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

By Rieva Lesonsky

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Do you remember what you were doing in 1980? Likely not, sincebased on the average age of Entrepreneur readers, most ofyou were teenagers. I, on the other hand, was a research assistantat Entrepreneur magazine. Most of what I remember from thosedays is fragmentary, but I do recall sitting on the floorsurrounded by hundreds of forms, helping compileEntrepreneur's very first Franchise 500®, publishedin the 1980 March issue.

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

Flash forward a few years to the mid-1980s. I had leftEntrepreneur (been fired, actually) but was now back. Theneditorial assistant, now executive editor Maria Anton and I wereresponsible for compiling the annual Franchise 500®, which hadbrought the magazine some positive attention. Over the years, we(yes, we're both still here) have fine-tuned the 500, updatingthe formula (which, like McDonald's sauce, remains a secret tomost), adding new questions, requiring franchisor documentation andhaving a CPA review each franchise's financials.

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