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This story appears in the October 2006 issue of . Subscribe »

The following listings detail the basic startup information of 1,121 franchises and nonfranchise business opportunities. Use this information as a first step if you're considering investing in a franchise or business opportunity.

This directory is not intended to endorse, advertise or recommend any particular company. All information was obtained from the companies themselves and has not been verified for accuracy. We simply present this information as a service to our readers.

We strongly recommend that you perform a thorough investigation and analysis of any franchise or business opportunity you are considering investing in before signing any papers or putting up any money. A good first move is to contact the Better Business Bureau. Also, ask the company you are interested in for the names and contact information of franchisees, licensees or dealers who are already in business with them. But the message bears repeating: Never invest before investigating. And always proceed with caution.

For more information on buying a franchise or business opportunity, visit Entrepreneur's FranchiseZoneand Entrepreneur's BizOpp Zone.

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It Started As a Joke and Turned Into a Startup That Raised $1 Million in Funding