The Right Attitude Is Everything

Sep 18, 2017

A Millennial Entrepreneur’s Path to Her First Store

All the roads that lead Karen Brown to owning her own 7-Eleven couldn’t have come together at a better time. From her mom’s inspiring journey as a 7-Eleven owner to a career full of community service, from her intuitive knowledge of 7-Eleven’s systems to the entrepreneur-backing strengths of American commerce, everything came together in one perfect dream come true.

African-American owned businesses are on the rise in the US and 7-Eleven continues to be a leader in support of that trend. The world’s largest convenience retailer is growing and is inviting more qualified candidates that reflect their communities to apply to own a 7-Eleven Franchise store nationwide.

“We have aggressive growth goals,” expressed 7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto. “This is an exciting time for entrepreneurial business owners to join an iconic brand and franchise network.”

Through entrepreneurship, men and women are creating their own employment opportunities and shaping their work environment. With the 7-Eleven Franchise system, Franchisees tap into the knowledge base of over 3,500 corporate employees dedicated to giving them the advantage they need. Franchisees are offered an extensive training program and a proprietary logistics system that automates most inventory and accounting.

For Karen Brown, selling was as sweet as candy, quite literally. As a young girl, the otherwise shy and reserved Karen would buy bulk bags with 20 pieces of candy and sell them for 25¢ each to earn a profit. Ms. Brown got a head start on 7-Eleven ownership through her mother, Elease, who owned a 7-Eleven in Fort Lauderdale. Karen saw firsthand her mother’s dedication to her community, her employees’ well-being and training, and the care for detail with which Elease handled her store. As Karen was gaining experience, she logged many hours there and soaked up all the lessons. “I was a super sales associate. My mom is a very dedicated and strong woman and she taught me a lot.”

Karen’s experience, a will to save, and constant encouragement from her family positioned her to become a Franchisee. 7-Eleven supported her dream by providing her financing, and continues to help her grow her business.

According to the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the number of African-American businesses had increased by 60% between 2002 and 2007. The financial crisis stifled that trend. However, in more recent years the tide has turned and numbers for the community as a whole are moving back up. More and more African-Americans are choosing business ownership with women leading the charge. According to Fortune Magazine, the number of female owned African-American businesses grew over three-fold between 2007 and 2015.

“7‑Eleven is always looking for new Franchisees to serve their communities, including diverse candidates and retired veterans looking for a second career,” said Larry Hughes, 7‑Eleven Vice President of Franchise Systems.

Millennials, according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, are starting businesses at younger ages than their counterparts in previous generations. Baby boomers tended to launch their first business on average at age 35, millennials—on the other hand—start their first business around age 27, implying they’re more eager to start businesses and possibly more willing to take risks in doing so, working hard and doing their best to make their way earlier in life.

“I had to put myself out there to get the relationships that I wanted with my customers. I am the keeper of my own happiness. I go out there and I smile.” She added, “I always try to make my customers feel like they're at home. The right attitude is everything. And hard work really does pay off. What you give out is what you get back, tenfold.”

Her community is smiling back, with Karen’s store being a pillar of sales in her growing market. Karen Brown, a story that’s gone from candy to convenience. She is smart, growing and smiling all the way.


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