Five MORE cheap franchises to start with less than $10,000

We can all take a shot at starting our own businesses, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Here are five businesses you could launch with very little in the way of capital investment.

This is a follow-up to one of the most popular blog posts on this site: Five cheap franchises to start with less than $10,000. Here are five MORE businesses you could launch with very little in the way of capital investment:

1) Stroller Strides. Stroller Strides offers fitness programs for new moms and their babies. Since the business serves new mothers, it makes sense to have mothers run the company’s franchised outlets. Currently, Stroller Strides boasts of more than 1,200 locations in 44 states. Start-up costs range from $4,000 to $18,000 (per Entrepreneur). www.strollerstrides.com.

2) GarageExperts. GarageExperts helps consumers “unclutter their worlds” by redesigning their garages to maximize storage and cleanliness. The company offers cabinets, floor coatings, racks and more. Start-up costs range from $4,600 to $20,500 (per Entrepreneur). www.garageexperts.com.

3) Buildingstars. A commercial cleaning company based in St. Louis, Buildingstars added 34 new franchisees in 2011. The company’s emphasis on “green cleaning” could be a part of that as it not only lowers costs for businesses, but protects the environment, too. Start-up costs range from $2,200 to $52,800 (per Entrepreneur). www.buildingstars.com.

4) Jazzercise. Jazzercise offers cardio classes that fuse jazz music, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing for a one-hour workout that burns up to 600 calories. The company now has nearly 8,200 locations across the country. Start-up costs range from $2,980 to $76,500 (per Entrepreneur). www.jazzercise.com.

5) Fairway Divorce Solutions. A company that helps its clients agree on the best financial and custodial options during a divorce, Fairway serves as a mediator during the often-painful process of splitting up. The company added eight locations in 2011. Start-up costs range from $10,000 to 35,000 (per Entrepreneur). www.fairwaydivorcefranchise.com.

Other low-cost franchises include In Home Pet Services ($7k+) and restroom deodorizing company Aerowest/Westair Deodorizing Services ($8.5K+).

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3 reasons to buy stock in a Dunkin’ Donuts IPO

A date hasn’t been set, but Dunkin’ Brands Inc. could IPO as early as July. Here are three reasons to consider adding shares in Dunkin’s IPO to your portfolio.

Six years after being yanked off public stock exchanges, a group of private equity firms is mulling an IPO for Dunkin’ Brands Inc. A date hasn’t been set, but the donut retailer could IPO as early as July according to anonymous Reuters sources. Here are three reasons to consider adding shares in Dunkin’s IPO to your portfolio:

1) More than delicious donuts. Dunkin’ brands operates Dunkin’ Donuts and ice cream shop Baskin-Robbins. Combined, there are more than 15,500 Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins outlets around the world. On top of that, though, Dunkin’ Donuts has put the full weights of its brand name behind its well-known coffee. You can now find Dunkin’ brand coffee everywhere, from CVS to Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart to K-Mart, Target and Kroger. Today, coffee sales account for more than half of Dunkin’s business.

2) Lots of dough. Since the company went private in 2005, growth has accelerated with the opening of 574 net new locations worldwide last year, according to Boston.com. Those stores and the company’s popular java generated sales of more than $7.7 billion – up 7 percent from 2009. For each new Baskin-Robbins or Dunkin’ Donuts franchise that opens, the corporation collects a royalty of 5.9 percent. More stores = lots more cash.

3) International growth. Late last month, Dunkin’ Donuts announced the opening of its 3,000th location outside the U.S. The restaurant in Shanghai, China, “is the Company’s 71st restaurant in Greater China,” according to a press release. Robust growth abroad will be key if Dunkin’ Brands hopes to satisfy investors scrutinizing quarterly reports. Dunkin’s management appears to be on the same page. The company signed an agreement with Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd. last year to open more than 500 Dunkin’ Donuts in India over the next 15 years, and the company’s pushing aggressively into Russia and Ukraine.

“We hope that any money (from the IPO) will go back into the brand,’’ Jim Coen, president of Dunkin’ Donuts Independent Franchise Owners, tells Boston.com. “Going public will add transparency. But it will also drive the need for quarterly growth. And that’s a concern to franchise owners who have been growing their businesses for over 50 years.’’

Dunkin’s choices after the IPO will decide the company’s fate in the coming decade. Let’s just hope they don’t go the route of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (NYSE:KKD) and push stale versions of their product into every gas station that will have them. If they focus instead on maximizing foot traffic and sales at their existing stores, I expect they’ll do just fine.

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Top 10 most expensive franchises to start

Hotels dominate lists of the most expensive franchises to start. Outside of that industry, though, what are the most expensive franchises to start?

Entrepreneur Magazine published their list of the Top 500 franchises in their most recent issue, and I thumbed through the full list to pull out the Top 10 most expensive franchises to start. This list excludes hotels as there are more than a dozen hotel franchises that require an investment of more than $1 million. Indeed, the single most expensive franchise on Entrepreneur’s list is the Doubletree hotel, which requires an initial investment of at least $33.9 million. Here’s a list of the Top 10 most expensive franchises to start outside of the hotel and motel industries:

1) Amazing Spaces, Franchise Startup Costs: $2.2-$7.2 million, plus a 6 percent franchise royalty.

A self-storage company, Amazing Spaces claims the industry pulls in $22 billion in sales every year. The company stresses convenience and security over low costs, and all of its units come with monitored door alarms and covered unloading areas. www.amazingspacesfranchise.com.

2) Golden Corral, Franchise Startup Costs: $2.1-6.4 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.

The largest grill-buffet chain in the country, a new Golden Corral opened every 17 business days on average in 2009. The company requires $500,000 liquid capital and $2,500,000 in net worth. www.goldencorralfranchise.com.

3) ampm, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.8-7.6 million, plus a 5 percent franchise royalty.

A BP company, ampm has the sort of experience that will help ensure your startup is successful. They’ve got the location requirements down to an exact science. You need access to a hard corner, for instance, with a 40,000-60,000 square foot pad, 30,000+ cars going through the nearest intersection every day and a daytime population of 18,000 or more people within a two-mile radius of the unit. www.ampm.com.

4) Culver’s Custard, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.7-2.8 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.

More than 400 Culver’s restaurants serve up frozen custard across the country. After paying the $55,000 franchise fee, the company will put you through 16 weeks of training. That includes 12 weeks of classroom training and “on-the-job training at a family-owned Culver’s in Wisconsin.” You’ll also spend an additional four weeks assisting during the opening process at other new Culver’s restaurants across the country. www.culvers.com/franchise.

5) Buffalo Wild Wings, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.4-3.2 million, plus a 5 percent franchise royalty.

Started by two New Yorkers from Buffalo who were shocked to find they couldn’t get Buffalo-style wings when they moved to Kent, Ohio, Buffalo Wild Wings has grown to operate more than 600 restaurants in 41 states. The restaurant’s powerful branding makes it one of the top locations to watch sporting events in high-traffic, high-visibility areas. franchiseinfo.buffalowildwings.com.

6) KFC Corp., Franchise Startup Costs: $1.3-2.5 million, plus a 5 percent franchise royalty.

Serving food to more than 12 million customers a day in 109 countries, KFC Corp. offers a great pool of knowledge and business know-how for you to draw on. The company claims they control 42 percent of the “chicken quick serve restaurant (QSR)” market in the U.S. with more than 80 percent of its stateside outlets being operated by franchisees. www.kfcfranchise.com.

7) Carl’s Jr., Franchise Startup Costs: $1.3-1.8 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.

Carl’s Jr. operates more than 1,100 restaurants worldwide, more than 300 of which are dual-branded as Carl’s Jr./Green Burrito restaurants. They’re predominantly located on the West Coast, and the company’s pushing hard into the following states: Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Texas and Washington. Franchisees must agree to a three restaurant minimum, which pushes the startup costs over $1.3 million. www.ckefranchise.com.

8) Hardees, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.2-1.6 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.

Predominantly based on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Hardees operates 1,925 restaurants worldwide. Like Carl’s Jr. (also a CKE Franchise), Hardees requires a three restaurant minimum, which drives up startup costs. The company’s currently focused on expansion into Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. www.ckefranchise.com.

9) Denny’s Inc., Franchise Startup Costs: $1.1-2.4 million, plus a 4 percent franchise royalty.

After slumping sales during the 1990s, Denny’s has reinvented itself by improving its food quality and giving more control of the chain over to franchisees. The company has also leveraged social media marketing and a brilliant “free breakfast” Superbowl advertising campaign that drove in some two million new customers to the restaurants outlets. A lot of those new customers started coming back and Denny’s added 126 new restaurants in 2010. www.dennys.com.

10) McDonald’s, Franchise Startup Costs: $1.1-1.9 million, plus a 0 percent franchise royalty.

With more than 2,400 Owner/Operators, McDonald’s is one of the world’s most successful and well-known franchises. The company’s training program for franchisees sets the standard for other companies, and it draws on world class business experience. New McDonald’s franchisees typically get started by purchasing an existing McDonald’s location. www.aboutmcdonalds.com.

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Five cheap franchises to start with less than $10,000

Find an industry you truly love, and you’ll probably be able to find a franchise that fits your budget, especially since cheap franchises can be started for as little as $2,845.

Franchises are so ubiquitous we often don’t realize we’re shopping at one. From McDonald’s to Hampton Inns and doggie day cares to campgrounds, they’re literally everywhere. All told, franchises account for 10.5 percent of all businesses in the U.S, and they employ 7.9 million workers in a work force of 59 million, according to Entrepreneur magazine.

Here’s a short list of five cheap franchises to start with less than $10,000:

1) Travel Leaders, $2,845. As a “direct descendant” of “Ask Mr. Foster,” founded in 1888 in St. Augustine, Florida, Travel Leaders claims to be the oldest travel agent network in the country. The agency serves two sectors: business travel and vacation travel. Counting sales volume from franchisees, the company eclipsed the $6 billion mark last year. Once a franchise has been established and demonstrated success, it can graduate to a lower-fee franchise that would be operated under the brand name Results! Travel. Franchise royalties for both brands are a flat monthly fee between $450 and $995 month.

2) Fiesta Insurance Franchise Corp., $3,400. An auto insurance and tax preparation company might not be the easiest franchise to start from scratch, but it can be lucrative – particularly if you use the franchise as a starting point for additional services the company offers such as Refund Anticipation Loans. Fiesta makes up for its low barrier to entry with an extremely high royalty fee that ranges from 15 percent to 25 percent.

3) Mojo Photo Booth, $6,495. Not a franchise, per say, but Mojo Photo Booth takes a simple idea and helps you build your own business around it. They provide you with a photo booth for use at weddings, and you do all the marketing, branding, billing and legwork.

Here’s how it works: Set up a portable enclosure where wedding guests can pose for shots with props, then print out two sets of photos: one for the bride and groom and one for the guests themselves. The bridge and groom then get a nice scrapbook filled with goofy pics of all the wedding guests they invited, and the guests get a nice memento to take home from the wedding. The average photo booth rental fee is $1,027, according to Mojo, and the industry generates some $42 billion a year by servicing more than 2.2 million weddings. The turnkey model Mojo offers is particularly appealing as it doesn’t require royalties or fees beyond your initial investment in the photo booth.

4) Vanguard Cleaning Systems, $8,200. Started in 1984, Vanguard now has more than 2,000 franchises cleaning more than 9,000 offices in the U.S. and Canada. The company’s selective in picking the right franchisees, though, with their strong emphasis on customer service and low cost (two things that rarely go hand in hand). Still, the rewards can be large if you make the grade. Vanguard’s franchising fee is just 5 percent.

5) SuperGlass Windshield Repair, $9,910. A company that focuses solely on glass repair, SuperGlass argues that too many automotive companies urge consumers to replace windshields that could otherwise be repaired. The company offers franchisees the means and training to fix scratches, cracks and chips from home or a brick-and-mortar-based retail outlet. At 4 percent, SuperGlass has the lowest percentage-based franchise royalty fee on our list.

“We still reject more (franchisees) than we accept,” one of the founders of SuperGlass, Bill Costello, tells Entrepreneur. “Not everyone is cut out to be a franchise owner. We give them the correct information, but it’s still a huge, emotional decision for them and their family.”

Want more? Check out our updated post: Five MORE cheap franchises to start with less than $10,000.

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