‘Be in Business for Yourself, Not by Yourself’ with UT Haslam Franchise Certification

January 23, 2024

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) in the Haslam College of Business will host the latest iteration of its Franchise Certification program from March 4 through May 7. Seating for the $1,500 program is limited, so early enrollment is recommended.

Haslam’s Franchising Certification: The First Step to Success

The highly applicable offering dives into how franchising works, so participants can both decide if franchising is right for them and move ahead if it proves to be a good fit. Students learn best practices for operating a franchise business and get insider perspectives from industry professionals while networking with like-minded entrepreneurial contacts.

Ultimately, the program conveys to students the latitude that comes from working for yourself while drawing on the support, expertise and built-in recognition of an existing brand. The program faculty themselves are successful franchisers. Shelly Sun (HCB, ’92), a program donor, epitomizes this success.

Sun is the founder and CEO of BrightStar Care, a home healthcare franchise dedicated to providing both medical and non-medical assistance for families and individuals. Since Sun founded the company in 2002, BrightStar Care has grown to more than 365 locations represented by 200 small businesses and reached nearly $700 million in system-wide revenues in 2023. It is consistently included in Forbes’ Top Ten Franchises under $150,000 initial investment.

Sun helped launch Haslam’s Franchise Certification program both because of her regard for her alma mater and because she believes introducing aspiring entrepreneurs to the advantages of franchising can help them build economic prosperity.

“Franchising is such a great way for someone who might be thinking about starting a business to do so with a little bit more of a safety net,” Sun says. “Marketing, developing a website, creating a brand and collateral materials and a sales process — all of those things take time, and they take money. Being able to hitch your wagon to a successful brand is what franchising has been for me. I feel that franchising is a safer journey for being an entrepreneur than going about it all on your own. Enabling more entrepreneurs across our country is how we’ll continue to create wealth and chop away at economic disparity.”

A Program for Entrepreneurs of All Backgrounds

Individuals seeking more independence in their careers, veterans transitioning from the military, members of groups underrepresented in traditional business and self-starters looking to channel their energies into a new enterprise will benefit from the program. Sun says when franchising is mentioned, most people’s minds immediately leap to establishments like fast food establishments, but this type of business encompasses much more.

“There are so many sectors of the economy that franchising touches,” she explains. “How great would it be to see more individuals become entrepreneurs and make an impact on their own local economies? Ideally, I think we reach those in the economy that may not otherwise have seen franchising.”

Essential Franchise Instruction

In just eight weeks, students will learn the basics of the franchising business, including:

  • How franchising differs from other businesses
  • How to write a business plan and obtain funding
  • How to build a franchise by recruiting, hiring and retaining employees
  • How to lead by modeling the qualities of a successful franchise leader
  • How to manage and measure operational components of franchising
  • How to implement successful practices to ensure continued growth

Students also will benefit from 360-degree support by networking with fellow entrepreneurs in their cohort and extending their network through a national board of professional advisors.

Cordell Riley, a franchising expert with nearly 30 years of experience, teaches the Franchise Certification program. His goal is to help create entrepreneurs that will leverage the American entrepreneurial spirit to make a difference in their communities.

“We want to show the next generation of entrepreneurs how they can be in business for themselves, but not by themselves,” he said.

To become a franchiser or franchisee and build your own business as your own boss while being part of something bigger, enroll in the Franchise Certification program today.


Scott McNutt, senior business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu