Franchise Buying Guide

Corporate Climbers

What do you do when the next rung of the corporate ladder isn't enough motivation for you? These entrepreneurs transferred their climb to the world of franchising.
Presented by Guidant Financial
Guidant Financial specializes in helping entrepreneurs purchase new franchises using their retirement funds.

Fed up with being the VP of marketing? Done with your days as the director of technology? The upheaval in the economy has brought layoffs and uncertainty, devalued portfolios and a feeling that no matter how hard you work in the corporate world, you may not have as much control over your career as you'd like. And all these factors have led to one trend: an increase in professionals leaving their corporate digs to try their hand at franchising.

"Since the Internet bubble burst, we've seen a dramatic increase," says Jeff Elgin, founder and CEO of Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based FranChoice Inc., a company that provides free consulting to consumers looking for a franchise. "A lot of people have been downsized two or even three times over the past 12 years, and they're sick of it." So sick of it, in fact, that they're moving into franchising with the hope of controlling their own destiny and not being at the mercy of someone else's balance sheet.

Why franchising? Probably because the leap from corporate employee to entrepreneur can be terrifying. Execs who used to delegate tasks to marketing, advertising and accounting departments can suddenly face the prospect of taking care of everything themselves. Franchising's appeal is that it offers the incentive of business ownership and cushions the blow by providing the training, assistance and structure ex-execs are accustomed to.

It's a combination that makes sense. "With a franchise system, there are some boundaries, [because the franchisor] has learned from trial and error," says Elgin. "Why reinvent the wheel?"

If you're ready to learn, willing to get your hands dirty and aching to build a company with a successful track record, this may be your gig. Meet three ex-corporate execs who found the dream was theirs.

Ready to make that leap from corporate denizen to fearless franchisee? Here are some resources to help you:

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This article was originally published in the July 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Corporate Climbers.

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