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Survival Of The Biggest In the war against category killers, franchises provide entrepreneurs with secret weapons: a big company brand and the specialized service of an independent.

By Bob Weinstein

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's something to be said for not starting a business,but rather jump-starting one by buying a well-knownfranchise--especially if you're surrounded by massive retailchains. For entrepreneurs in certain industries, it's becomethe only realistic way to not get killed by category killers and toeven gain a competitive advantage over retailers 100 times biggerthan you are.

On their own, Stephen Adams, 44, who runs a pet-supply store,and Jeff McCoy, 36, a consumer electronics entrepreneur, might nothave had a chance against the category killers in their respectiveindustries. Fortunately, they didn't even try. Last year, Adamsbought a Pet Valu franchise from Valu International, based inWayne, Pennsylvania; in 1996, McCoy purchased a Radio Shackfranchise from Tandy Corp.

Prior to buying his Pet Valu franchise with a $10,000 downpayment and a bank loan, Adams was the night shift manager in asteel-fabrication factory. "After 22 years in the same job, Iwas tired of making money for other people," Adamsrecalls.

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