Editor: December edition highlights

Gordon Brown finally uttered the 'R' word, but the melancholia which has descended on the UK's business sector is not universal - there are still plenty of ray's of optimism coming from business owners if you know where to look.

Many franchisors, for example, continue to expand as people turn away from traditional employment and look to put their future in their own hands by owning a franchise. We've dubbed these franchisors 'Phoenixes' and you can read their own accounts of why they are outperforming the economy in our 'Phoenix from the Flames' feature.

Following on from last edition's interviews with millionaire franchisees we have spoken to more individuals whose seven-figure turnovers are seeing them achieve their lifestyle ambitions, whether they be to buy a flash motor, improve their golf handicap in sunnier climes or free themselves up for the school run (see our 'Real life franchisee stories' section).

As Christmas approaches, NatWest Head of Franchising Mark Scott provides tips on how you can use the festive period to plan a change of direction in 2009 (see our "Decide on your franchise this Xmas' feature).

If you are starting out on your investigation into franchising, familiarise yourself with our Plain English Guide to Franchising, Questionnaire Checklist and Franchise FAQ'(see our 'Advice on buying a franchise' section).