The U.S. Census Bureau reports that franchises accounted for 10.5 percent of businesses with paid employees—a total of nearly 8 million workers—in 2007 (the most recent year for comprehensive data). For many aspiring small business owners, this can be a very effective way to get into business, as owning a franchise eliminates the need for a “big idea” and comes with the requisite market experience.

TJ Ajmeri was used to serving customers, as the son of parents who owned a convenience store in New York City. After finishing his MBA and acquiring experience in hotel management, he noticed a new franchise, Pollo Campero, gaining traction in markets with large Latin American populations. He spent three months analyzing traffic flow and talking to local vendors before he decided to open a Pollo Campero franchise in Trenton, New Jersey.

Not all franchise operations are created equal, according to TJ. He mentions three major variables:

1) Amount of money needed to launch (total $750,000 for TJ’s location)
2) Size of franchise fee required ($40,000 for Pollo Campero)
3) Degree of support provided by the franchisor (superb in the case of Pollo Campero)

All of these factors combined with your own due diligence can make or break the experience. was a very valuable resource for TJ when he was doing his homework on good and bad franchises.

Today, a year and a half since opening, he and his partners are supporting themselves from the business and he is hoping to open another store.