Women in Franchising Appreciation Day is part of a new initiative by United Franchise Group, an affiliated family of brands and consultants that unites more than 1,600 franchises worldwide.
The company is working to bring more women into the industry, which can benefit from the organizational talent and customer focus that many women offer. More and more women are choosing the freedom and fulfillment of owning their own small business, a trend celebrated on Women in Franchising Appreciation Day, Oct. 14.
Numbers tell an intriguing story about the popularity of franchising for women entrepreneurs. According to Guidant Financial and the Small Business Trends Alliance:
- Around 8% of all franchise owners are women.
- In the past decade, the number of women-owned franchise owners has increased by 38%.
- Nearly nine in 10 women franchise owners say they enjoy owning and running their own business.
- Three of four women would recommend franchise ownership to would-be entrepreneurs.
Ese Aihie is an industry expert in commercial real estate and flexible workspaces. She’s the owner and president of Admiral Legacy, a commercial real estate company that owns the co-working franchise Venture X Lewisville – The Realm at Castle Hills. Aihie is also the founder/CEO of Work Innovators, a certified women-owned enterprise based out of her Venture X office focused on delivering innovative solutions and amplifying voices through media and technology.
Aihie graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a Master’s in Public Affairs. For 18 years, she worked in multiple leadership roles at Fortune 100 companies. As with so many executives in the corporate world, Aihie felt that she was downsized. In 2018 she decided to make her side hustle in real estate her main hustle.
“My experience with real estate, people, workforce, and personnel management led me to the commercial real estate space I wanted to play in, and then ultimately purchasing a Venture X co-working/flexible office space,” Aihie told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
Today, Venture X Castle Hills operates as both a home and family for businesses in North Texas. A place where collaboration and innovative ideas happen, where businesses grow, and employees thrive.
“I encourage business leaders to reimagine the future of work by looking to flexible workspace as an option for their employees.”
Venture X, an affiliated brand of the United Franchise Group, is inspired by boutique hospitality brands where relationships, consistent quality, and value-added offerings are the cornerstone of the membership experience. Its “best-in-class” working environment is very appealing to corporate clients and professionals from every level.
When asked why she chose to purchase a franchise as opposed to starting her own brand, Aihie shared:
“Running a business on your own comes with its challenges. I chose to invest in a franchise because it allowed me to create that balance between running my business and running my household.”
“This franchise gave me a head start by providing a business model, and all I had to do was pray and apply GRIT (Growth, Resilience, Intentionality, Tenacity) in order to be successful.” Owning a franchise can provide women with the flexibility needed to achieve work-life balance. Aihie believes that more women should take advantage of franchise ownership, but that can’t happen unless barriers to entry are eliminated.
“Access to capital is a factor that prevents women, particularly BIPOC women, from going into business. If we can address this there will be more women business owners. When such programs become available, there should be awareness campaigns to ensure qualified women are encouraged to take advantage of these programs.” Aihie also asserts that franchisors need to provide education and awareness on the benefits of franchising, for example, business assistance, lower failure rate, brand recognition, training, etc. She advises women aspiring to become business owners to “see every difficulty as a promotion and setbacks as set-ups.”
“Don’t be discouraged when one hundred doors are shut to your face, keep knocking because all it takes is one door.”
Aihie serves on several boards and leadership councils, including The Colony Chamber of Commerce Board, the Urban Land Institute Education Council, National Small Business Association (NSBA) Leadership Council, The Scott Murray Scholarship Fund, and Single Parents Advocate Leadership Committee.
When she’s not working, she’s traveling to places worldwide to experience different architectural designs, cultures, and food.