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Pop The Questions

35 Smart things to ask before you buy a franchise.

Franchising is big business, and there are thousands of different franchises from which to choose. "Franchising is responsible for 40 percent of all retail sales in the United States," says Mark Siebert, president of Francorp Inc., an Olympia Fields, Illinois-based franchise management consulting firm.

In recent years, there has also been a proliferation of low-investment franchises that appeal to entrepreneurs who are either on a tight budget or are trying to minimize their risk. These types of franchises usually require start-up investments of anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 and include opportunities from auto check-up services and direct-mail advertising to house-sitting services and video photography.

In fact, the most difficult part of buying a franchise may be selecting one. Once you've done some research, it's a fairly simple task to analyze a franchise and make a decision. But selecting one that will be of interest to you and meet all your criteria is a difficult task.

First of all, you need to recognize your strengths and weaknesses from both a personal and professional standpoint so you can determine what type of business you want to own and operate.

After you've listed all your goals and objectives, your next order of business is to investigate your options. What types of franchises are on the market that will enable you to fulfill those objectives? Which franchise concepts and categories are currently growing at a healthy rate?

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Pop The Questions.

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