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Road to Ambition What's it really like to buy a franchise? Read part one of our ongoing series following one couple's exciting trek to entrepreneurial success.

By Todd D. Maddocks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With all requisite apologies to songwriter John Mellencamp, thisis a little ditty about Jack and Diane--two American kidsgrowin' up in the Heartland. Jack wants to be a franchisestar--Diane will keep her job so he can change oil in cars. Yes,there are millions of franchise stories in the naked city. This isjust one. Reality TV has transcended its boundaries, and nowwe'll deliver the play-by-play of what it takes to investigate,purchase, open and run a franchised business. Step right up, folks,and feel their pain.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but thehopes and dreams of the franchisees we're following for thiscolumn, Jack and Diane, are no different from the hundreds of otherfranchisees I have worked with in my 14 years as a franchiseattorney/consultant. Believe me, they're just like you: chasingthe American dream of financial independence armed only withlimited resources and the gumption to persevere. Indulge yourselfas we unpeel the onion over the next few months and examine whathappens to Jack and Diane--in franchise land. We don't knowwhere this trip will go, but please put your chair in the full andupright position, because Jack and Diane are going to encounter alittle turbulence.

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