Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email ktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

Mark Calis began working at Minuteman Press at age 14, when his parents bought the franchise 28 years ago. Two years ago, Calis's father unexpectedly passed away and he took over as co-owner with his mother. Being a business owner is a very different role for Calis than being an employee, but it's one he's been preparing for almost his entire life. Here's his advice for potential franchisees.

Name: Mark Calis

Franchise owned (location):  Minuteman Press on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C.

How long have you owned a franchise?

28 years

Why franchising?

When my father decided to open his own business he knew he did not want to start from scratch. He wanted a business that already had a solid structure and a strong support system that can be used to help with growth and continue to help in many ways throughout the years. Minuteman Press International provided him with all of his requirements.

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What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Before my father became a franchise owner he was a cargo airline pilot. I was raised in this business and started working for my parents when I was 14 years old. I took over ownership of the company when my father unexpectedly passed away two years ago.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

Minuteman Press seemed to have the best experience in the printing franchise. They have a strong support structure and a detailed training program. In addition, they have local corporate offices to help support the franchises.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

Roughly $100,000

Equipment: $60,000

License: $20,000

Build out: $20,000

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

A lot of research was done for years before going into this business. My family attended franchise shows, business seminars and even took classes at a community college. As a family, we did quite a bit of research to make sure this decision was a sound one.

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

It may be true that you are your own boss, you set your own hours and you can do what you want to do but that doesn’t mean those are always positive things. You will work twice as hard as you ever have before, and twice as many hours.

However, it is rewarding to see the rewards of all the hard work. The first two years are usually challenging for a new business. These challenges were not necessarily unexpected but underestimated. For me, the challenges are worth the rewards.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

I would advice individuals who want to own their own franchise to do their homework. Research the franchise, make sure it has a great support structure, talk to current franchise owners, visit existing stores, and make sure to be very diligent in doing the homework. That way you know exactly what you will be getting yourself into. Also, I recommend a gut check. Not everyone is made to run their own business.

What’s next for you and your business?

We are constantly evaluating out business and what direction we should be going. Over the years, we have grown to be more than just a printing and design business. Minuteman Press also handles a fair amount of mailing, tons of wide format (posters and signs) and has recently expanded into being a marketing provider for small, medium and large corporations.

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