Sunday, January 07, 2001

Small-business diary

Franchise info crucial, and abounds

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

        Comparing franchises is not easy, according to the American Bar Association Legal Guide for Small Business, which says: “It can be quite difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison between any two franchises.”

        It added these tips:

        • The franchise agreement is one of the most important documents you will ever sign. Make sure you understand it fully and have good legal advice before you sign.

        • Any promises the seller makes to you must be included in the contract. If some are missing in the final contract, ask why. If you sign the contract without the promise there, the seller will not have to do it.

        • Don't be afraid to negotiate. You'll never know what concessions you can get unless you try.

        The guide lists several areas to go for information:

        • The American Express Web site - - has a section on franchising as part of its small-business services package.

        • The Small Business Administration has a pamphlet called “Understanding the Franchise Contract.” Get it from a local office or its Web site:

        • The Federal Trade Commission has brochures and other materials about its disclosure rule for franchisers and the franchise contract. Write the FTC at Federal Trade Commission, Room 130, Washington, DC 20580, or check its Web site:

        • The American Franchisee Association Web site offers useful tips and information; check

        Avoid "analysis paralysis'

        Evaluating a lot but doing nothing is “analysis paralysis,” according to the Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting Your Own Business.


        “In this mode, you never know enough to make a decision or take any action, and consequently, nothing gets done,” author Edward Paulson said. “You keep trying to gather more information before you make a decision. If you find yourself having meetings to schedule your next meeting, you are in real trouble. ...

        “You have to do something, or nothing will get done. Don't be too afraid to make a mistake, or you will get too bogged down trying to make a perfect decision and you will accomplish nothing. You can analyze a problem to death, and if this happens often enough, it will kill your business and dreams along with it while stifling those around you in the process.”


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- Small-business diary