When I became a mom 16 years ago, the choice to return to work full-time was incredibly difficult. I wanted more flexibility in my career, but we also needed my salary, so I felt my options were limited. Still, I wanted to try and change direction. At the same time, motherhood had rocked my world. I had so many questions about how to take care of my baby, how to take care of myself. I started Stroller Strides during my maternity leave so that I could take my son with me to workout, and so that I could meet and get support from other moms. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one looking for this connection because the class took off. Within months, we were getting requests from all over the country for classes. Many who wanted to take classes, but also many who wanted to lead them. This is how I started franchising.
We are proud to be one of the fastest growing franchises for moms. I started franchising because I wanted to give other moms the opportunity that I had in running a business. I felt so lucky to love my work, to be able to work from home and create my own hours. I was able to give back to my community and to meet other new moms.
I would have given anything to join a franchise like FIT4MOM. As the franchisor, I had to invent the wheel so to speak. I had wanted to be a mom first and foremost but got carried away in the enormous process of building a franchise brand. It was expensive, time-consuming and downright overwhelming. But it was worth it because I was able to create the franchise opportunity that I would have wanted as a mom.
What comes to mind when you think of a franchise? McDonalds? 7-11? Supercuts? Chances are, you think of a brick and mortar business and expect that it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And for those franchises, you would be right. But there are many other franchise models that are home-based, low cost and turn-key. And those things can make for a good business choice for moms.
According to the Bureau of Labor, 70.5 percent of women with kids 18 and under are working. How many of those women dream of having their own business? Creating their own hours? Working from home? But starting your own business can be risky. The Bureau also states that nearly 50 percent of new businesses fail by year two. That statistic changes if you are a franchise. Some studies have shown that franchises have a success rate of up to 90 percent. Why? Because it’s a proven business model. A franchisor has to create a system that can be replicated by all franchisees. Franchising offers a unique model to realize your dream of business ownership without doing it alone.
But why is a franchise good for moms? The right franchise is good for moms because it gives her an opportunity to be her own boss, to create her own hours and, possibly, to work from home. In other words, a career path that’s on her own terms. It’s also good business to partner with a brand that has recognition, increasing the probability of success since the franchise has established the business model, the operations manuals, the systems and more.
So, what should you ask yourself before starting a franchise?
1. Believe in the brand. You don’t want to buy yourself a job. Find a company that has a product or service that you love, one that you believe in, one that you can get excited about.
2. Do you see a need for this business? How will this franchise do in your community? What will your competition be? How can you differentiate yourself?
3. How will you learn the business? Do you need to travel to the franchisor? Do they have digital training?
4. Have you run the numbers? How much do you need to make? How much do you want to make? Will this business be able to fulfill your financial goals?
5. What will the business require of you? Some franchises have minimum thresholds for revenue. Are you comfortable with those expectations?
6. Speak to other franchisees. Why are they doing it? Do they feel the business is a good business model?
7. How much will you be expected to work? If you only want to work a few hours a day, then be honest about that. Many businesses will expect full time hours, even if not during a typical 9 - 5.
I love franchising because you’re in business for yourself but not by yourself. I find that you get as much support from your fellow franchisees as from your franchisor. Moms are a catalyst for change. Moms are leaders. Moms can have a big future in franchising.
Lisa Druxman is a mom, entrepreneur and founder of FIT4MOM and author of the upcoming, The Empowered Mama: How to Reclaim Your Time andYourself While Raising a Happy, Healthy Family (November 21, Fair Winds Press)
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.