Ask Entrepreneur

What is the outlook for the commercial cleaning industry in 2010?

Is opening a cleaning business now a wise investment?
Jeff Elgin

What are the pros and cons of buying a franchise?

I'm seriously considering purchasing a franchise, but I want to be sure to weight all my options.
Jeff Elgin

How do I know whether my passion will make a good business?

How can I start my own bicycle repair shop? Will it be a good idea to specialize in repair rather than retail and repair? Is it a good idea to open next to an existing bicycle shop that sells and repairs bikes?
Michael Kaleikini

Is it illegal for a franchisor to offer first right of refusal?

Or can a franchisor offer a surrounding territory to an existing franchisee at a discount?
Jeff Elgin

What's the norm for franchise royalty/residual payment percentages?

I'm thinking about buying a franchise location, but want to be sure the costs are appropriate.
Jeff Elgin

How can I switch to the non-profit sector?

I have a business that I'm no longer interested in running and wish to start a non-profit business. What will be the cost and how do I go about starting it up? I will incorporate in the near future.
Brad Sugars

What do you think about multi-level marketing business opportunities?

Are there some legitimate options? Are MLMs recession proof?
Brad Sugars

How can I motivate my managers and help them focus?

I was hired by a small franchise to help a failing store. The one problem is that you can clearly see that the managers are the reason for the failure. How can I motivate them to help me fix the problems?
Elinor Robin

Do we pay our franchise fee before or after we close on our loan?

Our franchisee fee is $25k and is due to the franchisor once we sign up. My husband is under the impression that we pay that fee prior to closing on our business loan. But, we need to put 20 percent down to receive the business loan--if we pay out $25k to the franchisor prior to putting the 20 percent down for the loan, we will not have sufficient funds to put down for the loan.
Jeff Elgin

How should I start to franchise my business idea?

I have this great idea for a restaurant that I'd like to start and franchise. I have experience working in a restaurant but not running a business or starting a franchise so I'd need some help. Where should I start?
Jeff Elgin

Is there a way to determine the profitability of various franchises?

I'm trying to evaluate various franchise opportunities. However, obtaining information about profitability and how soon a franchise becomes profitable seems to always involve the tedious process of filling out an application and a questionnaire, waiting for the franchisor to do a credit/asset check and going through everything else they require to determine if you are "worthy" of doing business with them.
Jeff Elgin

How can I start a non-profit food bank in my neighborhood?

I live in a mixed-income area that has no major supermarket. The population in this area is mainly made up of African-American families with children, some Hispanic families with children, and a moderate elderly population. The nearest supermarket is a few miles across town, and since some of the residents in this areas rely on public transportation, it's harder for them to get to the store. I want to open a food bank where the residents can obtain free food on a weekly basis. This will also help residents who don't qualify for food stamps, who lost their benefits, and those who live on a fixed income. Also, can I start this as a home-based operation?
Brad Sugars

What ancillary services can a computer programmer offer?

We have a small computer programming and analyst company - but business is slow. What other types of services can we offer with our current setup -- office, phones, secretary?
Steve Adams

Is a recession the right time to start a business?

I have nearly 10 years of experience and would like to start off on my own. Can you advise me if this is the right time to start your own company, taking the economic situation into consideration.
Greg Digneo

Are franchise fees negotiable?

Can you find a franchise agent similar to a real estate agent to assist in finding a successful opportunity?
Jeff Elgin