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When Kathy Williams gave up her import/export business to spend more time with her children, she let go of eight years of "blood, sweat and tears" that starting her own business had required. But within 10 years, Williams missed the freedom of running a business and went in search of a new opportunity. "That entrepreneur thing comes back into your blood," she says.
For her second time around, Williams, 41, wanted stability and a systematic approach to getting started, so she decided to open a franchise. After researching several options, she chose V2K, The Virtual Window Fashion Store. She was attracted to V2K's software, which allows her to show potential customers how various types of window treatments, such as draperies or blinds, will look in their homes based on the dimensions of their windows and rooms. With the software, she can also price the treatments and even process an order without leaving the customer's home.
An initial investment of $29,900 put Williams on her feet with a laptop, the software and two weeks of training, which addressed everything from measuring windows to operating the software. The training also covered marketing tactics such as door hangers, mailing lists, and partnerships with local businesses.
Williams' creativity, eye for home décor and interest in marketing helped her reach $60,000 in sales within the first six months. But her entrepreneurial spirit and personal motivation add the final touches, as she projects her 2004 sales to be roughly $300,000. "In this type of business, you have to keep motivating yourself and keep excited," she says.