The barriers to women starting a business

Fastsigns International Inc

March has been a celebration of women in leadership and business. Did you know FASTSIGNS is led by a female CEO? At our core, we empower women to fulfil their ambition for business ownership, through our franchise opportunity; could it work for you?

Do you wonder what it would be like to run your own business? Without question, there’s been a huge shift in the number of women in business leadership positions, in recent years. In 2020, nearly a third of all UK businesses were owned by women, compared to just 17% in 2016. Likewise, women are understanding the benefit of investing in franchising to starting a business. Around 30% of new UK franchises are opened by women – a steady increase over the last 25 years.

FASTSIGNS’ global network is full of proud and successful women, who’ve led the way in transforming the brand into a powerful global force – from franchisees, designers and sign-makers, right-up to our CEO, Catherine Monson.

But, we know your story is different to theirs. So, in a bid to help you understand what FASTSIGNS offers you, it’s worth exploring the barriers which typically hold women back – as highlighted by the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship.

  1. Apparent lack of opportunity

For many women, understanding your options can be a challenge: you’re not always privy to information on what’s available to you. This includes routes into business ownership, as well as understanding funding – which we’ll cover shortly.

Franchising is proven to empower people to take charge of their futures, based on the strength of the brand, and success of the network. With FASTSIGNS, you gain all the independence and financial freedom of working for yourself, with the backing of a powerful network of like-minded people. By offering continuous support and guidance, we’ll do everything we can to make sure every one of our partners thrives as a business owner. Having been recognised as a 5-Star franchisee satisfaction franchise, at the Best Franchise Awards, 2022, we’re proud to display this as a commitment to your success.

  • Lack of confidence

Too many women lack confidence in their own ability to run a business. Some of this is based on internal conflicts, although, according to the Rated People 2022 report, 40% of tradeswomen reported customers wouldn’t take them seriously because of their gender.

Sign-making may not be as male-dominated as some of the trades, but it’s easy to see why some women feel concerned about how customers will view them. However, in working with FASTSIGNS – a globally established brand – not only can you tap into our reputation as signage experts, but you’ll gain the confidence which comes from our training and support, developed over the last 35+ years. Confidence is something you can build, and we’re here to encourage you.

  • Lack of access to finance

Did you know only a generation ago women couldn’t apply for a credit card, without written “approval” from their husbands!! Thankfully, those days are long gone. But, there’s still a shocking bias against lending money to women to finance their own businesses, as well as a lack of awareness of where to go for finance.

Fortunately, help is available! Many banks and investors are taking the lead in making a change for the better. FASTSIGNS has a number of excellent relationships with key high-street lenders, who know how successful women can be, when backed by a franchise. Because they know our franchise model is tried-and-tested, lenders are more likely to finance you.    

  • Family commitments

This is a big barrier, for many women. Balancing work with your family can be difficult to juggle, and stops women from pursuing business ownership, as a result. However, the biggest attraction of running your own business, is the flexibility and freedom you’ll gain.

Franchisees across FASTSIGNS enjoy the freedom of working around their families. But, even if you don’t have a ‘typical’ family, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t benefit from flexible working, too. As Catherine, says, “I believe the key to an individual’s happiness, is to pursue your own ideals rather than trying to achieve someone else’s. I love what I do! But outside work, I have other interests, and friends I spend time with. I live a very happy life which suits me. We offer FASTSIGNS franchisees support to discover the joy of achieving their personal work-life goals.”

Meet FASTSIGNS franchisee, Melanie Martinez
As a woman in FASTSIGNS my journey really has gone full circle: from being the designer and sign-maker, through to now owning the business. For me being a franchisee was always a huge part of the appeal.

“Although back in the 90s the sign world was still seen by some as a male-dominated environment FASTSIGNS never felt like it. There were women in every role, and having the support of such a huge network is amazing.

“I’ve always loved my job and taking the leap from employee to owner was a big step; however it’s one I’ve never regretted. I firmly believe you get out of life what you put in – so I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard work sometimes! However, when it’s your own company, the flexibility of managing my own time is invaluable. I work hard, but I also never miss anything my children need me for, which is priceless!

“My FASTSIGNS family are an incredible bunch of men and women, and as a woman in business, I love seeing and hearing about the successes of my fellow FASTSIGNS ladies – from the signwriter right up to the CEO.”

Believe in your future, take our hand
If any of this resonates with you, we’d love to discuss how FASTSIGNS can guide you to fulfil your business dream. Or, if there’s anything we’ve missed, we would love to hear your experiences!

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