Washington Post article Anita Huslin

Franchises are often seen as a good way for newcomers to start a business. For a fraction of the capital it would take to launch a business from scratch, franchisers can build one that comes with a basic road map. (Panera teaches you how to make the sandwiches. It's up to you to get the show up and running.)

But it's not a guaranteed route to success. In franchise-driven industries -- restaurants, hotels, motels -- failure rates are significantly higher than in others such as technology and equipment, said Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and author of "The Illusions of Entrepreneurship."

Now is a particularly tough time to launch a business, with fuel and material costs up and more Americans cutting back on discretionary spending.

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