Are you an entrepreneur? What to consider before deciding whether owning a business is right for you

MULBERRY, Fla., July 18, 2006 -- Business ownership comes with many perks: you can set your own hours, enjoy greater control over what you are doing, and there is no limit to how far you can go in your career.

But it takes a dedicated entrepreneur to manage the challenges of business ownership. Mike Whitten, director of dealer development for home furniture retailer W.S. Badcock Corporation, suggests that you first carefully consider what type of business best suits you, honestly evaluate your past and try to align previous experience with future needs.

"Then, the investment you have will guide your choices," says Whitten, who has more than 25 years of experience with companies such as Arby's and HoneyBaked Ham. "Background, geographic location, consumer demand and personality will all affect your options." He provides the following tips when considering business ownership.

Know Your Strengths

What you bring to the table will determine your business future.

* Be familiar with reviewing profit-loss statements

* Know how to manage a budget

* Be comfortable hiring and firing people

* Be prepared to hold employees accountable for their actions

* Understand marketing and advertising techniques

* Recognize the relationship businesses have with their consumers and with other businesses

Evaluate Financial & Real Estate Options

The financial commitment needed to launch your dream will vary significantly depending on the nature of the business. A florist shop, fast- food chain and home-furnishing store each have their own unique financial requirements. The cost of real estate can run into the multimillions, and is often the most significant expense business owners have. Conversely, many businesses can be run out of a person's home for as little as $500 a month.

Consider Franchising

According to the International Franchise Association (IFA), almost 80 percent of new business start-ups fail each year. For this reason, many people opt to use franchising as a secure way to become a business owner.

A franchise is a business established with permission to sell a company's goods or services in a particular area. When you franchise a business, what you are doing is essentially replicating a successful business plan in different geographic locations.

Another option similar to franchising is the dealership. Badcock has a dealership model, which is similar to a franchise but allows quicker start up and fewer up-front costs because their merchandise is consigned to the dealer and there are no franchise fees.

"Franchises or dealerships really are a fantastic way for people to get into business when they don't have expansive business knowledge but come to the table with the necessary people skills, personalities and financing to get it done," Whitten points out.

A good franchise company can prevent you from making mistakes or poor judgment calls within your business. Franchises can not only save you money, but they can also make you money by providing brand-name recognition, operating systems, marketing and advertising dollars, and ongoing assistance.

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