Talk on the Street
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Franchisees & Entrepreneurs: Same-Same or Different?
Much debate has gone into the question, are franchisees entrepreneurs? For many, including well-known franchise experts like Joel Libava, the answer is a clear no: The franchisee is not an entrepreneur, the original franchisor is the entrepreneur. Some even go so far as to say that an entrepreneur should not become a franchisee, that they should create their own business and franchise that.
While that opinion may have been more the norm in the earlier days of franchising, like the 1970s and 1980s, attitudes and opinions are changing as franchising develops into the 21st Century.
Successful franchisors of today often look to their franchisees for input into franchise direction and development. And while franchisees may not be risking their finances, time, effort and career on a completely new business, they are risking their finances, time, effort and career.
Franchisees still have the same daily management, staffing, accounting and selling responsibilities as any other business owner. The difference is that they are simply working within a framework that someone else has established.
And it is females who tend to balance well the entrepreneurial traits of being a business owner within the franchise model.
Gender Stereotypes in Business
While statistics continue to show franchising and entrepreneurship remains a male-dominated environment, the male-female ratio of business owners is beginning to balance out. Attitudes are changing around entrepreneurship, women in business and leadership roles.
When interviewing females in regard to entrepreneurship, franchising and business, research shows that females tend to be less likely to describe themselves or their work as being entrepreneurial, even if they are meeting the definition of what entrepreneurial is.
The generalized image of an entrepreneur is one that embodies stereotypical masculine characteristics; independence, aggressiveness, risk-taking and competitiveness. And it is these types of stereotypes that, firstly, can discourage females from viewing themselves as entrepreneurs and, secondly, can limit females moving into a franchising or entrepreneurial role, especially in the areas of financial support and social support.
Derek Cafferata, CEO and President of franchising experts All State Franchise Finders, believes females tend to carry these typically male entrepreneurial characteristics, but in a well-balanced way. “Franchising and entrepreneurship require risk, but calculated risk as opposed to Wild West cowboy-style risk,” says Derek. “In my experience, women in business are excellent at taking well-thought-out, calculated risk.”
More and more research is being carried out into entrepreneurship from a female perspective. And this research is finding that women do carry the necessary characteristic of an entrepreneur just as much as men. The difference is that women describe themselves and their attitudes, goals, desires and leadership qualities in a different way to men.
Meaning both genders are just as likely to reach the same success in business as each other. They simply go about getting to their success in different ways by showing different variations of the same entrepreneurial characteristics.
Female Characteristics that Benefit Franchising & Entrepreneurship
Additionally, females bring unique characteristics to business, whether it’s in the corporate sector or small business sector; characteristics that tend to be unique to this gender group. And it is these differences that are beneficial to franchising and entrepreneurship.
Three significant female characteristics that benefit the franchising and entrepreneurship business models are a strong teamwork attitude, the ability to follow directions well and a willingness to collaborate.
Whether it’s a franchise unit or an entrepreneurial endeavour, building a strong team is vital to its success. “The size of the team is irrelevant,” says Derek. “A two-person business requires the same commitment to teamwork as a 200-strong business.”
This is where females often excel. The caring, nurturing nature of women naturally draws a team together, with a focus on working towards a common goal to the benefit of everyone involved. Females are more likely to be effective communicators and it’s this quality that goes a long way to building a strong team network.
The second characteristic females tend to bring to the world of franchising and entrepreneurship is the ability to follow direction well. While this may seem far more suited to the franchisee as opposed to the entrepreneur, following direction generally leads to good planning and well set-out goals.
When looking at this in terms of the franchise model, following directions already set out makes for a positive franchisor/franchisee relationship. “We find women have a well-rounded understanding of the benefits of following directions,” says Derek. “The systems and methods a franchisor has in place are ones that are tried and tested, designed to help the franchisee to succeed in business. We find females tend to see the benefits of this, more-so than their male counterparts.”
Collaboration is another key characteristic that females tend to possess. The willingness to collaborate with the franchisor, other franchisees or other business leaders within their field is one of the most powerful characteristics a business owner can bring to their business. Women are more open to sharing knowledge and experience with others, they tend to appreciate mentorship and thrive on mentoring others.
Franchising offers a natural framework for collaboration and it is for this reason that more and more women are finding franchising a very attractive and realistic career option.
The female perspective is an important consideration when looking at franchising and entrepreneurship. While various stereotypes will always exist in some way, females do carry a very positive form of the characteristics required to be an entrepreneur. Females also bring to business some very unique traits that, as many women are proving more and more, are definite keys to business success.