More and more parents are turning to franchising as they search for flexible work opportunities
I’m a mum of two and even though my children are now teenagers, each day of the school holidays presents a new set of challenges as I try to balance work and business with keeping the two of them happy and entertained - which isn’t always easy given the unpredictable British weather.
When I speak to other franchisors - not just in my own industry of children’s activities, but in other fields too - many report a significant increase in enquiries from prospective franchisees during the school holidays, particularly from parents with young families. And that’s not surprising when you think about it.
Constant juggling act
So many parents become stressed and disillusioned by the constant juggling act of trying to balance work with children and home life and many traditional or corporate job roles don’t offer the flexibility parents crave to make it possible, or often even cost-effective, to work around family life. Although many employers are making changes to accommodate the increasing demands of parents, it seems there is still a long way to go.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that so many parents are reaching for Google, dreaming of ditching the 9 to 5 and looking to become masters of their own destiny. I should know, as I’ve been there myself.
I left behind the security of the legal profession as I struggled to maintain the balance I wanted between my career as a lawyer and my role as the primary carer of two young children to start my own business running art classes for babies and children so I could work flexibly around them. My own personal motivation was that I wanted to be able to do the school run every day and knew my previous role would never allow me to do this.
Why does franchising attract parents?
So the rise of the ‘parentpreneur’ is well documented. But what is it about the franchise industry that attracts parents looking to launch their own ventures, with the aim of developing and growing a business around life at home?
Financial considerations are one of the major factors drawing parents towards the franchise model. Generally speaking, investing in a franchise is seen as a safer financial undertaking than going it alone. As a franchisee, you’re joining an established brand with a track record and proven business model. Many parents, if they have young dependents at home, are likely to have a more cautious approach to investment, so this immediately makes a franchise opportunity an attractive proposition.
And as you’re joining a brand where the product or service is already developed and the systems and procedures are already in place, you’ll be up and running and taking cash into the business far more quickly than if you were starting from scratch and having to go through all the various development stages. Again, this is hugely attractive to parents who more than likely will have significant financial obligations each month and income needs to be replaced pretty quickly.
The supportive and cooperative nature of a good franchise brand model is also likely to appeal to many would-be parentpreneurs.
Starting a new business is like having a new baby. It requires a lot of time, attention and nurturing to grow and thrive. Having the additional challenges of raising a family alongside starting that business means time and resources are limited.
Therefore, having the support of a community you can rely on for advice and support, especially when problems inevitably arise, is invaluable. Having the backing of a franchise network can mean the often daunting leap into the world of self-employment can seem a lot less scary.
Women want to be their own boss
Drilling down into the parentpreneur statistics, there has been a significant rise in women looking to launch their own businesses.
Service-based franchises, in particular, appear to attract a higher proportion of females. Such franchise opportunities are likely to involve a lower capital investment, but often allow a significant proportion of home working, together with the flexibility to set hours and appointments around child and home care commitments.
Working at home allows many parents to spend more time with their children during school holidays while still working and might even mean they can keep young children out of childcare.
Building any business while caring for or sharing the care of children is a challenge. I personally believe there’s no such thing as a perfect work-life balance and that as individuals and parents we have to decide on what our needs and priorities are and then see if we can build something that meets as many of these as possible.
Starting a business, especially a franchise business, may well allow many budding parentpreneurs to achieve the flexibility they’re seeking in terms of working around caring commitments, but that’s not to say it will always be an easy ride. And that’s where the benefit of having a franchise network behind you comes into play.
Given the fact many parents not only have a wealth of experience from their previous careers to bring to the table, but also the skills of multitasking we develop as parents, we as franchisors can most certainly benefit from having parentpreneurs within our franchise networks.
Fiona Simpson is the founder and managing director of ARTventurers. She was named Woman Franchisor of the Year 2018 in the EWIF Awards