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How I Bought My First Franchise With a Tax Refund


Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email


One thousand dollars from a tax refund was all Lisa Shaw needed to buy her first franchise license and become a Coffee News franchisee. While it has become more expensive to purchase a franchise license of the advertising publication in the last 15 years, Shaw's involvement in the franchise has only deepened. Today, she runs Coffee News franchises in and Tennessee. Here's what she has learned.


Image credit: Lisa Shaw

Name:  Lisa Shaw

Franchise owned: Coffee News in the states of Indiana and Tennessee

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How long have you owned a franchise?  

After attending a Coffee News International Conference in January of 2001, I couldn’t wait to get started! I purchased my franchise March 1, 2001.

Why ?  

A franchise has provided me not only the framework of an established , but also a family of other business owners with whom I can network and socialize

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner? 

From the time that I was old enough to have a job, and until I began my career as a Coffee News publisher, I have held several positions and careers in many different fields, including banking, real estate sales, investment services, golf, restaurant, , and wholesale sales!

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

The main reasons that I chose to own a Coffee News franchise are that it was so affordable, and that I could also work from home and be my own boss. I purchased my first licenses with a tax refund!

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

I initially purchased two licenses to publish. Back in 2001, a Coffee News license could be purchased for only $1,000! The only other expenses were display stands to place in the distribution locations, business cards, invoices and other miscellaneous items. I easily spent less than $5,000 before I opened for business. 

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Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?  

I sought business counseling from my local chapter of SCORE, and I also reached out to the Indiana Development Center. But the best support that I received was from other, more-established Coffee News franchisees

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?   

Cash flow was my biggest challenge. All my life I had always gone to work and collected a paycheck on a regular basis. I didn’t understand that, as a business owner, it was all up to me now. I began with no , so I waitressed part-time to help get my business up and running.  

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?   

Stay the course. It may get difficult at times, but always keep in mind the reasons that motivated you to own your own business. Work your way through the tough times. 

What’s next for you and your business?   

For now, I will continue to build and grow my businesses in Indiana and Nashville. In the next couple years, begin publishing Coffee News in Florida. After that, sometime in the next 10 years, I hope to begin a small Coffee News business in Mexico. 

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