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updated 3/1/2012 10:50:03 AM ET 2012-03-01T15:50:03

In a time when many business owners are struggling just to survive, a few dare to set their sights on expansion through franchising. The 56 companies on our list of Top New Franchises took that dare, and it has paid off. Though all of them started franchising in just the last five years, they've proved their mettle and managed to rank in Entrepreneur's 2012 Franchise 500® against some stiff--and much older--competition.

The newcomers also provide a glimpse into what's hot in franchising right now. When it comes to food, burger restaurants and frozen yogurt shops prove popular, with four companies making the list in each category. Fitness and health-related franchises also continue to perform well. Personal-care businesses, especially those providing necessary services such as senior care, are thriving.

But don't count out vanity, especially when it can be appeased at an affordable price: No. 1 on the list is Spanish import No Más Vello, which has grown to more than 1,000 centers worldwide by offering "painless" hair removal for a low flat fee ($49 in the U.S.).

This list is not intended as an endorsement of any particular franchise. The only way to find out if you should invest in an opportunity is to do your research. Carefully read the company's legal documents, consult with attorneys and accountants and talk to as many franchisees as you can.

View the Top New Franchises List »

This article originally posted on Entrepreneur.com

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.

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