There’s a fine line between being your own boss and taking total responsibility for all aspects of your business.Stephanie Schon found franchising creates opportunities for wealth while providing a support system and template for success.

Throughout my career, I’ve noticed women are not as prevalent in franchising, which is why I decided to join the industry.

My franchising journey has been lengthy — after earning my MBA from the University of Denver, I spent 11 years working in supply chain and project management at a major technology corporation. Afterwards, I shifted to consulting with a specialization in project and program management and strategic planning, eventually becoming director of Strategy and Execution at Buffalo Wild Wings.

To no surprise, I learned a lot about franchising during my time with Buffalo Wild Wings. I realized franchising allowed me to use my consultative and execution-oriented background to my advantage. I knew I could help franchisees fulfill their entrepreneurial spirit and support them with the right tools and processes to run successful, seamless businesses.

I’m also a firm believer in combining passion with business experience. To take that next step, I decided to pursue franchising with a focus on fitness.

In November 2020, I combined my passion for fitness with my franchising experience to become brand president of The Bar Method. Prior to joining The Bar Method, my fitness routine involved more high-intensity interval training and triathlons. I was excited to lead a brand where I felt an emotional and physical connection. After diving deeper into barre, I fell in love with the ability to simultaneously build my muscles and mind.

While I was excited to take on this new responsibility, the job had its challenges. I joined the team amidst a global pandemic and was one of few women leaders in the industry. That said, I was eager to join a brand with a female-dominant franchise network.

I’m honored to work side-by-side with some of the industry’s most exceptional women who guide and embolden women in their studios every day. While joining a team of women was an important selling point for me, I never let my gender hold me back. I use each challenge as an opportunity to grow mentally, physically and spiritually.

As brand president, ensuring stakeholder success is critical — which I do by building operational excellence and consistent consumer experiences. I strive to increase franchisee and franchisor profitability and measure progress against consumer trial, guest conversion and member engagement.

To drive The Bar Method forward, I review brand successes and shortcomings, customer feedback, and industry trends to determine what to optimize in the future. My favorite part of my day is when I’m able to ideate alongside our talented team on enhancing overall class experiences to best serve our members.

I’ve faced challenges with The Bar Method, but fast forward three years and I’m excited about the progress we’ve made. While franchising is male-dominated, that hasn’t prevented me from becoming the strong, female leader I am today — and it shouldn’t inhibit others. My advice for female franchisors entering the industry is to embrace challenges, as many of my career highlights came from pushing myself. When you believe in yourself, those opportunities come more frequently.

In Her Own Words is a daily Bizwomen feature compiled and edited by Ellen Sherberg and written by individual contributors.