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Which Way?

You've got an idea. Now you want to find the fastest route to making it a reality. One of these 5 ways to start a business is sure to be right for you.

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This story appears in the October 2005 issue of Start Up.

You've got the idea buzzing around your head. You know you want to start a business, but you're not sure how. Perhaps you've got your eye on a fast-growing franchise. Maybe you'd rather carve out a specific niche or come up with an entirely new idea and build a business that way. You may have your sights set on a local business for sale that you can buy and build into an empire. Or maybe there's a business idea already out there that you want to reinvent for yourself. Choosing your business path probably won't be easy, but we've assembled a quick-study list of expert pros and cons of each startup method, along with a quintet of inspirational entrepreneurs who've been there, to help you develop your startup strategy.

Feeling for a Franchise

If you've ever gotten your hands on Entrepreneur's Franchise 500®you know that there's a franchise to cover nearly every industry or business idea you can imagine. Someone has gone before, perfected the system and, for the price of a franchise fee, will show you how to do the same. The plus side of choosing franchising as your get-into-business track: "The sense of confidence it gives you. You're stepping into a system that has already created success," says Michael Clark, founder of Business and Beyond, a small-business management consulting firm in Greenbrae, California. The franchisor's established methods can include systems for things like bookkeeping, as well as built-in relationships with vendors. An established franchisor may even be able to help with financing.

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