National Women's Small Business Month: Celebrating Female Franchisees and Franchisors

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With October being National Women's Small Business Month, we asked a few female franchisees from member organizations about their take on women in the workplace. We thank all women for their amazing contributions to the franchise industry.  

What would you say to other women who want to go into franchising?

Jeannie Fowle, Venture X Owner, Palm Beach Gardens-City Centre: I would tell women who are interested in franchising to consider the following:  are they willing to do whatever it takes to get a task done, have they been part of a team, but found themselves doing the brunt of the work and do they feel like they’ve been adequately recognized and compensated for these extra efforts? If they answer “yes” to those questions, perhaps they should consider becoming an entrepreneur. 

I don’t think someone will ever have the economy or autonomy they want if they work for someone else. The benefits of having a franchise is you can spend more of your time doing the actual activities of running your business rather than recreating the wheel. Additionally, you can often find the community of support among franchisees, and I feel women, in particular, thrive when they have a supportive business community.

Anjali Dighe, Code Ninjas Owner, Concord and Ballantyne, N.C: According to IFA, women owned 20.5 percent of franchises in 2007. That number increased to 27 percent of franchise locations in 2017. We have an opportunity to continue to shift the mindset and give our next generation of young, women leaders encouragement to take risks to start their own business.

Going into business is a risk that should be taken seriously. Many franchise colleagues I spoke with prior to buying into the Code Ninjas franchise gave me similar advice. If you are going into the franchising business, make sure you are passionate about what it is that you are doing because it is a full-time job. Know that you will put in a lot of hours, know that it may take you away from your family on certain days, know that you have to work hard to market yourself and your business. Is it hard work? Absolutely! Is it rewarding? Absolutely!

Sara Parrott, 30 Minute Hit Owner, Lubbock, Texas: I would say let go of any self-doubt, believe in yourself and your abilities and go for it! The wonderful thing about a franchise is that while you have your own business, you are not alone. There is so much guidance and support throughout the whole process, especially if you do your research and find a great one like I did. If managed correctly, you have the ability to have a work/life balance that best suits you. 

What made you choose the industry you are involved in?

Dighe: As pioneers in the Code Ninjas franchise, my husband and I saw this franchise as an opportunity. An opportunity to become a disrupter and fill a need in the educational industry. An opportunity to be able to contribute and give back to our community. And, an opportunity to be able to create extremely valuable skillsets and be able to contribute to the upward economic mobility for our next generation. I compared the franchise to two other franchises prior to committing, and I also created a deep-dive business plan and financial forecast. We also met with the leadership team so we could get to know the type of people and culture we were going to be a part of. Due diligence is extremely important when choosing the industry you are passionate about and a business community that you can become a part of.

Cathy Skula, Executive Vice President of Franchising, Rent-A-Center: I chose the rent-to-own industry and have remained in it for more than a quarter century. That’s because it has always provided me with professional growth and advancement opportunities, and because I care deeply about the cash-constrained customer we serve who would not have access to the name brand, household goods we provide if our industry did not exist.

What has been your greatest accomplishment with this establishment so far?

Fowle: It may sound cheesy, but the incredible relationships I have built since we started have been so rewarding. I’m not working with clients; I’m working with friends … how fun is that?! 

Parrott: My greatest accomplishment has been watching one of my members go through a complete transformation, both physically and mentally. This member joined the first week I opened. She comes to the HIT three or four times a week, working harder each day that she comes. When she first joined, she couldn't do the workout without stopping some in between each circuit. Now, she can go through the entire circuit and delivers so much power in her moves. She has a bigger smile on her face and enters the gym with so much more confidence. She is losing weight and gaining muscle, but most importantly she is having fun!

Seeing firsthand how this franchise can provide, not only an amazing workout, but also a place to be a part of a community of women that nourishes and motivates one another is so satisfying. 

What would you like to see in the future regarding growth among women in the workplace?

Dighe: I believe women have a responsibility (as much as men do) to showcase our ethics, our values, our professionalism, and our “give-back” to our communities, and more importantly to the younger generations. I led a very successful professional career prior to getting that entrepreneurial itch and buying into this franchise. I would love to continue to see women work together, thrive together, build communities of strength together, and showcase our knowledge, our spirit, and our pride to the next generation of young women. Let us tell our stories and build strong bridges to continue to work to close the gender wage gap.

Skula: I look forward to a day when we have so many women represented at all levels, including boards, we no longer need to mention how many there are.