THE BLOG
12/18/2013 11:14 am ET Updated Feb 17, 2014

Women in Business: Q&A with Isabell Estes, Entrepreneur's Source franchisee

Isabell Estes is a singer, actor, wife, mother, and by the way... a successful franchisee of the Entrepreneur's Source, a leading career and franchise Business Coaching Company.

Isabell takes her job above and beyond while also participating is programs that help support women in the workplace. Isabell has been a part of WEBB (Women Empowered by Business) for the past six years as well as starting her own group with women who inspire her.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
As a U.S. born daughter of Filipino immigrants raised in a small town in Kansas, I truly believe this is the land of opportunity and that anything is possible with the right attitude, hard work and perseverance. I married the right person 25 years ago and he has been a huge supporter in my career. As a mother of two teenage female athletes and a pre-teen son following in their footsteps, I have learned to be a better time manager, laser-like in my focus and flexible in every situation.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position as a franchisee of the Entrepreneur's Source?
I can relate to my clients at many levels because of my diverse professional background. I've been employed by a large corporate organization, a K-12 metro school district, an entrepreneurial company and have led a board that oversaw a non-profit that focuses on developing community leaders.

Along with job experience, I also understand the personal struggles that go along with a career. I know what it's like to be worried about your job after your company has been acquired. I know the guilt you feel when you've been spared after a massive layoff and I know the pain you feel when you've been "transitioned" out. I know rejection, stage fright and self-doubt as an actor and singer who has been on hundreds of auditions. Those experiences help me relate to my clients on multiple levels.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
First and foremost, creating a good work/life balance starts by believing that it is possible to do so. You can find your perfect balance by prioritizing what's important, having a sense of humor,keeping a positive outlook and being married to the right partner. It also doesn't hurt having someone come and clean your house every couple of weeks!

What are the highlights and challenges been during your tenure as a franchisee?
My job as a franchisee of the Entrepreneur's Source has allowed me the flexibility that I crave. I can take my son to the bus stop in the morning and pick him up from school, and I have the time to attend almost every school and sporting event for my kids, along with traveling with my daughters as they pursue their dreams of being college athletes. I am able to do all of this while still serving my clients.

Starting up my own franchise at the beginning was difficult. I had to do everything -acting as bookkeeper, receptionist, marketer, IT specialist, etc. I also had a hard time turning off the "work" clock when I first started, and I had to find a way not to let all of those set-backs derail me mentally.

What advice can you offer individuals who are seeking to become a franchisee?
Know your big picture goals and see the business as a vehicle to get you where you want to be. Keep an open mind. Be a student of business. And, by all means, talk to other franchisee owners before you invest. Ask them advice for your business plan, why they invested in that business versus others, and if they were in your shoes today, would they do it again.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Women often practice self-doubt, which holds us back. We don't want to be seen as too pushy, assertive or not nice. Men are respected when they make tough business decisions, while I was called the "b" word when I practiced assertiveness. Luckily, through those moments, I had my sisters and a female boss who encouraged and mentored me. Once I realized the value of "me," I became a better business person, negotiator, team player and leader.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I just recently picked it up on a business trip and have only read the first few chapters. I love the dialogue she has created among all women, which I think is healthy. I laughed when she relayed the story about being bossy since she was little. My mother has said I've been that way since I was a babe and my siblings will tell you that they call me "princess" for a reason!

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have been so fortunate to have both female and male mentors. I had a female co-worker who was gutsy enough to approach her bosses with a proposal that would allow her to condense her work week and work part-time from home so she could be there when her kids came off the bus. She paved the way for the rest of us and she parlayed that experience into what eventually became her full-time consulting firm. I can also thank a male mentor who told me that if I ever figured out my value, and decided to go out on my own, I would be a "rock star."And, I'm grateful for the parents in my life who taught me to enjoy the short time we have with our children, to stay organized and to let go of the guilt.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Locally, I admire Lynn Flinn of the Rowland Group, Denise Roddy of Advanced Eye Care and Monica Coombs of South Manufacturing because of their tenacity, their ability to work through adversity and their "pay it forward" personalities. As a singer and an actor, I'm a huge fan of Dolly Parton. She's a singer-songwriter who has written timeless songs, a pioneer in the once male-dominated entertainment industry, and a successful businessperson with an incredible wit and likeability about her.

What are your hopes for the future as a franchisee of The Entrepreneur's Source?
Our theme at our most recent annual conference was "Start With Why" and it really resonated with me. My "why" in this business is to help people figure out if business ownership is right for them and, if it is, continue to support them as they create jobs and stimulate our economy. I want to continue living my dream, being highly involved with my family and continuing my acting and singing career. I am truly blessed.