Liz Leonard’s career has had many iterations— from 22 years in senior healthcare, to part-time fitness instructor, to serial entrepreneur. Now, as a franchise advisor and business owner, she helps others take control of their future, through franchise ownership. “It’s very exciting to help candidates make their dreams into reality,” she says. “We help them evaluate their lifestyle needs, transferable skills, and explore franchise opportunities that match all of their characteristics. It’s very rewarding to help people visualize their life as business owners.”
As part of her consultative process, together they learn whether or not entrepreneurship is truly the right path for the candidate. In addition to helping her candidates understand how to evaluate companies, she focuses on her candidates’ needs and wants. Money, lifestyle, passions, and hobbies are all topics she delves into with her candidates to align them with the right opportunity. “Not everybody’s cut out to be a business owner,” says Leonard. “We help them take the proper steps to get educated, make informed decisions, and learn how to thoroughly evaluate franchise companies.”
The biggest pain point she hears from candidates is job security and the need for more control over their future. Many of her clients are not happy in their careers, worried about layoffs or being “aged out” of their jobs, and are looking for a second act. During the pandemic, Leonard’s candidates felt an increased sense of insecurity with their day jobs and more people were looking toward entrepreneurship. In 2020, Leonard helped seven candidates take control of their future as franchise owners.
Leonard brings her own institutional knowledge into her work with her candidates, both as a business owner and a corporate employee. Leonard’s first business was a large start-up childcare center. As a new mom 22 years ago, working in senior healthcare, she couldn’t find a high-quality childcare facility for her children and knew this was her calling to help more children and families. She leaned on her degree in early childhood development and opened a licensed 10,000-sq.-foot childcare facility with 140 children with her husband Paul.
After years of running a childcare center, Leonard received an offer they couldn’t refuse and chose to sell the business and start a new chapter. Their next investment was a large self-storage business and shortly afterward, a Kitchen Tune-Up franchise. Being in business with her husband, she’s able to leverage their different skills and personalities: “He’s an analyzer, a thinker and visionary. I am a networker, marketer, executor, and decision-maker,” she says. In her coaching business, Leonard works with a lot of couples and finds that initially, one person may be interested in starting a business but then finds that their partner/spouse also has vital skills to contribute to the business.
Leonard was then recruited to go back into healthcare but was laid off after one year due to a corporate merger. Having that experience allows her to identify with her candidates’ desire to take control of their careers and not to settle for something less. “Developing a successful start-up, being part of a large corporate layoff, and owning a franchise business, I’m able to package all that up and share my story with people,” says Leonard.
Leonard attributes all of her career iterations to knowing when to pivot, goal setting, hard work, a solid network of supporters and resources. Even when she thought she couldn’t do something, she had mentors assuring her she could. She joined IAW to strengthen that network and to empower and connect with other women. She reflects on the power of her community, saying, “I realized with the right people and the right tools that I was able to accomplish pretty much whatever I set out to do.”