Ask Entrepreneur - Franchises

Legally, what do I need to do in order to start a clothing company and protect our designs?

Me and some of my friends have want to start selling some shirts and hoodies locally to see if people are interested in our product. What do I need to do in order to make our idea an official business/company? How do we make sure people don’t steal our designs and sell them for their own? What do I need to know in order to sell our products legally?
Nina Kaufman

What is the best area of study for entrepreneurs?

I recently completed an undergraduate degree in finance and am looking to further my education. While I know an MBA is commonly the next step, I can't help but feel a JD might be more useful in starting a business. Is the JD route unheard of?
Tim Berry

What needs to be in place for a bank to produce a letter of credit on my behalf?

I am setting up to source commodities on behalf of clients. Currently employed in an unrelated industry, I'm entering this market due to demand from contacts. As there are huge volumes involved, the transaction are likely to involve huge sums. I am hoping to remain a go-between and charge a commission for deals I help set up. Letters of credit will be required via a bank. What needs to be in place for a bank to agree to produce a letter of credit my behalf? Also, what can I do contractually to prevent the buyer and supplier from cutting me out of the deal?
Nina Kaufman

How do I know if my idea for a business is a good one?

I don't know how to judge whether my idea for a great new business/service is one that will have a good audience and be a success. I have never seen this business, so I feel that it would be a good idea, but then again, I wonder why it doesn't already exist.
Tim Berry

What gives an automotive franchise a low ranking or a high ranking?

I've been talking to a franchisor, and I like the model: It's relatively low-cost to start, and it's diverse. It would also allow me to add my own flavor into the business. But as I research automotive franchises, I see lots of things about rivals such as Jiffy Lube, Midas, etc., and these are among the high-ranking franchises. My question is why All Tune and Lube has a low ranking among automotive franchises?
Jeff Elgin

How do I find a franchise interested in leasing our building?

We would prefer the tenants to be in the food industry. The space is in an ideal location with plenty of parking, adjacent to a well established local pub. There is plenty of seating, with a separate storefront and full kitchen.

Aside from newspaper advertising, how do we let food franchises know that we are here?
Jeff Elgin

Where would I find someone interested in investing in my business?

I have an awesome idea and need someone who's willing to invest in my hydroponic watercress business plan. I have the land and the water source, and the perfect location in Northland, New Zealand.
Tim Berry

How do I sell an idea for a product?

I have a great idea for a product to help parents with potty training toddlers. Do I approach a company that would manufacture the product to see if they would want to buy the idea, or do I come up with a prototype, trademark it and then try to sell it? I would prefer to just sell the idea. I have asked many parents of toddlers if they would buy the product and all agreed that not only would they buy it, but would pay a lot for it.
Tim Berry

Should I become a partner or a subcontractor in a new business venture?

I am starting a new business venture with a friend. He already has an established business in advertising and is doing OK. He would like me to start a new division of his company teaching computer-based instructional lessons. I will do all of the work, including researching and structuring all the classes, teaching them and even advertising for clients. Should I become a partner in this subdivision of the business, or a subcontractor? If I build this from the ground up and it really takes off, I want to make sure I benefit from our success. How should I structure this deal so that I get the most out of the venture, make it appealing to my new partner and protect myself?
Brad Sugars

Do franchisees have legal obligations to pay royalties to franchisors on loss-making product introduced by the franchisor?

Specifically: We have a franchised restaurant that sells merchandise (7 percent royalty)and beverage and food (3 percent royalty). Merchandise and beverage are both profitable but substantial losses occur on food due to franchisor's restrictive pricing structure and forced use of overly large portions.
Jeff Elgin

I own a restaurant and I'm planning to sell my desserts in mini markets and grocery stores. Do I need another type of permit or license besides what I have now?

I have a Mexican restaurant and the desserts are my own recipe, so I think we can sell them in different markets and grocery stores. But I don't know whether my current permits are enough to sell retail.
Nina Kaufman

Should I sell my fledgling, struggling franchise territory, hire someone to run it or shut my doors?

I'm seeking a true entrepreneur to run the day-to-day operations of my Abrakadoodle franchise territory. I'm a busy mommy of three.
Jeff Elgin

Is it good to go with a startup franchisor with good potential or with an established one?

I want to get into a child-care franchise business and am debating whether I should go with a franchisor such as Growing Room, which has three centers, and a CEO who was named 2004 National Small Business Person of the Year. It doesn't have name recognition and doesn't provide year-round training, but the fees are minimal! Versus a franchisor like Kiddie Academy, whose fees are huge, but it is a national franchisor with a good reputation, has a brand name and a good training program.
Jeff Elgin