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This story appears in the September 2008 issue of Start Up. Subscribe »

Portable Profits
By Emily Weisburg

For one entrepreneur, staying mobile means always being where the action is.

It wasn't long after Michael Anderson finished college and took a job in finance before he decided he'd rather work for himself and turned to franchising. "Being a kid right out of college, I really didn't have any resources," says Anderson, now 27. Many franchisors turned him down for being too young and not having enough startup capital. But Anderson's luck turned around when he secured a small personal loan and a meeting with the CEO of Maui Wowi, and persuaded this franchisor to give him a chance.

In early 2004, Anderson signed a franchise contract. Within one to two months, he was selling Maui Wowi smoothies and Hawaiian coffee in and around Burbank, California. He opted for the Maui Wowi event model, using a mobile kiosk. "It's a much quicker way to get started and generate some cash flow," Anderson explains. "I really liked the idea of the low overhead and getting my feet wet before I took on something larger."

The life of selling at street fairs and festivals proved challenging: Anderson found he had to be quick-thinking and competitive to succeed. "If you're not doing well on the first day, you have to figure out what to do different and make it happen overnight," he says of succeeding at street fairs. "You love them and you hate them, because [these fairs] are truly capitalism at its finest. Everybody shows up, and it's about who can grab those customers the best."

Anderson built good relationships and persevered, which allowed him to move from working street fairs and festivals to having contracts with convention centers, sports arenas and concert venues.

Within his first year of business, he took over another Maui Wowi franchise and now has three mobile carts, with plans in the works for even more carts in more venues. Anderson's revenue doubled every year for his first four years in business, and he earned six-figure sales in 2007.

Health At Home

By Tracy Stapp

Franchising helps a nurse help others.

Navy nurse Shonda Washington, 38, began thinking about owning a home health-care business when she visited homebound members of her church. She enjoyed using her skills to help others but knew she alone couldn't help everyone. So in 2006, she opened an Accessible Home Health Care franchise in Suffolk, Virginia, offering in-home medical and companionship services.

Lt. Cmdr. Washington is a full-time nurse in the Navy and uses whatever time off she gets to run the franchise. It helps that she sees it less as a business and more as a ministry--to the patients and to her staff. "I won't hire everybody," she says. "One of the requirements of this job is that you actually like what you do." Many of the 40-plus aides she has hired are single mothers, whom she seeks to empower by offering higher-than-average pay and money-management tips.

Washington chose Accessible Home Health Care because she was impressed by the franchise's training and support, particularly when it offered to send someone from the corporate office to supervise her franchise if she was called away for duty. The franchise system, she says, "mimicked a lot of what we do in the military. We train our people because we know they're going to be able to go out and be successful."

And Washington certainly has succeeded--she expects her 2008 sales to hit almost $900,000.


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