Catch The Wave

Grab your boards! Surf reports show the Internet is where the profits are breaking. These franchise companies can help you get a toehold for the big swells to come.

The explosive growth of the Internet over the past few years has opened a new and exciting frontier for ambitious, net-savvy entrepreneurs.

The ever-increasing demand for Internet-related services such as search engines and e-commerce has turned once-small businesses like Yahoo!, Amazon.com and Excite into household names, prompting a feeding frenzy of their stock offerings on Wall Street and making their founders unbelievably wealthy.

With the advent of safe, reliable encryption processes that protect retail transactions, the Internet has become a global marketplace where businesses can sell their wares to customers worldwide without the high overhead of a physical location. As the number of Internet users increases, so will the numbers of visitors to e-commerce sites: IT research firm International Data Corp. predicted in 1998 that U.S. consumers will spend $54 billion per year on e-commerce purchases by 2002. According to the Gartner Group, the global e-commerce industry will generate more than $1 trillion in the same time period.

Many entrepreneurs aren't waiting for 2002 to get their piece of the e-commerce pie. A recent study by E-valuations research, an online market research firm, found that nearly 65 percent of small businesses are planning to develop transaction-enabled Web sites.

But while businesses are eager to take advantage of the vast opportunities the Internet presents, many are intimidated by the complexity of this new, virtual world. That's where Internet franchises come in. The relentless expansion of the Internet and the growing number of franchise opportunities could put owning a successful, high-tech business well within your economic reach--even if your name isn't Bill Gates.

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