Like so many millennials in the workforce today, Jada Hutcheson Clower watched her baby boomer mother scale the corporate ladder, break through the proverbial
glass ceiling and blaze new trails in the corporate hospitality world. The tradeoff was her mom often worked long hours and traveled far from home.
As Jada prepared to start her own family, she found herself in the midst of a career quandary. “I began asking myself what I want for my family and
the answer was clear, I want to be present.”
It’s not as though Jada didn’t appreciate the success and longevity of her mother’s corporate achievements. To the contrary, she respected those career choices now more than ever as she talks about the successful franchise business they launched together in 2014. Jada credits her mother Cindy with setting the example for all that can be achieved through perseverance and hard work. “She helped me believe anything was possible.”
Jada originally chose a different career, but after 5 years as a teacher she began thinking about her long term options. Teaching offered some flexibility with summers off and holiday breaks, but Jada was burning out fast. “I was giving everything I had to my students and at the end of the day, I had nothing left to give to my family”, she confessed. When she became pregnant in 2014, she decided this was the perfect time to make some wholesale changes. Who better to consult for career advice than the one person who taught about the challenges of balancing business and motherhood?
When Jada and Cindy came to our offices looking for a business to fit their family, we began by asking some important questions, like “what do you want the business to provide for you and your family?” My team and I have helped almost 400 people into business ownership, most of them first time business owners and almost all of them are family businesses. In recent years, we’ve seen a significant uptick in multi-generational family partnerships. It’s not just Mom and Pop anymore. Today a whole new generation is redefining “family business” with parents and adult children leading the way together. According to a recent article published by the International Franchising Association (IFA)...
“Recognizing the similar paths their lives are taking, many boomer parents and their millennial children are joining forces and going into business together.”
I have first hand experience in this area since I’ve enjoyed my own multi-generations family business partnership with my father for over 17 years.
Jada’s daughter is now two years old and the family business is thriving. I asked her to sit down with me to share her business ownership exploration and why they chose the business they did.
Q: Timing is everything, but you had a lot going on at the time, so what drove you?
A: My mother and I found ourselves together at a crossroad right about the time I became pregnant. I was burning out on teaching and I knew I wanted to create a world for my daughter where I could be there for her on a regular basis. I also knew I wanted my mom there with me. Her corporate career was winding down and this was our chance for a new beginning.
Q: You’re a certified teacher, what made you decide to leave teaching for business ownership?
A: I wanted more flexibility in my schedule, more than just weekends and school breaks. Plus, I wanted to focus my time and energy on building a business where my entire family could play a role. I realized the reason I love teaching is the feeling that I’m making a difference. That feeling can be achieved in creating a lasting legacy for my family as well.
Q: What made you decide to go into a business partnership with your mother?
A: My mother is one of the smartest businesswoman I’ve ever known. When I approached her about building a family business, it was no surprise to me when her first question was, “Why not?” I knew she would bring to the table her years of experience in the business world and she would tell me what I needed to hear honestly and openly. She was for me the perfect partner.
Q: Were you afraid that being in business with family would change your relationship?
A: No. We have always been extremely close and our family comes first. Generations of our family has lived in this community and we have an incredible wide support system to help us on track.
Q: Why did you decide to look at a franchise business?
A: We recognized that we need the support and process that franchise businesses could offer. We wanted to achieve that balance between true entrepreneurship and the corporate world, where my mother spent the majority of her career. There were other options, but a franchise business made the most sense for our family.
Q: Education and child enrichment businesses can be both rewarding and lucrative, why not stay in the world you know?
A: We thought about that, but I wanted to work ON the business and not IN the business. I also really wanted to do something vastly different, to expand my skills. This business is not just for me, it’s for my whole family, so we considered all the different options you presented.
Q: You decided on a B2B business model, Instant Imprints, why?
A: Instant Imprints checked all the boxes for us. The B2B component meant the opportunity for higher revenue, recurring revenue and predictable business hours. The franchise system demonstrated a strong network of customers, vendors and other franchisees. They work to keep the team updated and informed on the latest research, development and promotional opportunities. Most of all, we wanted a franchisor who would value open communication, mutual trust, clearly defined rights and obligations and is dedicated to long term success.
Q: What is your role and what is your Mother’s role in the business?
A: I am primarily involved in the creative process. My mother lends her support on the marketing and business development side, but what she really enjoys is caring for her granddaughter while Mom is at work. It’s all come full circle.
Q: What advice would you give to other prospective business owners exploring franchising as a path to business ownership?
A: Be clear on what you really want. Be focused and prepared to work really hard to achieve your goals. My mother taught me that.
Q: Is it everything you wanted in a family business?
A: Our business allows us the freedom and flexibility we need to make our family work. Families are always juggling priorities, but since we are all working together at home and at work, we have the opportunity to pull together to get it done.
Q: Is there a special Mother’s Day message you’d like to send to your Mom and business partner?
A: If I could be half the Mother to my daughter as my Mom was to me, I will consider myself a huge success.
As we prepare to celebrate motherhood this May, we congratulate these forward thinking ladies for their success as a family and as business owners.
Whether you’re exploring business ownership as a new career or simply want to know more about building wealth and equity through franchising, sit down with your family and watch some of our educational videos together. We'll help you start the conversation.
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