Jean Chatzky
Do you ever dream of becoming your own boss, but you just don't know how to go about starting a business? Franchising might be an option for you. With franchising, someone else has already come up with the million-dollar idea and laid out the plans—all you have to do is follow them (and put up some cash, of course).

Jean calls on James H. Amos Jr., one of the founders of Mailboxes Etc., to explain the ins and outs of franchising. James says there are 83 specific industries in the United States that operate using the business-format franchise system—enough to suit just about everyone.

Here are his answers to some of Jean's most pressing questions:
  • How do I know which of the 83 different options are for me? Follow your heart and passion. "Walk in the path of something that you have an interest in, and an aptitude for," says James.
  • What does it take to be successful? You have to have a passion for it, says James. "You can't view it as buying a job," he says, "but as grabbing a hold of a proven vehicle that will allow you to achieve your dreams."
  • What's the rate of failure? It varies so much, James says, but the point is that you're not stepping into something so risky as beginning an independent business. "Starting a business without help and support is a giant task," he adds.
  • What's the difference between a franchisee and an entrepreneur? The pure entrepreneurs often start the franchising businesses, James says. If you don't have the entrepreneurial instincts to start your own business, the support of a franchise can be a huge help.
  • What if I have an idea that I want to franchise? The best thing to do is to prove it in the marketplace, James says. Begin a pilot store—that's the way most franchises start.
The information provided here is general advice and you should always consult your own financial adviser before making major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio. The opinions expressed by the hosts, guests and callers to Oprah Radio are strictly their own.

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