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Entrepreneurship: Options

There are many routes to becoming an entrepreneur which include:

Start a New Business Concept
You come up with a new idea for an innovative business be it a new type of hamburger restaurant, waste hauling service or web site. You figure out what resources are needed to launch it -- money, retail space, equipment, employees -- and get started.

Buy a Franchise
Some who have a strong desire to own their own business and be their own boss choose to buy a franchise. A franchise is defined as an agreement between a small business owner, the franchisee, and the parent company, the franchiser. The parent company gives the franchisee the right to sell the company's products and often provides support services like advertising and supplier relationships, in return for a franchise fee and percent of the profits. Franchising is a very common -- for example, many of the largest fast food chains are franchisers -- and it can offer an entrepreneur the advantage of starting out with a well-known brand and business model. But that can come at the cost of sharing your profits and losing some of the independence and control entrepreneurs value. Some find the franchise system works so well for them that they end up operating multiple stores for a single franchiser.

Buy an Existing Business
If there's no one innovative idea of your own that you think would make a good business, you might consider buying an existing business. This offers the chance to start out with an established small business that already has an income stream and a core set of customers. You can run your own show without having to go through the initial start-up phase. But it's critically important to do a thorough job of evaluating the business before you buy it, to have a clear contract with the seller about what you can each expect after the sale (for example, do you want a non-compete agreement?), and to understand that existing customers are yours to lose if you don't manage the business at least as well as the outgoing owner.

Copy an Existing Concept
Find a great local business started by someone else. If there's nothing like it in your own community, you can study it and transfer it to your community or to a place you want to live. You need to thoroughly do your research and be sure that a "match" exists between the concept and demographics of where you choose to locate the business. And of course, while you can copy a general idea, don't run the risk of a lawsuit -- or worse -- by infringing on someone else's trademarks, copyrights, or other protected intellectual property.

Become a One Person Firm
You can subcontract your skills and become a one person consulting or services firm. You have the advantage of being highly focused and can offer your clients lower costs, specialized services, and greater flexibility than they would have if they tried to hire full-time employees with the same skills. A great many professional, technical, and clerical specialists have chosen this career path. Companies find it easier and cheaper to subcontract out work rather than hiring folks that they may have just laid off in their last round of cost-cutting -- or may have to lay off next week or next year. It allows them to stay lean and flexible.

Start a "Work at Home" Business
This is one of the hottest areas in the economy today. Many small business ideas can be launched from home. This can involve everything from stuffing envelopes to running an Ebay business or starting your own web site.
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