to have a background in that particular area because it's a hobby, or it's an idea they've originated. So they tend to start their own business. People who choose a franchise feel that they are buying an existing turnkey process which has less risk, so this is an attraction to them."

Two years ago, Denise Martineau started tricom systems, an Oakland, California-based computer-consulting and technology-planning company, in order to pursue a type of business that captured her interest. A scientist by training, with an undergraduate degree in chemistry and graduate work completed in chemical physics, Martineau began her business with no formal business background.

"It's much better than any job I've ever had, in terms of fun and in terms of money," says Martineau, who started her business without really looking at options like franchising or business opportunities, and basically learned about business on her own, through trial and error.

"The biggest asset for me is having control--over my environment and over my work," Martineau says. "I've found being in business for myself to be very rewarding. You have to be self-disciplined, and you can't be afraid of--or in need of--authority figures. It's the work itself that makes you work--you don't need some kind of outside force that makes you work.

"There's a certain amount of self-understanding that you have to have; you have to understand what motivates you, and you have to understand what it is about being a start-up that engages you," Martineau explains. "Some people are engaged by the idea of making a lot of money. I'm engaged by the idea of creating an environment where I can pursue my own interests."

During the start-up phase, Martineau turned to San Francisco Renaissance, a business incubator and educational center for entrepreneurs. She found their training extremely helpful in providing her with a framework for launching her enterprise. She also suggests MBA programs with entrepreneurship training classes, independent business associations or groups, books, periodicals, and accommodating professionals as good resources for people seeking to start their own business.

"I'm having a good time, I'm making more money than I've ever made before, and I've reached a new level of prosperity," Martineau says. "I really like the idea that I am creating jobs for people, and not just minimum-wage jobs. I feel like I'm pumping a lot of money into the economy, and that really adds to my enjoyment."

In the end, getting into business --in any format--requires a lot of honest self-reflection and self-assessment. Making the decision between a franchise, a business opportunity or an independent start-up remains a matter of personal choice and comfort. Weigh the pros and cons of each choice before making your final decision.

The Independent Start-Up Pros:

*There are no strict company guidelines that must be followed. You have the freedom to make your own rules.

  • There is a greater opportunity to build equity.

  • There are no predetermined start-up charges, continuing fees or royalties to be paid.


  • Independent start-ups statistically have a lower rate of success than franchises or business opportunities.

  • There is no main office or corporate headquarters to call for advice or support.

  • It will be necessary to secure your own financing.


  • National Federation of Independent Business

53 Century Blvd., #300

Nashville, TN 37214

(615) 872-5800

  • Local business incubators

  • Small Business Development Centers

Contact Sources

Andrew A. Caffey, 3 Bethesda Metro Center, #700, Bethesda, MD 20814,

Budget Blinds, 2265 Rose Walk Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30202, (770) 887-9309.

International Franchise Association, 1350 New York Ave. N.W., #900, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 628-8000.

Paul Terry, 185 Arkansas St., San Francisco, CA 94107.

Venture Association of New Jersey, P.O. Box 1982, Morristown, NJ 07962-1982, (201) 267-4200, ext. 123.

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Choice Is Yours.

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