Pip Wilkins, Ceo of the British Franchise Association, explains why more women should make franchising their future
In researching women in business and franchising and looking at some basic statistics, I discovered women make up 51 per cent of the UK population, but only 17 per cent of the UK’s business owners. It seems men are twice as likely to start a business as women, but on a positive note 10 per cent of the female population are thinking of starting one.
For that reason, I wanted to explore why more women should consider franchising as a suitable option for their future.
We know franchising offers a proven business system with an established brand. There is the added advantage of being ‘in business for yourself, not by yourself’ because you have the back-up and support from the franchisor. But what makes it a particularly good fit for women?
Firstly, the flexibility it can offer to help get that work/life balance right. One of the great advantages of investing in a franchise is being your own boss and working on your terms. Whether a work/life balance is more time with a partner and/or children or just the freedom to drive your own agenda in your own way.
Franchising comes in all different shapes and sizes, with the flexibility to allow franchisees to drive their business forward and get the right balance and fit for them.
The number of women in franchising has been steadily rising over the past few decades, and why not? The skills and personality traits needed to be a successful franchisee - such as good organisation skills, an eye for detail and the capacity to prioritise well - are a perfect match for franchising.
A study conducted by Karren Brady highlighted that in the workplace women tend to be more organised than men and are better at meeting deadlines. So surely getting the balance right when trying, for example, to raise a family and run a business would be easier for a woman?
Science has shown women also have better communication skills and a higher emotional intelligence, which is a great trait to have in any franchise business. Because women tend to have evenly balanced left and right brain processing, they are intuitive and socially adept and can talk through issues and seek solutions in an effective way.
It also means we are more likely to ask for help and tap into the support available from the franchisor and network of other franchisees. We like expanding our horizons by learning and sharing information.
As good communicators, we are also good at building lasting relationships and maintaining them, which is key in building a viable business from both an employee and customer perspective. Longer-term relationships with customers and staff will mean less ups and downs in the business.
But we are more risk averse, which has both its advantages and disadvantages. From a franchising perspective, being more conservative with the finances and having a willingness to start small and grow is a great fit with building a thriving franchise business.
What are the barriers? It seems low self-confidence is the biggest obstacle. Being assertive and having self-confidence is an essential trait to be successful in any business. I generalise a bit when I say men overestimate themselves, while women underestimate their skills, but in franchising you have to deal with people, make decisions, plan your strategy, implement it and influence people along the way.
So maybe we as women need to power up our self-esteem, step out of our comfort zone a little more often and trust the fact we are competent, have a plan and will succeed.
There are a number of attractive reasons to join the franchise industry, including the great sense of community, the opportunity to have an influence in a growing sector and a chance to own and expand a business with no glass ceiling - you will be the top dog.
I believe that what makes franchising a good fit for women is similar to what makes it good for anyone, but the industry is no longer just a man’s world. More and more women are finding a home in franchising. Come and join the fun.