The number of women finding entrepreneurial success has been rising. Here’s what four successful women have to say about their experiences as Minuteman Press franchise owners, as well as their tips and advice for others who might want to go into business for themselves…
As more people come to realize that the corporate climate today still is afflicted with downsizing and the accompanying threat of being laid off, franchising becomes even more appealing to entrepreneurs. Additionally, savvy female entrepreneurs are discovering that there are no “glass ceilings” when you are the boss of your own enterprise. A solid franchise opportunity provides the chance at the kind of financial security and lifestyle flexibility that is often elusive to the corporate employee. For these reasons and more, an increasing number of women are taking time to review new or existing franchise opportunities and wisely investing in the best among them.
Ruthann DiLauri, owner of Minuteman Press in Orlando, Florida, successfully climbed to a respected leadership position in the corporate world, and then made the decision to strike out as an entrepreneur. She confirms the link between franchise ownership and increased flexibility beyond what corporate employment provides. She knows that women who are willing to put the great energy into their businesses can achieve the kind of stability they desire through a partnership with a leading franchisor.
Ruthann explains, “Fifteen years ago when I was a corporate sales executive, I was looking for an opportunity to own a business. I wanted to set my own goals and control my own destiny. I think this is the reason why many people buy a franchise. Franchises are particularly appealing to many businesswomen because a franchise provides not only the opportunity to control your direction but also the flexibility to manage all aspects of your life at same time. In the corporate world, that flexibility is difficult to find. Franchising is very appealing to women who are looking for financial stability and flexibility (in exchange for a lot of hard work!)”.
There is some data to confirm that the number of women taking command as owners of their own franchises is rising at a steady pace. Evidence that women are taking the franchise model and using it to create a fantastically healthy personal and professional life comes from organizations such as the Small Business Association which has been monitoring the rising activity of women in franchising for at least 4 decades. Other studies confirm that business women from all over the world are assuming command of their careers through new and existing franchise opportunities.
- SBA revealed that 10% of “all companies established between 1975 and 2000 were women-owned franchises,” according to one study by SBA.
- Around 5 years ago, the International Franchise Association determined the percentage of female franchise owners was around 25% NOT including another 17% operating within the franchise world with partners who are men.
It is safe to say that the number at which women are starting their own businesses has been steadily rising since the 1970s and more intrepid businesswomen are electing to sign franchise agreements and are increasingly happy they did so.
Achieving Franchise Success as a Business Owner, Wife and Mother in South Africa
Magda Barnard, multi-unit franchise owner of Minuteman Press in Nelspruit, South Africa acknowledges that the franchise ownership takes sacrifice and concentrated effort, but that it is worth it for women who wish to strike a balance between raising children and tending to a growing business. She explains, “I have been in a Minuteman Press franchise for nearly 18 years. We had 3 boys (aging 9, 7 and 2 years) when we started the business in 1998 and I was pregnant with our fourth son. For a start this was a difficult situation to be in. We also relocated in order to open our Minuteman Press franchise. Yet, I have never regretted our decision to become part of the Minuteman Press family.”
Magda adds, “Being a woman, my first responsibility is my family, and being part of the Minuteman Press franchise made me feel part of a bigger family. Although I am not a single owner as I run our 3 locations with my husband, I had to learn to operate in an environment that traditionally has been a “man’s world”.
Magda further reflects on her entrepreneurial journey, relishing all of her well-earned accomplishments and success in business:
“Looking back over these years I can honestly say that being a woman in this franchise allowed me to make a difference in ensuring that we could grow the business successfully and ultimately be part of the Minuteman Press International President’s Club for top performers. As do many other women, I have the strong ability to organize, prioritize and multi-task. A further benefit is my attention to detail, which I believe is an important characteristic to have when buying and managing a Minuteman Press franchise. I also believe any women who have the ability to make a quick decision and who can improvise and adapt when necessary will find that Minuteman Press is the franchise where they can grow to their full potential. Women normally are known for having good communication skills and therefore can coordinate well with other people and get a better understanding of the customer’s needs. I feel only a woman can quickly pacify an irate customer and still ensure that they place another order. I had to learn not to take no for an answer and to find alternative ways to solve a problem efficiently.”
She concludes, “Minuteman Press has offered me the opportunity to reach our dreams for our business, knowing that my role as a woman has been a cornerstone in this business.”
Some might consider the differences between the sexes to be a delicate topic, but there is some truth to the fact that characteristics inherent to women offer some advantages as franchisees. For instance, many women are naturally collaborative and invest themselves into the process of nurturing relationships that are mutually beneficial, a major plus when it comes to getting the most out of ties with both clients as well as the franchisor (who operates as a silent partner, in many ways).
- Minuteman Press franchise owner Ruthann DiLauri reflects on networking and organizing strengths among her peers: “As we all know, networking or marketing is the cornerstone to growth as a franchise owner. Many of the most successful women that I know in business are not only great ‘networkers’ but they are also very organized. These two skill sets are a great start to success when owning a franchise.”
The franchise world is expansive for women today
With boosts coming from organizations such as the Association of Women Business Centers and the SBA in the form of mentoring programs, seminars, workshops and even funding assistance, women interested in embarking upon franchise ownership find themselves with opportunities that are expanding. Also, it may have seemed that options in terms of industry were limited to the beauty, food service or health franchise opportunities, but today variety is something hard-working, driven female entrepreneurs can enjoy. Now, there are stories of successful women applying the franchise model within a wide range of sectors. It is an exciting time, indeed, in terms of choice as they take on the challenge of building a rewarding franchise venture. And don’t think that forward-thinking franchisors don’t know this. They want the strength and leadership that today’s women can bring to their brands and that means women new to franchising need to select carefully.
Do women have advantages over men when it comes to succeeding in business?
It could be said that the answer is YES. A U.S.-based business coaching firm, Entrepreneur’s Source, indicates that women “naturally excel in 3 key skill areas” that give them a distinct edge: Initiative, Communication and Emotional Intelligence.
- Practical tip for female entrepreneurs on the cusp of franchise ownership from multi-unit Minuteman Press franchisee Amy Steinman: “Being a woman-owned business has its fair share of economic possibilities (at least here in CT). I am considered a Minority Owned Small Business Enterprise, and that opens some doors for me for not only to generate business, but funding as well. A little digging and research needs to be done to find these opportunities, but they exist.”
Carla Wilson, owner of Minuteman Press in Farmington, MO, is gratified to be a powerful role model for her daughters and it paid off nicely for them as they grew into adulthood. She explains, “I bought and started my Minuteman franchise 25 years ago. At the time my daughters were 1 and 4 years old and I didn’t want to spend any “extra” time away from them than necessary. Buying a franchise gave me a way to jump right into a business without the time requirements that would have been necessary to start a business from scratch. My 4 year old daughter grew up watching me run my own business and went on to become an industrial engineer. My 1 year old daughter grew up and is now my production manager and will probably choose to take over for me one day. I am really happy that owning my Minuteman Press franchise allowed my daughters to grow up watching a woman succeed in a male-dominated profession. That was an added, unexpected bonus to franchise ownership.”
Amy Steinman is a multi-unit Minuteman Press franchise owner with locations in Hartford, Vernon, Manchester and Glastonbury, CT. She appreciates the benefits of being her own boss as compared to navigating the corporate scene. Amy shares, “Being a woman business owner has its challenges, but I can say there are no glass ceilings here. I will never be passed over for a job that I’m qualified for, and let’s be optimistic that that culture is already changing and progressing in corporate America.”
Many businesswomen are taking advantage of select franchise opportunities and applying their talents (both innate and hard-earned) to build efficiently running and thriving businesses, freeing themselves from the limits that have always existed in the traditional workforce. Amy states, “I feel like Minuteman Press International may be unique in that there are many women owners. I am sure I see more women when I walk into any Minuteman Press conference or meeting than I do when I walk into one of the very many networking (or other) meetings that I attend regularly in my business community.”
With superior multi-tasking skills, a heightened ability to detect subtle nuances in communicating with others and many other tools under their belts vital to entrepreneurial success, women are tapping into their natural strengths as business leaders. A great number of them are combining those natural strengths with their own unique set of hard-earned professional skills and unstoppable ambition to create flourishing franchise success stories.
Ultimately, four decades of increasing numbers prove that women continue to apply dedicated energy and perseverance into their careers as exemplary franchise owners. And undoubtedly, they are taking franchising to the heights they were designed for while enjoying the benefits of business ownership.
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