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The Growth of Women-Owned Businesses

These days, an increasing number of women are choosing entrepreneurship over traditional careers in the corporate world. In fact, since 1997 women-owned businesses have increased 59 percent, with revenues of women-owned businesses increasing 63 percent.

While each woman may have her own set of motivations behind going into business for herself, there seem to be some key elements driving the overall trend. These include:

Corporate Burnout

Women place high importance on flexibility within their schedules, especially if they have the added demands of children to look after. The rigid traditional workweek does not fit well with many women’s fluid and ever-changing schedules, particularly when it comes to their family’s needs, activities and appointments.

Tracie Grubb, a Once Upon A Child® and Style Encore® franchisee, has balanced her work and family life by building her business with her family.

“I knew if I was going to be working hard for a business, it would be with my family,” Grubb explained. “Spending time with my family is important, and I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my parents.”

Many women feel similar to Grubb and can take advantage of this business model to invest in a new career path.

“Working together as a family has been a key to our success,” she added.

Perhaps more importantly, millennial women in particular have shown signs of feeling jaded and disappointed by corporate America. They are not interested in climbing the corporate ladder, nor are they pining for the perks that await them at the top of that ladder. Instead, they want to be in control of their own destinies and be better able to shape their own lives.

Grubb welcomed the opportunity as a franchisee to expand immediately when franchisor Winmark® launched Style Encore.  Grubb remembers being excited at the opportunity to be part of the “trailblazer” group, a group of franchisees that composed the first eight locations in North America.

Over the Office Politics

Another key factor steering women toward entrepreneurialism is “office politics,” as many view corporations as being fundamentally flawed and limited in their value structures.

In other words, women like to work in a way that is fundamentally different than men. For example, men tend to prefer a hierarchical structure while women like a community-minded structure. It is not until recently, however, that women received the long overdue recognition as being as integral a part of the workforce as their male counterparts.

Most often, an organization’s culture has not been updated to reflect the changing needs of its more diverse workforce, creating unique challenges for women that are not felt by men.

Being Underutilized

While women value a flexible work schedule to better balance work and family, the lack of it is not always the driving factor behind their reason for leaving the corporate workforce.

Women often face more barriers to advancement in the workplace, and are underrepresented at the corporate level of senior leadership positions. Tired of the added obstacles, they are opting instead to become their own bosses.

Being Underpaid

The gender pay gap has been a topic of discussion for many years, yet it still seems to be prevalent.

Research from Procurement Leadership compared salaries of men and women, uncovering clear evidence that women earned lower wages than male counterparts, even in the same role. A Harvard Business Review article also cites wages for women as compared to men have only increased an average of half a penny annually for the last 30 years.

When women work for themselves, however, there is no cap to their earning potential.

Foregoing the years of climbing the corporate ladder while dealing with corporate politics, uneven pay, and work that leaves them feeling unfulfilled, more women are opting instead to take advantage of the ample opportunities available to start their own businesses. Grubb knew nothing about the retail industry but was still able to succeed with Winmark’s support.

A great way many women are choosing to grow is through franchising. With a network of support and solid infrastructure in place, franchising offers women the opportunity to work for themselves, but not by themselves.

“Because neither of us [Grubb and her mother] had ever opened our own retail store, the franchise route was very attractive,” Grubb explained. “Rather than being the only one driving all avenues of the business, you have the support of an entire company that has had success. Joining a franchise provides you with everything you need to achieve the same success – an already proven business model, identifying a good location, store build out, technical support, operating systems, training, etc.”

With five unique brands to choose from, Winmark empowers women to take control of their professional futures.

In fact, roughly 72 percent of Once Upon A Child stores are owned by women, and nearly 58 percent of Plato’s Closet locations are women-owned. Meanwhile, three-quarters of Style Encore stores are owned and operated by women entrepreneurs.

Click here to learn more about Winmark’s franchise brands!