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When Eric Kurjan entered the business world, he had no intention of opening a franchise. Following a lengthy career in accounting software publishing, Kurjan moved to Microsoft in 2001 as a general manager in charge of 500 employees. Three years later, he left to start Plumbline Solutions, a software consulting company, but his career path didn't end there.
When John Crawford, a former colleague, opened a Six Disciplines Leadership Center franchise in Findlay, Ohio, Kurjan felt inspired. So when Crawford became ill, Kurjan stepped in. "I saw this as an opportunity to really take everything I'd learned in my 20-plus years in business and put it to work for my clients," says Kurjan, 48.
Six Disciplines specializes in business consulting, helping companies execute their goals and improve their businesses. Since taking over Crawford's franchise in 2006, Kurjan has purchased four more locations. He currently works with 23 clients, has four full-time employees and receives ongoing support from the franchisor, including technical support, marketing tools and programs, and team member training and certification. After years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience, the transition to franchising was surprisingly easy for Kurjan, who was ready for a new challenge. "It wasn't that I was looking to go buy a McDonald's, where everything has been decided for me," he says. "I was looking for something I could build."
Kurjan is searching for partners for his four other franchise locations, people who are well-connected with each region. With 2008 projections of $1.1 million for his Findlay location, Kurjan has no regrets about his decision to start franchising: "There is nothing more rewarding than to be sitting across the desk from my CEO client, and he or she looks me in the eye and says, 'You have made a difference in our business.' That is the best paycheck of the day."