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Women in business: The advice any new franchisee should know

Women in business: The advice any new franchisee should know

Entrepreneurs from across the industry explain how a franchise business model has enabled them to take their career to new heights, and how others can follow in their footsteps

In 2022, just over 20% of all new companies in the UK were female-led, according to parliament research. Meanwhile in 2023, the gender pay gap was very much present, reported by ONS at 7.7%. Here, we speak to women who’ve used a franchising model to forge a successful path in business, while gaining more autonomy over their careers. They share their challenges, wins, and best practices for entrepreneurs hoping to follow in their footsteps.


“You never know what you’ll achieve unless you take the leap”

Ros Wiggins, franchisee at didi rugby, Stone & Stafford

Finding coaches who can lead sessions and also be the face of the brand can be challenging because it’s 100% personality-based and can’t really be taught (or not easily in my experience). I play a lot by the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ school of teaching, so I try to model the behaviour I want to see from my coaches and follow this up with feedback and suggestions. My proudest moment has been hitting the £2000 per month revenue mark. This was a real step up for me as a sole franchisee and head coach. It means that my customers believe in what I do and are on the journey with me. Being able to grow the business has enabled me to swap working full time and doing Didi Rugby on the side, to focusing on the brand full time and expand even further. You never know what you’ll achieve unless you take the leap. With franchising, you’ve got a team behind you to help and support, they don’t succeed without you, so they’re as invested as you are.


“Get advice from someone already doing the business you’re doing”

Abbie Akinfenwa, franchisee at Pink Spaghetti

The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been when a client hasn’t paid me. I never recovered the money but put a process in place to prevent that from happening again. I don’t think being a woman has been a factor that’s affected my experience as a franchisee. People need things done and as long as they’re done to the timeline and quality expected, most do not care one way or the other. So far, the proudest moment in my business has been reaching the end of my first year. I never thought I’d be able to do it, so that was a highlight for me. Now, my career aspirations are to continue growing my business organically and developing other means of passive income. If you’re a franchisee starting out, I would suggest getting advice from someone already doing the business you’re aiming to do.


“Do your due diligence”

Jane Hotz, franchisee at The Cat Butler Radlett

This is my first experience as a franchisee, having come out of the corporate retail world, which I spent 36 years in. I’m discovering the benefits of being a franchisee. Make sure that the franchise you want to buy is going to give you the long term success, and the long term satisfaction that you’re looking for in your next career move. If there’s one part of the business that isn’t your passion, it’s not going to work. Also, do your due diligence and don’t rush the decision. Make sure you’ve looked at every aspect of the business: the owner of the franchise, how much support you’ll get, and the financials. Talk to other franchisees within the franchise so that you can get their honest opinion of how the business operates. Finally, just go for it, follow your gut, follow your passion, and it will be the best decision you’ll make.


“Seek opportunities out”

Claire Rushton-Plant, franchisee at MiniMe Mindfulness, Staffordshire and Derbyshire

I think like many women, the impact of having children on my career has been immense. This is why I’ve moved to running my own business, allowing me some flexibility to support my children. My biggest challenge has been the steep learning curve when it comes to the business side of things. I left a career in teaching after almost 20 years in the classroom so delivering sessions to children, their families, and schools comes as second nature to me. However, tax, social media, and invoicing have been new skills I’ve needed to learn. I think until you get that first booking you’ll always have a little voice of doubt that will question whether you’ve made the right choice. Don’t sit and wait for opportunities to come to you, seek opportunities out. Yet at the same time be patient with your progress. It will take time to make connections, raise your profile, and build your client portfolio.


“Your business should be something that excites you”

Caron Kelly, franchisee at Little Voices, West Kent

The motherhood and career juggling act is really difficult and it’s frustrating that the expectation to do and be everything is on us. I started my business in September with three after-school clubs and my centre is continuing to grow. I have gone from six students to 60 children accessing a variety of Little Voices Classes, so I’m pretty proud of that. However, juggling full time work around my new business has been a challenge so I’ve decided to leave full time teaching and concentrate on my business from April. Now the goal is to grow my business and live life on my terms. Your career should be fulfilling and not just pay the bills. I’m so grateful I’ve found something I love and get to see children flourish. I think working for yourself gives you the motivation to succeed, I have such a supportive network in Little Voices. Go and find the right network for you. Your business should be something that excites you and that passion and consistency will get you the results you want.


“Look at the steps you need to take to get to your goal”

Rebecca Lomax, franchisee at Puddle Ducks, Norfolk and Suffolk

Before expanding my business, I had imposter syndrome, which affected my confidence when it came to running Puddle Ducks, Norfolk and Suffolk. However, I didn’t let that stop me. I proactively sought mindset coaching along with the support of Puddle Ducks’ Head Office and my team, so I was able to pursue my expansion dreams. There will always be obstacles in life, but it’s how we approach them and overcome them that matters. If you have a goal you want to achieve, look at the steps you need to take to get there and don’t be afraid to ask for support if you need it. That’s the beauty of joining a franchise, you’ll always have the backing and support of the franchisor who will be there to guide you to success - whether that’s through training and resources, or often just a phone call to talk something through.

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Start your own Puddle Ducks franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

N/A

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“It’s about confidence, ability, and attitude”

Vikki Donnachie, franchisor at Merry Maids

Covid was one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. When the pandemic first hit everyone was just trying to find their way through, some businesses were forced to cease trading. This was a huge learning curve and it has certainly changed how we all work. I have proven to myself that even through the toughest of times, we must learn to embrace changes and make the most of the resources and technology that we have available to us. Our businesses expanded through this time, proving that with the right can-do attitude and thinking outside the box, you can achieve anything. There are certainly plenty of fantastic opportunities available within franchising for women. For me it’s about confidence, ability, and attitude. When I entered the franchising sector it was a predominantly male environment however the industry has changed, and if you have the desire to be successful along with ambition and drive you will succeed in whatever environment you wish. My career aspirations are to continue building and supporting our growing network of franchisees.


“Have confidence and trust in your abilities”

Shilpi Verma, franchisee at Walfinch, Harrow & Brent

Running your own business means keeping on top of the finances. That’s easier as a franchisee than for someone alone in business because your franchise manager can help with financial management and planning. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining carers is challenging, but I’m tackling it by creating a positive culture which increases employee satisfaction. Have confidence and trust in your abilities. Sometimes you’ll experience self-doubt because in business it’s inevitable at times. For instance, I wondered if I could reach a turnover of one million - but then I did. Also, build a good support network around you. A franchise comes with a built-in network of other franchisees, whose support is invaluable, but it also helps to have support from experts in your community, such as community nurses. I’m co-chair of the care sector workforce intelligence organisation, Skills for Care, in Harrow and Brent, so I keep in touch with many people working in care in the local area.

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Start your own Walfinch franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

£585,077

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“The only obstacle you’ll face is yourself”

Angelina Mouralidarane, commercial director at Iceking Group

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is the limitations I’ve placed on myself for being a female leader, business owner, wife, and mum. I’ve had this notion of having to do more than my male counterpart at any meeting, presentation, or review, just to justify my seat at the table – but it was exactly that, a mere notion. I soon realised that what earns you a seat at the table is your ability to perform regardless of background and gender; the franchise network has done a very good job of trying to level the playing field. Ultimately, the only obstacle you’ll face is yourself. If you work relentlessly, stay focused and commit to achieving your goals you absolutely will succeed regardless of gender. Inequalities will continue to exist, but it’s how you navigate around them that’s more important than the inequality itself. I’m aiming to build a multi-generational business across different sectors and global markets. I hope to inspire, educate, and mentor women in business and franchising.


“Don’t be afraid that you’ll be on your own”

Kim Emmett-Gidney, franchisee at Safeclean, High Wycombe

I’ve pushed myself to work hard physically and mentally to overcome challenges along the way and, most importantly, learn from them. I think the biggest challenge has been believing in myself and knowing that I do a good job to a high standard. What’s helped me with this is having a regular client base, and obtaining new clients through recommendations. This just proves that if I wasn’t doing good a job then my clients wouldn’t have me back. I also believe that ongoing training is very important, so I’m always updating, and improving my skills. I’m the only female specialist within my network and this was quite isolating at first. Don’t feel that because an industry is male dominated it isn’t for you or you can’t do it, it’s only perceived as a man’s job because it’s a hard graft with the equipment etc. But if you aren’t afraid of hard work then you are just as good as the rest of them. You’ll also be surprised at the amount of support you get from your network support team.

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Start your own Safeclean franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

N/A

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“Above everything, trust your gut”

Georgina Broadhurst, franchisee at Just Shutters, Surrey

The cost-of-living crisis has meant customers are looking for the keenest price, while our margins are being squeezed. I have a lot of data available to help drive efficiencies in the business, analyse cost and margin, and protect profits, all while delivering high levels of service and customer satisfaction. I’d advise other women hoping to follow in my footsteps to do their research, ask ALL the questions, talk to a wide variety of relevant stakeholders, and then analyse the data that’s available. But over and above everything, trust your gut. I also put a lot of thinking into how best to reach our customers, what’s important to them, and how to keep them coming back for more. It’s paid off; we have very high levels of repeat business and referrals.

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Start your own Just Shutters Business franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

£50,000 - £100,000 profit

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“Always be open and transparent with those around you”

Joanna Askew, franchisee at Conexus Tuition, Colchester

There will always be unforeseen obstacles - some you can plan for and some you can’t. I’ve learned how important it is to be aware of your customer base, the changing demographics of your market area, and adapting your business plan, while sticking to your values. My biggest challenges have been keeping the faith, maintaining a positive mindset, and knowing my worth. I was in a permission-driven industry previously, and at times very little autonomy was given. We had to continually justify outcomes at the expense of planning time. As a franchisee, the opposite is true. In a world where we place too much value on competition, winning and losing, and status, have faith in yourself and value others. My business will continue to support families in our community, and I intend to expand my team, open more venues and win more contracts. Think about the ethos you want to create and lead by example. Keep focusing on the ‘why’ – what is the real purpose of your business? Use visualisation techniques and keep a gratitude journal. Always be open and transparent with those around you, showing vulnerability isn’t always a bad thing.


“Don’t waste time and energy constantly comparing yourself to others”

Rebecca Newenham, franchisor at Get Ahead

People have been my biggest challenge and over time I’ve clearly recognised that not everyone is your right client or franchisee, and that’s absolutely fine. Keep your eye on the prize, follow your own journey and don’t waste time and energy constantly comparing yourself to others. This is your life and you must choose the right path for you. Launching my first franchise in Leeds has to be one of my proudest moments – it’s over 200 miles away from Guildford where I am based, so to see Fiona, my franchisee, take our brand and start her business journey without me being there was awesome. I’ve now started mentoring business owners over the past two years, which I love. I’m also a franchise consultant which fits perfectly alongside my franchisor role. In addition, I’m hoping to train as a humanist celebrant later this year so I can conduct naming ceremonies.

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

Assuming you have grown a team to...


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“Franchising can be a less risky and more accessible way to start a business”

Fiona Mackenzie, franchisee at Mathnasium, Richmond

With little knowledge of starting up a franchise, I particularly struggled with the set-up stages, from sourcing funding and acquiring a premises to managing a team of builders during the fit-out stages. I was very fortunate to have the ongoing support of the head office team, who were able to advise and mentor throughout the initial phases. Additionally, balancing the demands of running a franchise business with family and personal responsibilities can be challenging for women in franchising. However, following initial hard work, the business has been successful very quickly, and in time this will allow me to manage my own work schedule and balance personal responsibilities. I managed to surpass my expected growth by the end of year two in just six months. After just seven months, I’m already hoping to complete on a second site, which is both exciting and scary at the same time. Franchising can be a less risky and more accessible way to start a business compared to building a business from scratch.

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Start your own Mathnasium franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

N/A

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“Get someone who can teach you the ropes”

Lucy Long, franchisee at WPA Healthcare Partners

When I started my franchisee business 15 years ago, starting out with zero customers was the biggest challenge. The help now available for new franchisees is phenomenal. For example, WPA Healthcare Partners now has an academy to teach new-joiners. Get someone experienced like me to teach you the ropes or buy an existing portfolio (as we all hope to retire eventually) and listen to advice. Within our franchise, it’s typical that there will be an agreement to stay on for a year with the new franchisee to help with the handover. People buy from people in the financial advice arena, especially in health insurance, and I believe encouraging a wider range of people to become franchisees is better for the customer. Currently, my Trustpilot rating is consistently five stars and I’ve had more than 100+ reviews in the past year, which I’m very proud of. However, moving forward, I’d like to semi-retire to celebrate time following my cancer recovery and work with other franchisees to help them avoid common pitfalls.

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Start your own WPA Healthcare Practice PLC franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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N/A

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“Don’t think you have to know it all”

Nicola Adams, franchisor at Full of Beans Fitness

My children were very young when I created the Full of Beans model and a lot of the people around me thought it would be a “fun job while the children are young and at school”. I was actually asked by one of the dad’s at school if I’d got a “proper” job yet when I bumped into him a couple of years ago and was delighted to tell him how far we had come, how many children we support, and how many areas of the UK he could find Full of Beans franchises. I think the biggest challenge as a smaller business owner is mastering so many of areas yourself, as you can’t afford to pay external people initially. I enrolled on many courses in the run up to starting the business so I knew I could master the basics and then I’ve honestly never stop learning because things change so quickly, especially with technology. Don’t think you have to know it all - take all the support and advice you can get. Don’t worry if you make a mistake, these are lessons to learn from along the way, we have all made them - you will improve.

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Start your own Full of Beans Fitness & Sports Coaching franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

£62,000

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Exciting Franchise Opportunities

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Start your own No Letting Go franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

N/A

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Post & Packing logo

Start your own Post & Packing franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

265,000

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Start your own Blam Partners franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

At least £8,000

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Start your own PACK & SEND franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

N/A

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Start your own N.Bar franchise

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Funding Support Available ? Help is available. Check out our franchising funds guide.

Yes

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Expected Revenue After 2 Years

N/A

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