The Growth of Female Entrepreneurship through Franchising

It’s no secret that “having it all” is a controversial topic among women – especially ambitious, entrepreneurial women. Making sacrifices is the name of the game – whether it’s time with family, personal time, self-care or time at the office, something has got to give in order for us to fit all we have to do into only 24 hours in the day.
In my two-plus decades in executive leadership and business ownership, I’ve seen a lot of changes. One of the most significant of which is the increase of women who are business owners. This fills me with a deep sense of pride, and the numbers speak for themselves. More than 10 million U.S. businesses are owned by women, which bring in a collective $2.5 trillion in sales annually. Women employ 19.1 million workers, or 1 in 7. Franchising helps this tremendously.

Passion and purpose

I’m a mentor to several new female franchisors (the owner of the entire franchise) and have many female franchisees (independent franchise owners), and I see a common thread in each of them. There is an obvious drive to be successful, but more than that, these women strive to give back to their communities, be a part of a larger family of business owners and pursue something about which they are passionate.
Additionally, these women value a flexible schedule (as many have children who are still in school) as well as a business that allows them to be continuously learning and interacting with people. It is one of the greatest joys of my job to see our female franchisees grow and turn into amazing business women – in fact, it’s the reason I decided to start my own franchise.

Standing out as a candidate

As women explore franchising, it’s important to understand how important it is to stand out from the competition. I like to talk with interested candidates who have done their homework – starting a business is a serious decision, so I appreciate the candidates who take their research seriously. A passion for growing the business is a must, especially as Bottle & Bottega (and many other franchises) fill a service or entertainment need in the community.
Problem solving and a ‘team player’ mentality are essential for anyone in business ownership. A successful franchisee is one who can follow a system, leverage resources, and ultimately have the strength and determination to make things happen. Never underestimate the power of positivity, honesty and respectful communications – and remember to have fun!

What makes women different

Without stereotyping, there are some ways that I’ve seen that men and women differ in business. Women are extremely hard on themselves, but this drives them to succeed. Many male franchisees in my system ask, process and act without overthinking. I don’t believe that women are emotional leaders, but women do often factor more emotion (read: empathy) into our decisions, which can be a real strength. This is a huge asset, at Bottle & Bottega in particular, because we are passionate about nurturing our guests and their special events every night – the caring is incredibly important, and they appreciate the connection.

Roadblocks happen

As a woman in business, it’s not all smooth sailing. I spent the entire earlier part of my career in male-dominated industries such as plumbing, electrical, and quick-serve restaurants, so I had to quickly learn how to overcome barriers and let it propel me to greatness. An important part of my success, which I highly recommend for other entrepreneurial women, is the resources of a network of successful business leaders who I can contact for help or advice at any time. It can be difficult to ask for help, but always rewarding.

Looking ahead

As the numbers show, women in business are an integral part of our economy. Our numbers are growing annually, and I see only great things ahead of us. When the economy shifted, I began to see so many amazing, creative and resourceful businesses start up that required less risk, overhead and funding. This was a huge shift in the traditional way we had been thinking of business, and out of this shift came many fantastic opportunities for business ownership through franchising.
I see these models expanding, and franchising is a great way to accelerate those opportunities. I’ve seen firsthand women thriving in a franchise model, because these concepts are efficient, rule-oriented and foster an incredible sense of community and personal pride. As franchising grows, so do our female business leaders, paving the way for a better future for all of us.


Nancy Bigley

Founder at Bottle & Bottega
Nancy Bigley is CEO of Bottle & Bottega, Inc., a concept that pairs hands on art instruction with wine, in a sophisticated studio setting. Nancy has been involved in franchising since 1991 working in franchisee operations and executive leadership for brands such as Dunkin’ Donuts. Having had a successful career in the corporate franchising world Nancy was still looking to fulfill her dream of launching and running her own franchise concept. When she was introduced as a mentor to Bottle & Bottega and her now business partner Stephanie King-Myers, she knew she had found the perfect concept to launch her dream. Nancy serves on the Membership Committee and is Vice Chair of the Woman’s Franchise Committee.

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