From the December 2001 issue of Startups

Former real estate agent Rick Hutchinson had been in the appraisal business for seven years when he saw an ad for Elliott & Co., a real estate appraisal franchise. Hutchinson wanted his own business, but he didn't want all the administrative and marketing responsibilities-and Elliott & Co. seemed to be a perfect fit. "The things they provide take some of that responsibility off me where I can do what I'm trained to do, which is appraise real estate," says Hutchinson, who started his Columbia, South Carolina, franchise in 1996.

Hutchinson appraises commercial and residential real estate for banks, mortgage brokers and other lenders. All employees, including Hutchinson, work from home. "Through different changes in technology over the last couple of years, the need to maintain an office kept getting less and less," Hutchinson explains. Everyone in Hutchinson's franchise keeps in touch via e-mail.

Hutchinson enjoys his work as an appraiser, which he feels suits his analytical skills more than his former job as a real estate agent did. He also likes the variety appraising offers. "No two days are the same," he says. "There's lots of flexibility, and you get involved in a lot of different things. It's certainly not a monotonous, boring business."