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I Did It My Way

Opening a tech support franchise gave Chris Long the freedom to be himself.

When 6-foot-3-inch former powerlifter Chris Long pulls up to an office in his bright red semi, few people believe he's a tech guy. But that doesn't bother Long. After all, part of why he bought a Computer Trouble-shooters franchise was to have the freedom to be himself. "I was really tired of the corporate world and needed to get out and do things my way," he says.

Long, 48, appreciated that Computer Troubleshooters allows franchisees to choose which computer services to offer and which customers to pursue. He focuses on helping small-business owners in his North Phoenix, Arizona, territory, since his corporate background has given him an understanding of businesses' needs. Having the freedom to run the business his way doesn't mean he's on his own, though. Computer Troubleshooters provided business training before he opened, and they continue to offer advice and assistance whenever he needs it.

Flexibility and support weren't Long's only considerations when choosing a franchise. He also liked Computer Troubleshooters' low startup costs. He was able to pay for the franchise fee, advertising and initial inventory all for under $20,000, and within five months of opening in 2005, he was breaking even. He started out running the business from home--and he still does today, though he's moved it from his bedroom to a newly built, fully equipped, 1,800-square-foot garage. He hopes to reach sales of $500,000 this year.

Escaping the corporate world did cost more than just money, though. Long worked up to 15 hours a day to get the business off the ground. But now that he's more established and has two employees--one of them his son--he's able to spend more time than he ever could on his other loves, which include cross-country motorcycling. So it's no surprise that he says, "I would do this over again in a heartbeat."

Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.

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This article was originally published in the May 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: I Did It My Way.

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