Savvy businesswomen are making use of the free time around their jobs to manage and set up franchised businesses. Whether it’s a boutique work-out experience or starting their own eSports league, these side-hustles are guaranteed to provide a solid stream of passive income without eating up the entire day.
This start-up business trend started with the credit crunch in 2008, and was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; when many women found out that job security looks different for male and female employees. There has to be a backup plan. The Guardian reported in May that 178,000 women were made redundant between September and November 2020 – a whopping 76 per cent higher than the 100,000 made redundant during the credit crunch.
Coupled with historic pay gap issues between men and women, many businesswomen have tried to insulate themselves against these barriers with entrepreneurship and being in control of their own destinies.
Many of these side-businesses can be run on a part-time basis with low-cost barriers of entry.
None of these franchise opportunities require constant management by the franchisee. It allows the owner to work on non-operations-based functions of the business, such as marketing and finance.
How practical is a side hustle in reality?
Giving up your career to dive head-first into running your own business is daunting. That’s why so many businesswomen are picking up flexible franchise opportunities that don’t require all of their time. Knowing that you always have your successful, ongoing career to rely on for your needs allows businesswomen to foray into the exciting world of entrepreneurship without fear, giving them the best chance for success.
Costs are often lower with these side-hustle-style businesses. There are franchises that only require an investment as low as £2,800, compared to larger opportunities that can top out at £138,000. The variety allows for businesswomen at various stages in their careers to get their foot in the door with a cost level that is appropriate for them.
“Many of these side-businesses can be run on a part-time basis with low-cost barriers of entry”
Travel can be costly and expensive, and as we all know, time is money. Spending hours travelling is not ideal and represents time that can be better spent. Many of these side-businesses address that issue with semi-absentee ownership plans. It’s relatively simple to manage a team remotely who have the expertise to run the operational side of the business.
Side-businesses are such a great way to generate some extra income or provide a much-needed project to focus on away from family life. Franchise businesses come equipped with everything needed for success and are often referred to as a ‘business in a box’, so it’s no surprise that many side-hustles end up being full-time hustles.
Go through our list of accessible and low-cost franchise opportunities to see what works for you and get started! From every cost category to business category, there is something for everyone.
Chefs for Seniors
Founded in 2013, Chefs for Seniors brings together in-home elderly care and professional food preparation into one franchising opportunity that’s perfect for empathetic franchisees.
The brand was created by Barrett Allman; an executive chef who was struggling to maintain a balance between work and time with his family. He decided to use his skills to support those in need in his local community; all the while maintaining a level of flexibility that simply wasn’t possible in his previous career. Today, around 30 per cent of Chefs for Seniors franchisees maintain their business in a part-time capacity.
Chefs for Seniors is also one of the lowest-cost food franchises currently available, with a total minimum investment of $11,375 for its basic plan. This price can increase steadily depending on how expansive an investor wants to make their operation, but just like the brand’s founding pillars, this can be as flexible as you would like it to be.
On top of all of this, previous food industry experience isn’t a requirement to join the network. While this naturally helps if you choose to be hands-on with your business, Chefs for Seniors is instead looking for individuals with great business acumen, a strong work ethic, and the ability to follow the brand’s proven systems.
GYMGUYZ offers its clients a personal trainer service delivered to their front door. Via its iconic vans, the brand can provide a personalised offering that’s built around the lives of its customers.
Conveniently, this level of customisation is extended to its franchisees. Founder and CEO Josh York started running the business from the comfort of his parent’s dining room, and the brand is set up in a way so that each new franchise owner has the option to replicate exactly that.
This removes the need for a costly brick-and-mortar studio, which is one of the key factors that sometimes dissuades investors from entering this exciting space. Instead, GYMGUYZ can be run from wherever you choose, and the recurring revenue model means that successful owners will always have a comfortable flow of cash coming in.
The initial total startup costs for a GYMGUYZ franchise start at $92,200, with a franchise fee of $40,000. For these costs, franchisees receive constant training and support from head office, as well as assistance with the setup for a grand opening.
9Round’s boutique class-based boxing experience has seen increased demand skyrocket in recent years, as more and more workout-hungry guests turn to its flexible fitness model. This flexibility is extended to its franchise offering, with the brand having the option of semi-absentee ownership for investors who want to maintain a career outside of their franchisee responsibilities.
“With 9Round’s semi-absentee ownership model, franchisees can be 9Round owners while also maintaining their current job. This model allows for a close partnership between the franchisee and the location manager to launch a successful club that brings members back time after time,” says Heather Hudson, COO and co-founder of the brand.
“The semi-absentee ownership places a manager in charge of trainers and the day-to-day operations of the club while the owner oversees marketing, business finances, and other administrative work.”
9Round’s initial investment cost varies between $94,175 and $196,775, making it on the more affordable end of fitness franchising – perfect for entrepreneurs dipping their toes into this market for the first time.
Just Between Friends
Just Between Friends is a consignment sale franchise that began as a small home sale in its co-founder Shannon Wilburn’s kitchen in 1997. Since then, it has brought in millions of dollars for charities all across the US and has empowered franchise owners – the majority being female – to create their own futures.
“Just Between Friends is a perfect opportunity for anyone with a strategic mind, winning attitude, and can-do spirit who owns a laptop and a cell phone,” explains Dianne Davis, president, and VP of franchise development. “Our franchisees work from almost anywhere – home, ballfields, dance classes, carpool lanes – to organise and manage twice a year, pop-up children’s resale events.
“Most of our franchisees are parents who had built stellar careers and then started families. By the time their second child comes along, they want to stay home and care for their kids while still contributing to their family’s budget and their communities.”
Many Just Between Friends franchisees continue to maintain a full-time career alongside their franchise opportunity, and the organisation has members who are also lawyers, nurses, accountants, and teachers.
eSports is a very new franchise market, but one which is generating endless potential for tech-savvy franchisees that decide to dive into development. One such brand generating buzz is XP League; a US-based concept that expanded to the States after mere months of launching.
The brand was founded by Jay Melamed after he endeavoured to find a way to involve his youngest son in team-based youth sports. This familial angle attracts many franchise owners to the network today, with many volunteer coaches eventually transitioning into XP League investors.
“You can come into this and say you want to do it as a side hustle, by putting 20 hours a week into it. You run a couple of teams out of two locations and keep it very modest,” explains Jay Melamed. “Or, you can hire four people who are area coordinators, and play out of 10 different locations. You can scale it up and run 40 teams.”
As an American Express Travel representative, the Cruise Planners franchise brand is backed by some serious business know-how. It also helps that it’s one of the lowest-cost travel agency opportunities on the market today, with a franchise fee of $10,995.
Cruise Planners franchisees run their travel advisory business from the comfort of their own home but are backed by one of the US’ largest travel networks. It requires absolutely no prior experience, allows franchisees to work from anywhere and within hours that they set themselves.
The day-to-day of being a franchisee for Cruise Planners will see entrepreneurs help clients to plan trips and experiences of all kinds, and because there’s no need for a physical storefront, costs are kept low and flexibility is held high. Franchisees have the option to work full-time or part-time, and what they’ll get out of their investment is determined by their motivation and drive to succeed.
The Best Magic Mirrors Franchise
The Best Magic Mirrors franchise model is perfectly placed for part-time ownership due to its easy equipment storage and low setup fees. If you are looking for a low-cost, low-risk, high reward mobile business that delivers great flexibility and is built along strong family and lifestyle values, then this is the fun franchise for you. It really is a business in a prop box!
To sweeten the deal, £1,000 worth of bookings is guaranteed on day one to help you on your way.
“This amazing company has given me the opportunity to live the lifestyle I want, making my own decisions and having control of my own diary, whilst also providing the most incredible guidance and support to help make the business successful,” says Windsor franchisee, Lauren Hill.
“It incorporates all the factors you could want in a career – fun, sociable, interactive, and knowing I can make someone’s event super special is what makes it all worth it.”
Founder Chris Goodchild started the company five years ago as a side hustle, so when the time came to franchise the business, he knew exactly what to do for franchisees who wanted to follow in his footsteps.
STEM for Kids
Any parent wants the best for their children. Thus, a children’s services offering has always been a lucrative business venture. To add to this, while the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns may have caused this sector to temporarily shut its physical doors, franchisors overnight changed their offering to a digital one to keep their franchisees’ businesses booming.
The children’s services franchise model definitely has its perks with children enrolled in school during the day, meaning most programmes that franchises offer are reserved for after-school hours and weekends.
STEM for Kids delivers computer coding, bio-medicine, engineering, automation, robotics and business to pre-K, elementary and middle school children in the form of camps, after-school and weekend classes, parties and in-school workshops. As franchisees mainly focus on business development rather than teaching classes, the model allows for flexibility to work on the business part-time if they prefer. The first line on its franchise website fittingly states its USP – “Claim The Freedom to Work on Your Terms”.
Jan-Pro Cleaning & Disinfecting
Established in 1991 in Rhode Island, US, and began franchising soon after, Jan-Pro Cleaning & Disinfecting offers cleaning services to a variety of businesses including offices, schools and government, as well as more niche cleaning services tailored to specific industry requirements, such as industrial cleaning, healthcare services and speciality cleaning for certain environments.
With an emphasis on ‘cleaning greener’, by using fewer harmful chemicals through the cleaning process, Jan-Pro has established a positive reputation around the world, while also allowing franchisees the flexibility to set their own schedule based on personal needs. Plus, you don’t have to rent office space either.
“I realised life is really short and Jan-Pro has provided the opportunity that I’m home every day so I get to see my kids in the morning and night,” say franchisees James and Alison Mairet.
It also offers a variety of ways to start a franchise, with investment levels ranging from as little as $1,250 and going up to $50,000. You can start off with $1,250 for the down payment and $900 for the Jan-Pro Development’s starter kit.
Videos of the average Joe raking in the cash with their vending machine businesses have gone viral recently. Vending franchises have proved to be the ultimate side hustle due to their streamlined model and setup-and-forgotten approach to business.
Coffee machine franchise, Xpresso Delight, is cashing in on the coffee and vending machine craze, offering franchisees the ability to invest in a “coffee as a service” model. Franchisees have to deliver and install the machine in a high-foot traffic area – such as an office – and service the machines once a week.
“Laundromats, restaurants, technology services, signage, all required too much time and capital to get started. Plus, I didn’t see a big differentiator that would enable me to scale up quickly. Xpresso Delight met all my requirements, including low startup costs, limited time commitments, as I already have a full-time job,” says Xpresso Delight Bronxville franchisee Matthew Dwyer.
Fetch! Pet Care
Fetch! Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services, where pet care coordinators personally match all of their dog walkers and pet sitters to meet the specific needs of each pet.
“While Fetch! Pet Care’s business model encourages full-time ownership; some part-time owners, who have built large, reliable teams, are able to manage other part-time businesses as well,” says Maria Shinabarger, president of Fetch! Pet Care.
One such example is Jacque Peters, co-owner of Fetch! Pet Care North Pittsburgh. “In partnership with my father, we purchased the Fetch! Pet Care North Pittsburgh franchise in March of 2019,” she says. “I had been working as a golf professional, and after becoming a mom, I wanted more flexibility and to work fewer hours each week.
“I’ve always loved animals, even fostering dogs with a local rescue. I recognised the ownership opportunity with Fetch! provided a great work-life balance with the potential for a significant income.
“Our pet care team consists of 76 individuals, and we’re growing. Having this reliable team in place as well as strong relationships with our clients allows me to comfortably dedicate some time to other passions. In addition to being the owner of Fetch! Pet Care North Pittsburgh, occasionally I organise golf programmes and teach lessons to youth.”
Fetch claims that with its turnkey solution you can open your franchise in less than 14 weeks. Costs range from $74,967 to $80,667 on the initial investment, and members of the military get $500 off the initial fee.
The real-estate franchise HomeVestors is appealing as a part-time business because it is focused on securing a few big transactions, rather than several smaller ones.
It also offers an associate franchise option that makes it more attractive since it has a much lower upfront investment, giving the franchisee the opportunity to see if it is a good fit before going all-in. They then have the chance to “earn” their way to a full franchise.
A person needs a minimum of $70,000 in liquid assets to buy a franchise and have enough on-hand to begin operating the business.
“I originally started my franchise because I didn’t want to forever be in a corporate role. As a single parent with two kids, I saw that I could get into business immediately with HomeVestors,” says Sheila Konecke, HomeVestors Washington D.C franchisee.
“For a decade, I worked full-time as an engineer in a manufacturing line and ran my portion of the business, which was buying homes, on the side working with my brother, who was full-time.
“I was fortunate to have enough flexibility with my job that I was able to answer the phone or pick up messages when homeowners called about selling their house and was then able to call them back and schedule appointments when I was available.”
Not Just Travel
This company’s route to market is via home-based travel consultants, who join through sister franchise arm, The Travel Franchise.
Last year Not Just Travel introduced the Travel Consultant Lite package, which is perfect if you want to start a side hustle around your current job or other commitments.
For an upfront investment of £2,800 (plus VAT), it enables you to train as a certified personal travel consultant. No previous travel industry experience is required.
For their money, franchisees receive a personal website, fast-track training (currently delivered online), plus all necessary tools and technology.
Not Just Travel also charges a monthly membership fee, which covers ongoing support such as a personal travel coach, additional training, marketing materials and access to Facebook groups.
Since it was launched, The Travel Consultant Lite franchise has proved extremely popular, with Not Just Travel saying franchisees can potentially see a return on their investment after securing less than 20 bookings.
Founded in 2001, the company has over 850 franchisees in the UK and has won the Homeworking Travel Agency of the Year Award for the past five years.
The Travel Consultant Lite package is one of three franchise options offered by Not Just Travel.
Fun Fest Holiday Club
The perfect low-cost franchise if you have a young family or work in the school sector.
Children who attend a Fun Fest Holiday Club, which is Ofsted registered for children from three years old, can choose from a range of different activities every morning and afternoon, designing their own programme to suit their tastes and interests.
Business development director Lynne Newman says: “A single Fun Fest Holiday Club can be run on a part-time basis alongside other commitments, but it can also be scaled up over time by running additional clubs and services, such as a before and afterschool club.
“The nature of the business and the pattern of operating periods means a Fun Fest franchise tends to appeal to parents of young children and those who work in schools during term time. However, we have plenty of franchisees who don’t fit either profile.
“In our recruitment, we’re quite simply looking for people who we want to work with over the next five to 10-plus years. “Common characteristics include a good work ethic, aspiring to high standards and passion and enthusiasm for our brand.”
First Class Learning
Many First Class Learning franchisees successfully run their businesses, which provide children with individually tailored maths and English tuition, on a part-time basis, with their centres often opening once a week at weekends.
And while the company has over 300 UK franchises, extra help for school pupils has never been in higher demand, which means that in order for First Class Learning it achieve its ambitious growth targets it needs to recruit a significant number of new franchisees.
Chief executive Ed Hyslop says: “We’re looking for motivated individuals with the desire to run their own business helping children overcome their personal obstacles in maths and English.
“Above all else, we’re looking for people who share our passion for working with children and helping them succeed.
“Our business model ensures franchisees get a high percentage of profits as your class grows.
“Centre managers choose the days and times that suit their venues, as well as the fee structure for their centres.
“Our set up also offers a great deal of flexibility based on personal circumstances and therefore a great work-life balance.
“Beyond the financial rewards, the hard work pays off when parents share the significance of your role in helping their children reach their full potential.”
Mini First Aid
You may have seen Mini First Aid on Dragons’ Den this year, where founders Kate and Matt Ball secured a £50,000 investment from multi-millionaire ‘crafting queen’ Sara Davies for a 10 per cent stake in their business.
Mini First Aid was set up in 2014 to train parents, carers, children and adults in lifesaving first aid techniques for babies, toddlers and primary school-aged children following the death of Kate’s younger brother, who had undiagnosed cardiomyopathy.
The company’s first franchisee opened for business in 2015. Today, Mini First Aid has 65 franchises in the UK.
Franchisees receive full training and certification as a paediatric first aid instructor, their own website, a Facebook business page, membership of the company’s closed Facebook group, digital media and promotional material and instruction on how to run the business.
What attributes should a Mini First Aid franchisee possess?
“Being a good people person is number one,” Kate says.
“A sense of humour is also great. First aid can be a serious topic and sometimes a well-judged lightening of the mood can work wonders, especially in the kids’ classes.
“And just someone who’s passionate about the importance of first aid. Many of our franchisees have experienced a real-life first aid situation, which has stayed with them and inspired them to be brilliant trainers.”
Get Ahead franchisees provide companies of all sizes with support services that range from bookkeeping, blogging and database management, to design assistance, telephone answering and help with social media.
As well as offering expert advice, the concept is enhanced further by the fact these services can be delivered on an hourly, project or ongoing basis.
Describing itself as a ‘virtual agency’, Get Ahead was founded in 2010 by Rebecca Newenham, who still runs the business today. The award-winning company’s network comprises 10 regional directors and 40 virtual assistants, who are based UK-wide.
Rebecca says: “To become a Get Ahead franchisee, you’ll need to be confident and persuasive, enjoy face-to-face business conversations and be a great people manager.
“Often from a marketing, sales, business development or HR background, our franchisees are entrepreneurial and ambitious, yet also know that they thrive when part of a supportive team.”
According to the company, franchisees can work as many hours as they wish, with several existing network members working school hours only. They invested in the franchise because it affords them the flexibility to be able to work where and when it suits them.
Family Law Assistance
Set up by Steven and Michaela Wade following a gruelling court process Steven endured in order to remain part of his child’s life, Family Law Assistance wants to recruit franchisees who are compassionate, good listeners and patient but firm.
Over the last 14 years, they’ve developed a system that enables people to work from home – aside from assisting at court hearings – when it suits them.
Franchisees aren’t solicitors – they offer assistance in all aspects of family law situations in and out of court. They provide clients with an arm around the shoulder and a guiding hand, as well as assisting in the preparation of paperwork and dealing with correspondence.
Michaela says: “Most of the time, what we do has nothing to do with the law or legal system.
“A large part of it relies on empathy, understanding, reframing situations and helping people deal with the emotional side of the legal process they’re going through.
“Our franchisees don’t perform the same tasks as solicitors – it’s chalk and cheese. Because of this, we’re looking for people cut from a different cloth, which is why no legal experience is required to become a franchisee.”
Initial training takes place over a six-week period. The weekly, three-hour sessions cover areas such as legal matters, coaching techniques and best business practice.
Ongoing training and support are provided as part of the franchise package, including weekly catch-up sessions and regular training and refresher sessions, to make sure franchisees get the most from this business opportunity.
Raring2go! franchisees operate their magazine and website publishing business from home, which means very low fixed overheads.
Their income comes from selling advertising space to a broad section of the local business community, who are looking to position themselves squarely in front of the family audience the brand captivates.
Advertising is sold in the local quarterly magazines and across various online opportunities on the Raring2go! digital platform.
Entry-level investment is £6,995 (plus VAT) and includes all training and the cost of a franchisee’s first printed magazine and first three months of licence fees.
This scales up to the platinum package at £15,995 (plus VAT), which includes the first four printed magazines and the first 12 months of licence fees. This option means there are no overhead costs in the first 12 months of operation.
Freddie St George, Raring2go! managing director, says: “The Raring2go! franchisee network is composed entirely of women, who for various reasons looked at the business when at a pivotal time in their business and personal lives.
“For women currently facing that crossroads in their life and looking for a viable way to balance family life with a scalable business that delivers a healthy monthly income, Raring2go! is an excellent option.”
Do you want to inspire children to get moving? Could you see yourself running funky preschool dance classes for boys and girls? Then check out the franchise offering from diddi dance, which is accredited by the Children’s Activities Association.
Founded in 2003 and franchised in 2006, the company now has over 40 franchises across the UK, some of which are run in partnership with another individual.
As well as using the award-winning diddi dance brand name, systems and know-how, franchisees receive full training, ongoing support from an experienced head office team, plus access to exclusively written music.
They’re also awarded an exclusive trading territory, which includes approximately 12,000 two-four-year-olds.
diddi dance founder Anne-Marie Martin says: “Our franchisees are driven individuals who have a passion for giving children a love of moving to music that will last a lifetime.”
Andrea Bickford of diddi dance Reading & Wokingham says: “There are three reasons why I chose to run a diddi dance franchise: my passion for dancing, a desire to run my own business and my wish to create a great work-life balance.
“I’m able to work my hours around what’s best for my family at any given time. I also love the fact that I was able to start small, with just two or three classes, then grow as my children did.”
This list was published in the latest Business Woman. Read the issue for FREE.