Owning your own business is a huge lifestyle
change. Even our dogs
had to adjust.”
—Edna and Brent Buxton
Fitness Together ( www.fitnesstogether.com), a
network of more than 600 gyms that provide
one-on-one personal training throughout the
United States and in Canada, Costa Rica,
Israel and Ireland.
Sikorski bootstrapped his business in
1982 at the age of 21 in Phoenix. He sold his
car for $9,000 for start-up capital. With the
proceeds he bought used gym equipment
and rented a building. Because he didn’t
have enough money to both meet his
business obligations and rent an apartment, he lived in the gym for the first year.
After a few months of working on his
fledgling business, Sikorski had a number of
steady clients. They were enjoying results, and
the gym was getting a good reputation in the
community. The early signs of success were
enough to inspire Sikorski to leave the master’s program he’d been enrolled in and focus
on his business.
After 14 years, Sikorski, who eventually
relocated to the Denver area, had four locations. “I was a workaholic. I had no home life,
but I had a successful group of studios. I was
at a crossroads. I had to decide if I was going
to try to expand my own gyms across the
nation or franchise,” Sikorski says.
Franchising seemed the best route to
grow his business, but it was tough to trust
others with a business idea that had been
established through such personal sacrifice.
But after a steep six-year learning curve as a
franchiser, his business is rapidly expanding.
The final word
In researching this story, The Costco
Connection read many, many letters from
members involved in franchising in various
ways across the country. Some were stories of
success and others were bitter tales of failure.
Most, but not all, success stories had a prologue of lengthy and thorough research and
huge doses of soul searching, followed by lots
of hard work.
But there is no failsafe formula for success. Whether you’re looking for a way to
grow your business or you’re an entrepre-neurial-spirited person in search of pleasure
and profit in your work life, franchising
involves an element of risk. Recent studies,
including a Gallup survey, show that a majority of franchisees are glad they made the leap.
The letters we received reflect this too. The
conclusion that emerges from them: Franchising can be a great vocational path, but it
should not be taken lightly. C
Learn more about franchising
through these sources:
■ International Franchise Association
■ Small Business Administration
■ Entrepreneur, a monthly magazine,
and its Web site, www.entrepreneur.
com, thoroughly cover franchising and
other business issues.
■ Franchising Times, www.franchise
times.com, is a publication geared
specifically toward frachisers and
Fend off franchising fiascos continued from page 19
tem it has in place and the growth it
■ Consult an experienced franchisee
attorney to advise you on the risks and
advantages of making this substantial
investment before you sign a franchise
agreement. Your attorney should:
* Check the status of the trademark(s)
to make sure they are federally registered.
* Review the franchise agreement,
noting obligations (financial, reporting,
advertising, etc.) that the franchisee will
have to the franchiser, as well as concerns over items that are not typical, and
suggest revisions where necessary.
* Negotiate terms to make the franchise agreement fairer to both sides.
■ Retain experienced franchise
counsel to be on your team even if the
franchiser will not negotiate the fran-
chise agreement. This will assure you
understand your legal obligations under
the agreement before making the
investment. In addition, experienced
franchise attorneys can form your legal
entity (corporation or limited liability
company) and review and negotiate the
lease for your business location, as well
as provide other legal assistance you
may need. C