For most married couples who start businesses together, seeing each other too much can be a problem. For Laura and Jonathan Crawford, however, seeing each other at all was the dilemma.
In 1997, a year after getting married, the newlyweds, both 31, opened their first CD Warehouse franchise, which sells new and used CDs, in Mobile, Alabama. Laura, a former bookkeeper for a high school, initially started the venture because she wanted to take her career in a different direction. After financing most of the $120,000 in start-up costs with personal savings and the sale of a home, Laura moved to Daphne, Alabama, to live near the business, while Jonathan continued his high school teaching career back in Selma, some 150 miles away.
"He really sacrificed," Laura recalls. "He would take off from work on Thursday night and drive down to help me at the store. Then he'd get up at 4 a.m. on Monday morning to get back to his job."
When the Mobile store succeeded beyond the couple's expectations, the Crawfords opened another location, in Daphne, in September of last year. Jonathan quit his teaching job and moved to Daphne to run the new store, while Laura continues to run the Mobile location.
Despite the distance, Laura says, they both appreciate the rewards of entrepreneurship. "It's been a real growing experience for the two of us," she says. "We learned how to work together and be apart at the same time. And I love being able to put the work into [my own business] and see the results for myself." And since they hit total sales of $400,000 last year, the Crawfords plan to open a third location in Pensacola, Florida. (No word yet on who will run that one.)
CD Warehouse Inc. has 275 franchised locations and is seeking franchisees nationwide. Total start-up costs range from $123,300 to $150,300.