So you want to be in business for yourself, but you don't have a novel business idea. You want to be your own boss, but the boss of what? You say you're interested in being out on your own, but aren't thrilled with the idea of going it alone. Ever considered a franchise?

Thousands of people have. While franchise ownership isn't for everyone, for many would-be entrepreneurs it's a perfect way to ease into autonomy. How do I know? Because every year our company, Cold Stone Creamery, helps hundreds of impassioned ice cream lovers enter the "making people happy business." Or should I say, the ice cream business. One franchisee told me he made the decision to get into franchising after his college professor revealed a secret of success. The professor said, "Your profession should bring you as much joy as, say, owning an ice cream store." The soon-to-be franchisee said, "I thought to myself, why not just own an ice cream store?"

There's a lot to love about franchising. For me, the best part is working with franchisees. Even though I previously worked in the Anheuser-Busch system and at Procter & Gamble, this beats them both. True, I met some terrific people and established a good fundamental business foundation working for these companies, but it's only been by leading a franchise organization that I've experienced the thrill of helping emerging business owners live their dreams. Take for example, Cindy Caperino. Before owning a Cold Stone, Cindy was a nurse. She cared for people through life's most difficult times. And while she's a caregiver through and through, she, like so many after years in a profession, needed a change. Then she found Cold Stone. Now she cares for thousands of customers who send her letters of praise for making them happy. She's even known affectionately around town as the Ice Cream Lady!