The Perfect Fit: Women & Franchising

An interesting combination of factors at this time in history may be the reason so many women are turning to franchising to fulfill their entrepreneurial desires. Women's increased financial power, better education, and corporate experience, combined with their desire for more autonomy and desire to connect with others who share their values make franchising a great fit for many women.

Women are better educated now than ever. They have accumulated considerable corporate experience. After years in the corporate world they are tired of being locked into super-human schedules which often include brutal hours and travel obligations. They have grown weary of corporate politics, the corporate craziness of power struggles and meaningless competitive games. They are bored with unchallenging positions. They long for greater autonomy, flexibility and control of their schedules. They begin to hear that entrepreneurial voice, saying "You're smarter and more capable than 90% of the management team ? why not use your talents to run your own show?" or, "I've paid my dues and now it's time to do work that I love, work that feeds my soul." or, "Why am I working myself to a frazzle to build equity in someone else's business? Why not build equity in my own?"

But women can also feel a note of caution about business ownership. They might begin to wonder if starting their own business will be even more demanding than working for someone else. They may have heard horror stories of entrepreneurs that worked day and night with little financial reward. Or they wonder if they would miss the companionship of working with colleagues; they want to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves. They want to be business owners, and at the same time they want to be faithful to family relationships and responsibilities. Whether single or married, they don't want to take an unreasonable risk that could negatively effect their family or their security. Franchising can often be the perfect fit.

Several characteristics unique to franchising make it tremendously appealing to women. By nature women are relational, they generally enjoy, in fact crave, opportunities to work with others toward a shared goal. Women like to connect at a deeper level, to feel that bond of shared experience. Experiencing something in common with others is rewarding at a deep level. Becoming a part of a franchise system meets this need. It offers women a way to be connected with like-minded souls ? you have a built in team of franchise owners with whom you can connect. You're not alone. Once you sign the franchise agreement, you become a part of a community.

Starting any business is a risk, but buying a franchise mitigates that risk for many women. Buying a franchise means you are purchasing a proven model, along with training and operations systems that have been tested and validated. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Because it's a proven model it often accelerates the start-up phase, when a business can tax even the most energetic entrepreneur. You don't spend months or years wondering if you'll "make it." You have the confidence that if you follow the plan, the training, the systems, you are highly likely to succeed.

Franchising may help you be move more quickly to becoming profitable. There are two primary functions in any business ? the developmental function and the implementation function. With a franchise, the entire business concept development cycle has been completed (not to mention paid for) by the franchisor. Once you purchase a franchise, you start right in with the implementation cycle. The majority of your time can be spent on obtaining and keeping customers, not on determining what customers really want and how to provide it. Imagine how many months or years it would take you to come up with your own viable concept -- the product, the services, the pricing, the financial targets, the staffing plan, the entire marketing package, the materials, the website, the sales plan, the sales scripts, and everything else involved in creating a business ? perfecting everything as you go along, at the same time you're trying to generate business to pay for the development cycle. Franchising launches you quickly into generating income. You have completely developed and tested products and services to sell. You have branding systems, marketing materials, and operational processes completely developed for your immediate implementation. Very likely, you'll have access to a website. Yes, you have to get your own customers; yes you have to work hard; yes, you have to be networked in your own community. But you can begin making the business work immediately and move more quickly to being profitable.

Which brings us back to not being alone ? your franchisor wants to see you succeed. Franchising gives you access to people who know what it's like to walk in your shoes who are invested in your success. Most franchisors provide initial training and ongoing mentoring through a variety of means. When you aren't sure how to handle a certain situation, you can pick up the phone and call someone who has been there and done that. When you have an exciting success, you can pick up the phone and call someone who will be celebrating with you.

For many women, franchising is a perfect fit and the most congruent way to listen to that entrepreneurial voice.

© 2005 Darcie Harris

Darcie Harris is co-founder of EWF International®, an Oklahoma based firm providing peer advisory groups for women business owners and executives. EWF International® franchises are available throughout the Southwest. View this article and others at

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