Why it’s imperative to find your sisterhood in the franchise world
“When women support each other, incredible things happen.” Society has taught us to compete, compare, undermine, undercut, trash talk, tear down, and to judge other women. Imagine a world where it is normal for women to support and empower one another. Does this sound like an unrealistic utopian situation? Nope, you can find these wonder women in the entrepreneurial world of franchising. The saying, “empowered women, empower other women,” is widespread and omnipresent in franchising.
Women in franchising have changed rather dramatically over the past few decades. Nearly 25 years ago, I happened to fall into the world of franchising and subsequently fell in love with franchising itself. I was still in college, wide-eyed and full of enough enthusiasm to conquer the world.
I had changed my path from becoming an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to ‘not quite sure what yet’. I took a position with a US-based company that sent me off to the UK where I helped open their UK operations. After spending a year in the UK, I was ready to return home. I started working for an emerging franchisor and we grew from 13 locations to over 500 in the US and expanded into five other countries.
No longer a boys’ club
It was when I worked with Dan Martin at IFX Online that I really became part of the franchise world and the ‘good old boys club’. Back in the early 2000s, there were not a lot of women in franchising, and fewer yet in the technology sector. Franchising was predominantly male-dominated. While I do love working with men, it was a bit lonely being one of few women in the industry early in my career.
I didn’t have any female mentors to assist me when I started my journey into the wilds of franchising, so I was grateful that the ‘good old boys club’ took me under their wing. I met so many fantastic, motivating, and inspiring people; all of whom I now call my franchise family. The friends you make in the franchise industry will likely turn into the closest family-like friends you will ever have.
Today, however, there are so many wonderful and empowering women in the franchise space – many of whom I am fortunate to call my friends. We are more than friends, really; like family, we are a sisterhood. We unconditionally support and empower each other. It is only with each other that we can be open, frank, emotional, vulnerable, and completely raw. This is where the magic happens!
Personally, I didn’t realize just how important having a wolf pack was until I found mine, an incredible group of women who have each other’s backs – no matter what. When I hit a creative block while writing this article I reached out to them for insight.
As female entrepreneurs and leaders, we have to stand strong and be the rock for everyone: our businesses, employees, franchisees, romantic partners, and our children. There are many people that look to us for a variety of reasons: leadership, passion, experience, knowledge, courage, compassion, support; the list goes on and on.
“The friends you make in the franchise industry will likely turn into the closest family-like friends you will ever have”
We bust through age-old stereotypes, balancing business and family life as we pioneer a path forward through uncharted waters. All while maintaining the values that are the driving force behind what we do every day and why we do it. Who else can listen, understand all of that, and be able to give you actionable advice without judgement? It is with our entrepreneur sisterhood that we can lower our walls, show our insecurities, our fears, and vulnerabilities in a way that you cannot with anyone else. No one understands you like another female entrepreneur.
Five reasons it is imperative to find sisterhood
1. Support, encourage and challenge:
They are your biggest fans, friends and sounding boards. They genuinely care about you and your success. They will encourage you, educate you, validate you, and lift you up. They will help challenge and support you in becoming your best version of yourself.
2. Connections, connections, connections:
Your girl group are your trusted connectors. They help you build your network by introducing you to people you should know; other smart, talented, and like-minded supporting women (and men, too). With these women you can share knowledge, experiences, best practices, help each other grow, and achieve individual and business success.
3. Safe and secure space:
Here, no one is judging or competing with you. You can ask those ‘stupid and intimidating questions’. Then you find out that there are no stupid questions after all. Most everyone has similar challenges, questions, concerns, and pain points. They can help open your mind to new ideas and possibilities. In this space, you can open up, let your guard down and get creative. Together, you see alternative ways of looking at a situation and find unique solutions to challenges.
4. Guidance and expectations:
Your sister group will help guide you and set realistic expectations. Having ‘been there and done that’, they will be able to help shorten the learning curve and in turn, avoid frustration and potentially costly mistakes. If one doesn’t know the answer she will be sure to point you in the right direction or connect you with someone who does.
5. Camaraderie, loyalty, and celebration:
When one of your sisters wins, you win, too! Every time a woman succeeds in business, your chance of success increases exponentially. You have a built-in cheering squad. There is nothing better than toasting to one of your crew’s successes. How fun is that?
As the years have passed, more and more women have become an integral part of franchising. Now there are many powerful and wonderful women in all aspects of franchising. I am eternally grateful for all my many franchise family friends. The best part of it is how everyone supports each other, unconditionally and without judgment. Women empowering other women – it’s a beautiful thing to see, and it is truly amazing and heartwarming to be a part of. After all, we are stronger together.
Sally Facinelli is a veteran of the franchise industry, having worked in numerous senior roles for over two decades. Her most recent position is as an advisor to Consumer Fusion, a franchise brand reputation management organisation.