I have spent many years in franchising, and it had always been a given that male leaders dominated this sector as they do so many others. However, it's becoming abundantly clear that a record number of women are not only leading franchise brands but are instilling in their companies a fabric of values-based decision making that is driving collective success for franchising overall. The evidence was on display and openly discussed at the Women’s Leadership Conference during IFA 2017.
This year’s conference was a particularly exciting one for me, as we are not only continuing to witness franchise businesses being one of the largest employers in the U.S., but the franchising community also continues to experience a record number of women starting and running franchise brands. As a committee member of the Women’s Franchise Network, I am passionate about the role of women in leadership, both personally and professionally – and at this year’s conference, I was inspired to see how many women are taking over leadership positions, including the impressive number of women owners!
The keynote speaker at this year’s Women’s Franchise Committee’s Annual Leadership Conference was Susan Beth, COO, NRD Capital, the first franchisee-sponsored and managed equity investment fund. As the keynote speaker, Susan shared her inspiring story, beginning with her parents’ journey starting a car wash business and turning it into a successful franchise. Her speech struck a chord for me because I truly believe that if we can instill in our children and ourselves a sense of grit, hard work, and unwavering integrity, then we can make a memorable mark on this world.
During Susan’s talk, she also provided her insights on how each of us can fill what she termed our “passion bucket,” whether it be personal, professional, or emotional. Listening to her talk and knowing how hard she worked to get where she is gave me a feeling of empowerment that is hard to put into words. Without question, for me, Susan’s keynote was the highlight of IFA 2017!
Thanks to Susan, here are a few particular takeaways that I will carry with me this year:
- Discovering Opportunities: For many individuals, the general belief still exists that the man is the family’s breadwinner, but in the franchise business, being a woman provides unique opportunities. In today’s world, taking risks and chasing your dreams is an equal opportunity gift. If you are a woman and have a strong business plan, the business environment is ripe for the taking. Go after it.
- Finding Balance: This is the never-ending question. For some, balance is working to have it all – the great job, the perfect home, the fit physique. But how can we truly find balance in our lives? Is it possible to excel professionally, while also being successful at home – whether that means being a wife or mother? At the end of the day, this is a very personal question with a personal answer. By focusing on the present moment, we can find balance. The beauty of franchising is that it embodies a group of people who are committed to community and, therefore, provide a network of support to help us find the balance we seek.
- No excuses: Women are breaking records and blazing trails like never before. Yes, we evaluate things differently, and we often struggle more intellectually and emotionally with the demands that having a family and a career place on us. But, as the famous saying goes, “if you’re not winning, you’re losing,” so let’s put the over-thinking aside and get on with being awesome.
As the success of the Women’s Franchise Network continues to grow, we will be better able to deepen our relationships within the franchise community, as together we address the pressing issues and find the solutions. Only then can we strengthen the success of each woman, as well as the franchise business as a whole.
For other key takeaways from IFA 2017, click here.