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How Franchising Can Work for Women

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Franchising gives you the key ingredients for a business. Photo cc. Victor Rosenfeld via Flickr

Franchises can be a great foothold into the business world, especially in these tough economic times. The power behind such an idea is that a locally-run business, with the support and recognised branding of a wider company network, will help the fledgling enterprise to succeed when others may not.

It is a business model which is increasingly appealing to women: 39% of new franchisees in 2010 were female, compared with only 21% in 2003.

What’s more, franchisors are calling out for more women to be involved in the industry. The European Commission Social Fund is helping to fund the British Franchise Association (BFA), with the expressed purpose of promoting franchising to groups that are currently under-represented in the market. Women are being seen as a key audience by the BFA.

Franchisors look for work experience, especially marketing and sales. But self-motivation and a willingness to work hard will often trump the need for qualifications and direct work experience in the parent company’s eyes.

Also, while hard work will be essential for a successful franchise, that doesn’t mean that you will be tied down at the office or store all day. Many franchises, in fact, offer the opportunity for women to supplement their family income while maintaining flexible working hours. It is not necessarily a choice of one or the other.

Financially, franchises can be seen as a good investment too. The major banks tend to be highly supportive of franchises, especially considering the proven structure of such enterprises. While you will have to make an initial investment, which is not guaranteed, around 92% of all British franchises reported that they were profitable in the last year.

A franchisee will have to follow the franchisor’s formula for the business. However, it’s a plan that’s already proven to be successful. As the manager, you would still be able to govern the enterprise as you see fit as long as you keep within the parent company’s guidelines. This is still a considerable amount of everyday freedom, with the franchisor’s rules operating in a way to keep the business moving in the right direction, with support readily available.

Here are my top tips to make the most of a franchise opportunity:

Know your financials

It is important to keep tabs of just where every penny for your business is spent. This need not necessarily be a chore although some ledgers will be needed. Understanding the financials will help your business to be able to grow and work towards the targets that you set. This need not be something you have to do yourself as business partners, mentors and, if need be, professional accountants can be of use. Many franchisors will offer help as part of their support.

Work with like-minded people

When starting a franchise, it will help to get to know a number of people who are in a similar boat. These could be other franchise holders or small business owners. A network of trusted individuals can help with finances, marketing or managing vendors. Taking on a franchise will often mean entering such a network readymade, which can be a great asset to your business.

Studies have found that successful businesses tend to have large networking groups, so it may be worth attending a few local meetings to meet like-minded individuals. Pick a group to attend that will help with your needs, and be sure to ask questions and develop a quick ‘elevator’ pitch about your business that will leave them wanting more.

Manage, don’t rule

Occasionally, you may have to make important decisions about your business that may affect staff or the way the company is run. However, don’t put these choices off, hoping that they will somehow resolve themselves. While you will ultimately make the tough decision, it may help to speak to your employees and listen to their opinions. After, you can make an informed choice that will be good for them but best for your business. Again, by being part of a franchise, assistance will be on hand.

Don’t fear failure

Importantly, taking on a new business or franchise does take effort and there will be tough days. However, by keeping a clear head and summing up the possibilities and consequences of dilemmas, you can work through your problems one step at a time. After all, the benefits of being your own boss will make the odd tough day more than worth it.

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