Female entrepreneurs are on the rise. In 2018, 1,079,000 self-employed women accounted for 37 per cent of all self-employed people, and over 35 per cent of Canadian women rank 1st in their involvement in newer businesses.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 18, Franchise Canada takes a closer look at what it takes to be a femme de carrière.
Read on to find out how seven franchise mavens forged a path to success.
Beyond the Classroom
In choosing a franchise, Cheryl Vrkljan wanted to leverage her education and mental health background to support children and families. “I was initially drawn to Beyond the Classroom because it meshed perfectly with the things I value most in life: children, family, education, and connection.”
Despite the company’s growth and expansion, Vrkljan appreciates that the core value of helping children succeed in their own way remains the backbone of the organization. “It’s the reason that Beyond the Classroom attracts fabulous likeminded business owners, who just happen to all be other brilliant women!”
She says finding balance when running a business while raising a family is a challenge. “I am the primary caregiver for my family, and the reality is that most women still find themselves in this position, regardless of owing a business. I quickly had to learn to be very efficient in how I use my time, allocate my resources, and decide which activities to be involved in.”
Vrkljan fuels her success by surrounding herself with like-minded people, reading, meditating, and constant self-development. “I never stop learning and striving to know more because I know it helps me grow and expand my boundaries to be a better person and business owner.”
She says connecting to the purpose and values of a company is a metric of success. “Some important questions I would ask are: Do the core values of the franchise fit with your own core values? What systems are in place to support you as a business owner? What processes are in place to support you when things go wrong, and when things go well?”
Former management consultant Jen McCain was drawn to Dogtopia’s proven model and growth potential. “I knew no matter what learning curve I might overcome as an independent, I would not be able to outpace the growth of a franchised business like Dogtopia.”
In addition to the feel-good spirit fostered by a community dedicated to dog care, McCain values the franchisor’s top-down approach to quality control and standards, a benefit to franchisees at the ground level.
Though many women before her forged a path to success, she feels female entrepreneurs are still met with scepticism at times. “Even if it’s not overt, there may be an assumption that operations are not as well managed, or that there isn’t the same degree of control over business administration or the business development side. I think it’s the little comments or remarks made in passing that have made me realize that there is still room for progress.” Overall, she says clients are proud to support a female-led franchise.
McCain says a big draw for women is the strong support system and collaborative environment a franchise offers. “There’s a safety net knowing that someone always has your back, and that’s an important source of confidence and motivation for females. Franchises are one option that allow women to be bold and venture into business, while leveraging the tailwinds of a whole network.”
McCain’s advice? “I would love to get to a place where we drop the “women” led business or “girl boss” label and operate as if there was no option but equal. My advice is do what you have to do to make that happen. Help to remove labels and operate high calibre and inclusive businesses.”
Just Like Family
A homecare worker and registered nurse, Jienelyn Dimatatac contemplated running a homecare company to spend more time with her young family.
In a field fraught with complex rules and regulations, she says partnering with Just Like Family offered a better chance at success. “The system is easy to follow. They have a great training program and excellent 24/7 support to help you grow your franchise fast and steady. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. This company already had a proven track record.”
In taking her business to the next level, she says being part of a franchise system offers great benefit. Marketing programs and system support alleviate the difficulty of starting a business. “I needed the structure of a franchise system that I can follow and emulate. As a female business owner, I look up to some of my female idols who have made it in their own business.”
In partnering with an established brand, Dimatatac says you’re gaining the trust and respect of clients and the benefit of collaborating with the franchisor and franchisees. “I never feel alone. Without franchising, I don’t think I would be as successful as I am right now.”
She advises franchisees to choose a franchise that uses their talents and creates a good work-life balance. “Make sure you crunch the numbers. What is my breakeven point? Do I need more capital in the future? What kind of help will the franchisor provide? Is it safe to run a business as a female entrepreneur?”
As a public health nurse, Tammy-Lee Joyce often advised parents of lice treatments by phone, stressing the importance of nitpicking. “It wasn’t until my daughter became infested that I realized how inadequate this advice was.”
Wary after hours of treatments, she discovered Lice Squad.com. “I’d probably still be nitpicking my daughter’s hair if I hadn’t found them. The advice on their website was invaluable and saved my sanity and my back.”
The experience spurred Joyce to bring head lice services to Newfoundland & Labrador. “The Lice Squad.com franchise appeals to me because it allows me to utilize my business, nursing, leadership, and management skills to provide a much-needed service to my community.”
Franchising offered Joyce financial security and work-life balance while helping others and working alongside like-minded people. “I find so much satisfaction in my work. Best of all, I have the support and direction of everyone at Lice Squad.com, from the CEO to my fellow franchisees. I truly am in business for myself but not by myself. I love that.”
Often spread thin in the early days, Joyce quickly learned to delegate. “I think as women, we are constantly trying to juggle our many roles, not realizing that we do not have to be all things to all people all the time!” She advises franchisees to know their strengths and ask for help when needed.
“Women have so many qualities that translate so well into entrepreneurship. We know how to juggle changing priorities, we know how to delegate, we know how to nurture, we know how to lead, we know how to manage, and we know how to support each other. Being a part of a female-led franchise system has proven invaluable to my personal and professional growth. We need more women like that to serve as role models to others.”
A pharmacy executive, Vanessa Wamsley wanted to invest in a business with partner Daryll to build sustainable wealth and employment for her family, while maintaining her current career. “Mr. Greek understood our arrangement and was supportive in making it work,” says Wamsley.
For a couple with no restaurant experience, system support was integral. “Mr. Greek has been there to guide and assist us throughout the process. I truly appreciate the patience and support I have received. When they say welcome to the family, it truly is a philosophy reflective of how they run their business.”
Used to the challenges of upper management, Wamsley says women often work harder to prove themselves and command respect. The new business took her out of her comfort zone, and part of establishing rapport in her new environment is staying open to learning new things, asking questions, and setting realistic expectations.
For Wamsley, fresh perspectives create success, and women offer a different approach to running a business. “There is still the stereotype that men are the main income earners and support their families, and things are changing. For me, it is about setting an example and inspiring my daughter to do anything she puts her mind to, and to push herself out of her comfort zone. Only when we challenge ourselves can we aspire to our full potential.”
Her advice: have confidence in your abilities. “My focus has always been on success. I can’t settle in life. If I don’t believe in my own success, nobody will. It’s okay to have doubts and struggles. Everything worth achieving is challenging, but at the end of day, if you want something, you have to believe you can do it, and then do it. Stay focused, stay determined, and keep coming back to your goals.”
The Lunch Lady
A teacher by trade, Laurie Hubbard opened Mother Hubbard ‘N’ Friends Daycare, the first licensed daycare in her Nova Scotia hometown. “I have always been passionate about being able to provide good service to children and their families. I continuously had my eyes open for different opportunities that would allow me to do so.” She came across a social media posting by The Lunch Lady, and quickly realized it was something she had to be part of.
“Owning a franchise was something completely new to me. I started Mother Hubbard ‘N’ Friends Daycare on my own. I made all my own decisions, templates, designs, and learned everything from scratch as I went along.”
With the groundwork laid by the franchise, Hubbard says that starting over again was a lot less daunting, especially with systems and support in place for an easy segue. It was a big change for a businesswoman who was used to figuring things out on her own. “The Lunch Lady team at head office is top notch. There is always a ton of support and encouragement.”
Hubbard takes a hands-on approach, running the day-to-day operations. “I think in order to maintain your business and be able to offer the quality of service you want, that is something you must do.”
Her words of wisdom? “Owning a business isn’t easy. It doesn’t stop at 5 o’clock or end on Friday. It is a tough 24/7 job that requires commitment, time, and lots of patience. However, if you are passionate about something and know you can make a difference in someone’s life or help them in any way, don’t wait. Start now. The rewards you will receive are life-changing.”
TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Canada
When long-time friends considered a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Canada franchise, they asked seasoned customer service representative Kari Campbell to come on board. “Being an integral part of a team, building something from scratch based in an area where I grew up, seemed very exciting,” says Campbell. Today, she’s the franchisee and general manager of the Oshawa, Ontario location, and has a satellite office in Peterborough.
For Campbell, a big benefit of franchising is gaining the knowledge needed to run a successful moving business by executing a proven, step-by-step model. There’s no need to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel, and a proven model offers seasoned processes and systems. “With TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, we have access to company software and digital tools that we may not have been able to afford on our own.”
At first, sceptics were wary of Campbell’s ability to perform in a male-dominated industry, but she persevered. “Once you go and help them out and they realize you can more than hold your own, the challenges become fewer and fewer. In my current franchisee role, the knowledge and experience I have accumulated speaks volumes and really helps with any challenges, whether real or perceived.”
Campbell suggests that women consider franchise systems that pique interest and capitalize on skill sets. “You have the ability to shop around and find the franchise organization that offers you the most opportunity, and maybe even more important, real support.”
Her advice to prospective franchisees? “Make sure you are passionate about the franchise company you choose. Be ready to work hard, because it will become your business path to success.”
By Gina Makkar