It’s time for women to rise above trading hours for money and consider becoming owners or franchisees. Here’s why.
For 15 years as a consultant, I was trading time for money, and there simply were not enough hours to build my personal balance sheet. As a mom, I wanted to build that balance sheet for my kids’ college, among other things, but also wanted flexibility and time with my family.
So what did I do? I became a hotel owner.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made, for myself and my family. It wasn’t an easy path and it wouldn’t be right for everyone. But it’s an excellent opportunity under the right circumstances. It clearly was the right path for me and it can be for other women.
Hotel owners make money on their assets and on the hours their employees work. Hotels are large-enough businesses to employ general managers, so the owner has a buffer against day-to-day staffing demands. For women, perhaps even more than for men, it would be ideal to have a business and income while controlling when and how much to work.
In 2017, the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy reported women were majority owners of 9.9 million U.S. businesses. However, only 10% of women-owned businesses employ workers. That means 90% of female business owners are still trading hours for money. They have not leveraged their time and assets. They own businesses that do not address the problem of running out of hours.
Women, including mothers, work. In the hotel industry, women, including single mothers, keep hotels running 24/7. However, they rarely build equity or control their own time.
In order to build their personal balance sheets, women need to become owners of businesses that have employees and generate returns on assets. Hotels are the perfect vehicle.
Women control 51% of U.S. personal wealth, are 47% of the workforce and are the primary source of income in more than 40% of households. So why am I told today, “Women who own hotels are just married so their name doesn’t show up anywhere?” If hotels are an excellent investment, as I believe, and women have wealth, as the numbers show, both single and married women should be owners and franchisees.
Women own only 14% of hotels and motels, according to the U.S. Census 2012 Survey of Business Owners.
However, women tend to own properties that are too small to build wealth, support a GM or address the problem of trading hours for money. These numbers suggest that the survey skews toward smaller businesses.
Hear it from two women who became hotel owners.
Helen Zaver, first VP of investments for Marcus & Millichap, said the marketing side of her hotel businesses was a passion and the ownership side makes it worthwhile.
“Hotels are something you can put your own touch to and be passionate about,” Zaver said. “You can make a hotel something you are proud of while, of course, making a profit.”
Monica Harrigill, managing member and co-founder of Sunray Companies, said the culture needs to change.
“It’s a dilemma why women don’t franchise and own more hotels,” she said. “Is it a capital issue? Is it an awareness issue? Have franchises focused more on males for so long that women might feel less welcome or intimidated by the franchise world? I wonder which if any of these issues keep women from exploring the hotel industry. The hotel industry to me is a natural fit for women. Women in general are great multitaskers, very hospitable and nurturing by nature, good at developing teams and good at teaching. In being a mom and businesswoman, I find that a lot of the skills that it takes to be a great mom are very transferable to the hotel industry.”
So, what’s holding you back? Would hotel ownership be as good for you and your family as it was for my family and me? If there simply aren’t enough hours in the day for you to accomplish all your professional and personal goals, owning your own hotel might be the perfect solution.
Peggy Berg is director of the Castell Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing gender diversity within the hospitality industry. The group hosts annual advanced training programs designed to help women reach the next level of career advancement. The Castell Project also maintains and provides the WSH (Women Speakers in Hospitality) List for industry events and conducts surveys and studies to track industry gender advancement.
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