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Top Franchises You Can Launch for Less Than $50,000


Business ownership doesn't have to be super-expensive. Sure, some franchises cost thousands--even millions--of dollars to start. But a growing number of franchisors are coming up with homebased and mobile options, as well as new technologies, to help keep costs down for franchisees. Below, you'll find Entrepreneur 's Top Low-Cost Franchises, 97 businesses that can each be started for less than $50,000.

These companies are listed based on their ranking in Entrepreneur's 2013 Franchise 500®, which is determined using objective, quantifiable criteria, including system size, growth and financial strength and stability. This listing is not intended as a recommendation of any particular company, but merely as a starting point for your own research. Always make sure you know what you're investing in by reading a company's legal documents, consulting with an attorney and an accountant and talking to franchisees.

If costs are a priority in your franchise evaluation, pay particular attention to three sections of the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).

Item 5: Initial Fees This section outlines what you will owe to the franchisor before your franchise opens--most important, the franchise fee. Typically this is a uniform lump sum, but for some companies it varies based on factors like experience, location and territory size--so make sure you know exactly what you're paying for. A smaller territory may be cheaper, but it will also limit your business.

Item 5 will also tell you whether the franchise fee must be paid in full or whether it can be paid on an installment basis, and what the payment terms are.

Item 6: Other Fees Don't make the mistake of thinking your financial obligation to the franchisor ends when you pay the franchise fee. Item 6 outlines recurring and occasional fees, including royalties, which are required by almost all franchisors in return for their ongoing support. Usually royalty fees are a percentage of sales, but some companies may instead charge a flat fee on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.

Although royalty fees are not included in startup costs, they are just as important a consideration. A franchise with slightly higher startup costs but low royalties may turn out to be a better deal in the long run than one with low startup costs but high royalties.

Item 7: Estimated Initial Investment Two words are important to note here: estimated and initial. Item 7 gives a range of how much it likely will cost to start the business: the franchise fee, plus additional costs such as real estate, equipment, supplies, business licenses and working capital. Actual costs will vary depending on your individual circumstances. While all the companies on this list can be started for less than $50,000 (based on their Item 7 estimates), that doesn't mean all their franchisees start their businesses for that little. If keeping startup costs low is a priority, examining the table in Item 7 will help you determine how to do it, whether it's running the business from home, buying used equipment or leasing equipment.

It's also important to recognize that this is just the initial investment. It covers only the money needed to get the business up and running, along with operating expenses for a short period--typically around three months. Don't get into a franchise thinking this is all the money you'll ever have to spend. Like with any business, you will have significant ongoing expenses.

Unlike most independent businesses, though, you can talk to existing franchisees to find out what those ongoing expenses are and whether you'll be able to manage them. Reading the FDD is essential to your decision-making process, but firsthand accounts from the trenches are indispensable when deciding what makes a wise franchise investment.

1. H & R Block Tax preparation & electronic filing Startup cost: $31.5K-138.7K Total franchises/co.-owned: 5,083/6,588

2. Jan-Pro Franchising International Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $3.1K-50.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 11,146/0

3. System4 Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $6.2K-37.8K Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,392/2

4. Vanguard Cleaning Systems Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $9.9K-39.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 2,696/0

5. Jazzercise Dance fitness classes, conventions, apparel & accessories Startup cost: $2.98K-76.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 8,641/2

6. Cruise Planners-American Express Travel Cruise & tour travel agency Startup cost: $1.6K-19.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,172/0

7. Anago Cleaning Systems Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $8.5K-65.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 2,432/2

8. Chem-Dry Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Carpet, drapery & upholstery cleaning; tile & stone care Startup cost: $32.7K-127K Total franchises/co.-owned: 3,500/0

9. CruiseOne Cruise & travel agency Startup cost: $4.6K-26.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 884/0

10. Novus Glass Auto glass repair & replacement Startup cost: $31.6K-134.8K Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,581/13

11. Heaven's Best Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Carpet & upholstery cleaning Startup cost: $44.9K-65.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 1,304/0

12. Proforma Printing & promotional products Startup cost: $4.7K-44.7K Total franchises/co.-owned: 709/0

13. Cellairis Franchise Cell-phone & wireless-device accessories Startup cost: $36.8K-182.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 620/0

14. Buildingstars International Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $2.2K-52.8K Total franchises/co.-owned: 376/0

15. DKI Insurance restoration services Startup cost: $7.1K-117.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 265/0

16. American Poolplayers Association Recreational billiard league Startup cost: $17.1K-24.2K Total franchises/co.-owned: 308/4

17. Coffee News Weekly newspaper distributed at restaurants Startup cost: $9.4K-10.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 883/4

18. U.S. Lawns Commercial landscape maintenance services Startup cost: $48.5K-75.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 262/0

19. Real Property Management Property-management services Startup cost: $35.6K-74.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 198/1

20. Mint Condition Franchising Janitorial & building-maintenance services Startup cost: $4.9K-45.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 265/0

21. SuperGlass Windshield Repair Windshield repair Startup cost: $9.9K-31K Total franchises/co.-owned: 285/0

22. N-Hance Wood floor & cabinet renewal systems Startup cost: $30.5K-130.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 218/0

23. Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services In-home tutoring services Startup cost: $27.7K-56.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 404/0

24. Rooter-Man Plumbing, drain & sewer cleaning Startup cost: $46.8K-137.6K Total franchises/ co.-owned: 481/8

25. MaidPro Housecleaning services Startup cost: $19.8K-114.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 158/1

26. Caring Transitions Sales of estates & household goods Startup cost: $45.5K-73.7K Total franchises/co.-owned: 127/0

27. Soccer Shots Franchising Soccer programs for children ages 2 to 8 Startup cost: $17.9K-22.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 133/8

28. Mr. Sandless/Dr. DecknFence Sandless wood refinishing Startup cost: $12.4K-62.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 254/11

29. HappyFeet Legends International Soccer programs for children ages 2 to 18 Startup cost: $18.3K-23.2K Total franchises/co.-owned: 107/5

30. Guard-A-Kid Children's identification & safety products Startup cost: $21.4K-38.7K Total franchises/co.-owned: 182/1

31. OpenWorks Commercial cleaning & facility services Startup cost: $17K-119.95K Total franchises/co.-owned: 303/5

32. Bricks 4 Kidz Lego engineering classes, camps & birthday parties Startup cost: $33.8K-51.1K Total franchises/co.-owned: 231/2

33. Fresh Coat Interior painting Startup cost: $44.4K-70.95K Total franchises/co.-owned: 89/0

34. Just Between Friends Franchise Systems Children's & maternity consignment-sale events Startup cost: $25.4K-32.8K Total franchises/co.-owned: 132/0

35. Complete Music Mobile DJ-entertainment service Startup cost: $30.4K-48.7K Total franchises/co.-owned: 180/2

36. ASP-America's Swimming Pool Swimming pool maintenance, repairs & renovations Startup cost: $48.8K-89.96K Total franchises/co.-owned: 124/1

37. City Publications Publication for affluent homeowners Startup cost: $45K-150K Total franchises/co.-owned: 96/0

38. Estrella Insurance Auto, home & business insurance Startup cost: $49.95K-84K Total franchises/co.-owned: 55/0

39. The Glass Guru Window restoration & replacements Startup cost: $27.7K-117.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 69/1

40. Pillar To Post Inspection Services Home inspections Startup cost: $30.9K-46.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 349/0

41. Plan Ahead Events Corporate event planning Startup cost: $38.9K-70.2K Total franchises/co.-owned: 99/0

42. Kinderdance International Children's movement/educational program Startup cost: $14.95K-46.1K Total franchises/co.-owned: 128/2

43. Realty Executives International Real estate Startup cost: $20.4K-119K Total franchises/co.-owned: 521/1

44. Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $14.9K-59K Total franchises/co.-owned: 110/1

45. Bevintel Liquor inventory-control services Startup cost: $36.9K-50.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 307/2

46. Amazing Athletes Sports-based fitness & enrichment classes for children Startup cost: $38.2K-53.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 67/0

47. Sit Means Sit Dog Training Dog training Startup cost: $21.1K-93.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 67/1

48. Drama Kids International After-school drama classes & summer camps Startup cost: $33.6K-38.95K Total franchises/co.-owned: 196/0

49. TGA Premier Junior Golf Youth golf programs Startup cost: $13.2K-62.2K Total franchises/co.-owned: 48/2

50. Izon Global Media & Billboard Connection Ad agency specializing in outdoor media Startup cost: $42K-64.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 121/0

51. Young Rembrandts Franchise Art classes for children ages 3 to 12 Startup cost: $40.4K-48.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 96/0

52. Acti-Kare Nonmedical in-home senior care Startup cost: $17K-36K Total franchises/co.-owned: 35/0

53. Grout Doctor Global Franchise Grout, tile & stone care Startup cost: $15.9K-39.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 71/3

54. The Decor Group Landscape, outdoor, holiday & event Startup cost: $16.1K-77.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 291/0

55. Town Money Saver Direct-mail advertising Startup cost: $35.6K-44.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 38/0

56. Yellow Van Handyman Handyman services Startup cost: $19.5K-32K Total franchises/co.-owned: 47/0

57. Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $10.8K-44.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 9,202/0

58. AmeriSpec Home Inspection Services Home inspections Startup cost: $41.4K-72.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 294/0

59. AArrow Advertising Advertising, sign spinning, guerrilla marketing Startup cost: $36.9K-80K Total franchises/co.-owned: 43/0

60. BookKeeping Express Bookkeeping services Startup cost: $39.4K-55.1K Total franchises/co.-owned: 40/3

61. Squeegee Squad Residential & high-rise window cleaning & building maintenance Startup cost: $28.4K-77.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 35/1

62. Window Gang Window, gutter, house, roof, dryer-vent & chimney cleaning; deck & fence cleaning/sealing Startup cost: $34.4K-81.1K Total franchises/co.-owned: 168/25

63. My Gym Children's Fitness Center Children's early-learning/fitness program Startup cost: $34.3K-236.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 291/0

64. Fast-teks On-site Computer Services On-site computer-repair services Startup cost: $36.5K-62.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 251/0

65. Kitchen Tune-Up Residential & commercial kitchen & bath remodeling Startup cost: $45.8K-55.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 155/0

66. Snaggle Foot Dog Walks & Pet Care Pet-sitting & dog-walking services Startup cost: $11.8K-21.8K Total franchises/co.-owned: 17/5

67. ERA Franchise Systems Real estate Startup cost: $47.7K-209.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 2,311/11

68. Mainstream Boutique Women's clothing, accessories & gifts Startup cost: $43.7K-129.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 22/1

69. National Property Inspections Home & commercial property inspections Startup cost: $39.6K-42K Total franchises/co.-owned: 207/0

70. Cruise Holidays Cruise travel agency Startup cost: $10.4K-160.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 221/4

71. Jantize America Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $29.7K-171.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 247/0

72. Computer Troubleshooters Small-business technology consulting Startup cost: $17.2K-67.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 415/0

73. Baby Boot Camp/Karna Fitness Prenatal & postnatal fitness; women's private & small-group training Startup cost: $4.7K-10.4K Total franchises/co.-owned: 147/1

74. Sunbelt Business brokerage Startup cost: $49.95K-112.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 223/1

75. Certified Restoration DryCleaning Network Textile-restoration services Startup cost: $45.6K-235.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 151/0

76. Dale Carnegie Training Workplace training & development Startup cost: $40K-164.95K Total franchises/co.-owned: 202/2

77. Summit Learning Services Tutoring/learning services Startup cost: $32.99K-46.99K Total franchises/co.-owned: 20/13

78. WIN Home Inspection Home inspections Startup cost: $42.5K-66.7K Total franchises/co.-owned: 164/0

79. Aire-Master of America Restroom deodorizing & maintenance services Startup cost: $34.7K-126.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 91/4

80. Jet-Black International Asphalt maintenance services Startup cost: $38.4K-90.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 75/8

81. 9Round Kickboxing fitness program Startup cost: $40K-52K Total franchises/co.-owned: 50/3

82. HomeVestors of America Home-buying, repair & selling system Startup cost: $42.3K-346.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 329/0

83. 360clean Commercial cleaning Startup cost: $9.4K-15.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 60/0

84. Oxi Fresh Franchising Carpet cleaning Startup cost: $37.7K-60.1K Total franchises/co.-owned: 229/4

85. Mom Corps Staffing services Startup cost: $39.2K-63.7K Total franchises/co.-owned: 17/0

86. Sports Image Sports marketing for high schools & organizations Startup cost: $15.5K-38.97K Total franchises/co.-owned: 18/1

87. The Senior's Choice Assisted-living & healthcare-staffing services Startup cost: $34K-51K Total franchises/co.-owned: 166/0

88. Tutoring Club Individualized instruction for K-12 students Startup cost: $26.3K-127.3K Total franchises/co.-owned: 120/1

89. Assist-2-Sell Discount real-estate services Startup cost: $19.5K-40.99K Total franchises/co.-owned: 242/1

90. Pressed4Time Dry-cleaning pickup & delivery, shoe repair Startup cost: $35.9K-44.8K Total franchises/co.-owned: 117/0

91. Murphy Business & Financial Business & franchise brokerage/commercial real estate Startup cost: $45.8K-113.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 146/1

92. Tax Centers of America Tax preparation & electronic filing Startup cost: $20.3K-63.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 117/1

93. The Mad Science Group Children's science education & entertainment Startup cost: $49.4K-80.2K Total franchises/co.-owned: 159/0

94. Lil' Angels Photography School & child-care photography Startup cost: $46.7K-51.2K Total franchises/co.-owned: 72/0

95. Abrakadoodle Art-education programs for children Startup cost: $35.8K-74.5K Total franchises/co.-owned: 103/2

96. i9 Sports Youth sports leagues, camps & clinics Startup cost: $44.9K-72.9K Total franchises/co.-owned: 115/1

97. CompuChild Technology education for children Startup cost: $18.5K-33.6K Total franchises/co.-owned: 50/2

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