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When the Little Guy Goes Big

Turning a small business into a franchise can look like a good idea in this economy. Here's how to figure out if it actually is.

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This story appears in the December 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Like a lot of small-business owners today, Nathan Smith was nervous. For 18 years, he'd built Sure Signs, his Idaho Falls, Idaho, sign shop, and he was sick of running hard for 60 hours a week. Instead of putting his energy into building new business--critical in this economy--he was drained by being the only person who could solve day-to-day problems. And one worry loomed over all the rest:

"If anything happened to me," says Smith, who is 43, "my wife would have had a nightmare taking over the business."

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