From the October 2003 issue of Startups

"In my last three positions, I worked for entrepreneurs. Finally, after about 10 years, I decided I wanted to be one myself," says Lisa Snyder. So Snyder, 43, started looking for an opportunity that combined two of her passions: children and the theater.

She found her ideal match with Drama Kids International, a franchise that teaches theater classes to school-age children.

Not only did Drama Kids International fit Snyder's interests, the franchise also filled a need she saw in her Sarasota, Florida, community. "They've cut a lot of the arts from the schools, and the children really need the arts to express themselves, their emotions," Snyder says. "This was a way to continue to offer that to the children in the community--a way to still have drama classes."

Last school year, Snyder's franchise, which opened in August 2002, offered 14 different drama classes at schools, community centers and park and recreation centers. She has two teachers on staff handling separate classes for kids 5 to 8, 9 to 12 and 13 to 17.

Snyder herself doesn't teach classes, however. She spends her time handling marketing and administrative duties in her home office. "In the mornings, I return calls because my phone rings a lot, thankfully," she says. "I spend a lot of time talking about the program to parents, doing enrollments over the phone. People are always calling to ask about the program." When she's not on the phone, Snyder is creating handouts and newsletters for current students, and brochures and enrollment forms for new students. She also attends meetings with school principals and other officials to find new venues for her classes.

The highlight of this business for Snyder, though, is the time she spends visiting Drama Kids International classes. "I know all the children by name. They come up and give me hugs," she says. "It's very rewarding to get to know these kids, and I will always try as much as possible to stay in touch with them."