Franchising mum

Michelle Nickelin speaks about the challenges and benefits of running her own yoga and pilates franchise.


Next Sunday is Mother’s Day.  Here Michelle Nickelin, mum and founder of the franchise Sandstone Yoga & Pilates, talks about her roles as both a franchisor and a mum.

With an increase in women in franchising, what advice do you have for mother’s and women alike on how to get started?

Michelle Nickelin: I think if you are starting your own business and are wondering about all the competing demands on the time you have already then franchising makes perfect sense. It gives the support of an established brand so much of the decision-making is taken from you so you can focus on your clients.

You should never underestimate the amount of time and effort a new business takes to get off the ground. But women can do it and I think in many ways hard-working, focussed women who are resilient, driven and can follow a tried and trusted model make perfect franchisees.

I know Sandstone franchisees (all of whom are women) excel in these areas. My advice is to find the sector you want to work in, find the brand that resonates with you and then check you are happy to use their model to bring you business that provides an income. Sounds simple but franchising is the way forward, particularly for women, I believe.

How do you balance work with family?

MN: I do make sure I don’t work too many nights and I’ve always had most weekends off. No one minds when I work at weekends – their dad cooks much better than me anyway. My mum has always just mucked in too. I really try to not go on my phone after 8pm at night. I never have emails on my phone either. I actually find running my own business gives me much more family time than being a secondary school teacher [as she was before].

What lessons do you hope to teach your children about being a business owner?

MN: My kids see both sides of the business. They see the rewards and the recognition. My business has allowed us to travel the world and they’ve always been involved even when they were little. They deliver flyers; talk to people whilst leafleting near our studios; clean the studios; help out on reception; push us on their social media; model for us and the eldest is training to be a yoga teacher at the moment.

But they also know I have worked irregular hours; had ups and downs with staff; made mistakes in the early days; won some; lost some; got blown about a bit; carried on; survived and thrived.

I know my kids will never say “my mom was always at work” because I simply haven’t been. It is important they know being in business gives great flexibility and rewards, but nothing comes without hard work.

Who or what has been your greatest influence?

MN: My mum was a single mum who owned her own businesses back in the day when most mums didn’t work. She was the only mum that drove when I was a kid, but she drove a car and a delivery van, both of which she owned and she had bought with cash!

She really didn’t care what anyone thought about her which was really liberating. If she had stopped to listen to the advice women during her generation were given she would have never had her shops; created employment for staff; retired at 55; served her communities; inspired me and my girls to go do what you want.

She is still going strong and her advice is always fairly spot on, even though she really knows nothing about yoga or pilates: business is business whichever sector you are in.

What one piece of advice would you give other mums interested in starting a business?

MN: There were a lot of people who laughed at me when I said I was giving up a well paid job to be a yoga teacher. None of them are laughing now. Don’t let anyone ever rob you of your dreams because their mindset is small: anything is possible and I have proved that!

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