Photo Courtesy of Huffington Post
Career 05 November 2017
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)
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A Black, 14-year old, female, middle school student is tackled to the ground and handcuffed by a resource officer because she wanted to go to the school's health office.
A white teacher assigns a slave trade enactment as a class project, assigning Black students to the role of being slaves.
A teacher insults Black students and their parents in front of the entire class, causing Black students to tell their parents to not come to the school.
These instances of antiblack racism are happening in schools across America today. Over the summer, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey, and others have shined a light on longstanding antiblack racism in the US and, more specifically, in education.
Although there have been significant gains in improving Black students' education, there are still persistent opportunity gaps for Black youth. For instance, the rate of graduation for Black students has risen to 92%; however, Black students significantly lack access to honors, advanced placement, and/or gifted and talented courses (United Negro College Fund).
Does the classroom/school library include Black authors? Do the posters and bulletin boards reflect students' culture and lived experiences?
Also, while there has been an increase in Black college-going, most of this increase has been in under-resourced institutions, which creates student loan burdens for many Black college-educated adults. And, in light of recent over-policing, it's important to note that Black students are punished more harshly for the same behavior as white students, often for nonviolent offenses. The punitive nature of schooling for many Black students further isolates them from schools, resulting in higher dropout rates and higher risk for incarceration and other risky behaviors.
So how do we save Black students in schools that have a long history of antiblack sentiments and racially unjust policies and structures?
First, educators need to take an antiracist approach, which is actively eliminating racism through the acts of challenging and changing systems, organizational structures, policies, and practices that perpetuate systemic racism and racialized education outcomes. As part of this approach, educators must acknowledge that even well-intentioned teachers may be practicing racism without being aware of it. All educators are victims of being miseducated about issues of race and racism and now, they must be re-educated.
Celebrating the contributions of African Americans to US history enhances self-pride and models resilience for Black students.
The Center for American Progress delineated three ways in which educators can fight systemic racism in education: advocate for equitable funding, advocate for less policing and surveillance of students, and advocate to end de-facto segregation through school and district boundaries. Essentially, antiracist educators must be aware of and challenge policies that can potentially "push out" Black students. Examples of push-out policies include zero-tolerance discipline policies, special education identification policies, grading policies, standardized test policies, and attendance policies.
Second, educators need to become more knowledgeable of the history of racism and antiblack sentiments in the US. Professional development for educators should include content from African American and/or Black studies (including Critical Race Theory), sociological theory, and other literature relating to the experiences of Black people in the Diaspora from slavery to the present.
The 1619 Project, an ongoing project directed by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times Magazine, is a wonderful source for educators who want to become knowledgeable about slavery. Educators must examine how racism was the outcome and the ideological support for slavery rather than the cause of slavery. Just as important for educators to examine are the many contributions of Black people to US history—from Robert Smalls to Angela Davis to President Barack Obama. Celebrating the contributions of African Americans to US history enhances self-pride and models resilience for Black students.
As part of this approach, educators must acknowledge that even well-intentioned teachers may be practicing racism without being aware of it.
Third, for Black students to thrive, it's important for educators to fully embrace culturally responsive strategies in the classroom. According to Ladson Billings (1994), culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning. CRT requires that teachers encourage students to draw on their prior knowledge, to make learning meaningful and timely, and to ensure that the classroom reflects students' culture/race.
Does the classroom/school library include Black authors? Do the posters and bulletin boards reflect students' culture and lived experiences? Recently, a group of teachers in Massachusetts formed a Book Club to learn more about culturally responsive teaching, decolonizing curricula, and Abolitionist Teaching. The free, online "Abolitionist Teaching Book Club 2020" grew from a 30-teacher webinar book club chat into a 10,000-attendee five-day teacher conference in a matter of weeks.
And last, it's most important for educators of Black students to build meaningful relationships with their students to ensure they feel respected, valued, seen, and loved. In Dr. Bettina Love's book We Want To Do More Than Survive, she emphasizes the need for Black/Brown students to matter. She defines mattering as "building a community where people love, protect, and understand Black and Brown children."
Recognizing the humanity of teaching is the foundation of Love's concept of Abolitionist Teaching—which promotes teachers' utilizing protest, boycotting, and calling out racist, homophobic, etc. ideas and practices as a major component of their role as teachers.
All in all, it's essential that we ensure Black students have access to antiracist, respectful, historically-informed, engaging, loving teachers to thrive. However, this task is too important to be relegated to some educators. If all educators don't ascribe to this antiracist approach, we will continue to perpetuate the problem. We can no longer passively accept racism in classrooms and schools—Black students deserve more.