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Franchising extends beyond Subway and McDonald's. There are nearly countless varieties of franchises available for entrepreneurs to buy, including some in some surprising industries. For example, franchise hotels, fitness centers, hair salons, auto-repair shops, convenience stores, tax-preparation services and cleaning services join the most well-known, name-brand quick-serve restaurants in the top 25 spots of the most recent Franchise 500 list from Entrepreneur.

Once you have determined that franchising is the best fit for your entrepreneurial appetite, it can be overwhelming to try to determine which brand is the best fit for you. Selecting a franchise operation often requires thorough and intensive research. Examine the franchise agreements, financial statements of the franchisor, earnings statements or sample profit-and-loss statements from a franchisee, trade-area surveys, public perception of the franchise and news stories in the local and national press about the brand. Also, have a clear understanding of what the franchisor considers proprietary and requires the business owner to purchase from it directly.