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Inside the Growth of Women in Franchising

Franchising has become an increasingly attractive pathway to entrepreneurship for women across the United States.

According to research from Franchise Business Review, 35 percent of franchised businesses are owned or co-owned by women, reflecting strong growth in entrepreneurship among this demographic.

The growth in the franchise sector is reflective of a nationwide trend. The American Express 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report found the number of women-owned businesses rose by 21 percent between 2014 and 2019, reaching nearly 13 million last year.

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Greater participation of women in business ownership has had a profound impact on the economy. The aforementioned report found employment rose by 8 percent at women-owned enterprises over the past five years. At the same time, revenues grew 21 percent to $1.9 trillion.

It’s clear that an increasing number of women are embracing entrepreneurship, but a big question is: What’s motivating them?

What’s Drawing Women to Franchising

The American Express report identified three categories of entrepreneurs that help explain the reasons for the growth of women in franchising. These include:

  • Need – Whether it’s due to unemployment or lack of opportunities, this segment of business owners is driven by a financial need. One consideration is the fact that there are a greater number of women working at a C-level and see entrepreneurship as the most viable next step in their careers. Others may have run into barriers within their existing roles and don’t feel like they’re exercising their full skill set, which business ownership would enable.
  • Flexibility – The fact that many women are in a situation where they may need to balance caregiving and professional pursuits with their partner isn’t new. However, there is an increasing number of business concepts that enable greater flexibility so women can decide when and how frequently they work as a business owner.
  • Opportunity – These business owners take a look at their community and see there’s a lack of specific product or service that they feel like they can provide. They take the initiative to build a business and capitalize on the opportunity.

These categories aren’t mutually exclusive. For example, there should be a market opportunity for any business concept. But the other sources of motivation may be stronger or weaker depending on the individual and their circumstances.

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In addition to these reasons, the attributes of franchising that draws many women to business ownership are varied. Franchising is a business model built for growth through replicable systems and processes. Many franchisors provide education or assistance when it comes to business planning and securing capital. And franchise brands are made up of a network of business owners who share their insights and support one another.

What Are the Top Franchises for Women?

Citing research from FRANdata, The Wall Street Journal reported interior-decorating franchises is the segment with the highest percentage of women-owned businesses. Modeling and beauty pageant concepts have the second-highest proportion of women franchisees. Meanwhile, clothing, toys and accessories franchises are in third place but represent roughly double the number of units of the first two categories.

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Franchise Opportunities for Women at Winmark®

Winmark has consistently had a strong track record of providing women with opportunities for business ownership across many of its franchise brands.

Among all of our brands, 58 percent of our franchisees are women. Within our clothing concepts, we have even greater representation of women as business owners:

  • Once Upon A Child®: 75 percent
  • Plato’s Closet®: 66 percent
  • Style Encore®: 90 percent

The motivation for many franchisees within the Winmark network of brands is rooted in not only the need and opportunity within their markets but also the desire to invest in a business that’s environmentally friendly.

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For example, Vermont-based multi-unit owner Stephanie Longshore always saw environmentalism as a top priority within her local community.

“In the early and mid-90s, you didn’t hear as much about the environment on a national level, but as long as I’ve lived in Vermont, it’s always seemed to be a shared priority among residents here,” she said. “So, when we learned more about Once Upon A Child, we knew we had to bring these quality, cost-effective and recycled products – and sustainable business – to our community.”

Over the course of the next three decades, Stephanie opened multiple resale clothing concepts in her market as a multi-generational, family-run business. Click here to read her full story.

There are countless additional examples of women who invested in franchise ownership with Winmark. Take a look through our blog to find inspirational stories of female entrepreneurs who have experienced success in franchising.

If you’re ready to take the next step and learn more about franchising with one of Winmark’s resale concepts, click here to download any our free franchise reports.