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A Long Way

Reflections on 25 years of franchising from <i>Entrepreneur's</i> Editorial Director Rieva Lesonsky

This story appears in the January 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Do you remember what you were doing in 1980? Likely not, since based on the average age of Entrepreneur readers, most of you were teenagers. I, on the other hand, was a research assistant at Entrepreneur magazine. Most of what I remember from those days is fragmentary, but I do recall sitting on the floor surrounded by hundreds of forms, helping compile Entrepreneur's very first Franchise 500®, published in the 1980 March issue.

In those days, Entrepreneur was a little-known magazine helping people start businesses. Back in 1979 to '80, few Americans had entrepreneurial aspirations; most didn't even know what the word entrepreneur meant. The few advertisers we had at the time were pitching franchise and business opportunities (not nearly as popular then as they are today). Someone (I don't remember who) had the idea of ranking the franchises. And so, pre-PCs, we sat on the floor and compared the data.

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