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Stephen Sproule Rivernene, North Norfolk

Franchising provides the safety net

After 10 years of monitoring quality and production for Anglia Water, I had become frustrated with being an employee and left in search of a new venture where I could work for myself. The decision to invest in a franchise was based on my lack of business experience - I recognised that franchising would provide the safety net of a proven concept, branding, training and support.

My wife Claire and I chose to invest in a Rivernene franchise because it is an ethical business. We had faith in its organic products and felt that over time the products could cultivate repeat business. The fact that a territory near our home was for sale and that its survival was not reliant on hard selling or a few large customers gave us confidence.

After one week of intensive training in Devon we launched our franchise in May 2007. Just over a year on and business is growing steadily with a regular customer base. Running the business is hard work but I love being in control of my future, seeing satisfied customers and embracing the confidence the business and a customer-orientated environment have given me.

For the foreseeable future our main focus is to continue growing the business within our territory, and when our two children reach school age Claire will play an active role in the day-to-day running of our business.