2021 was a record year for Stephanie Applejohn and her Merry Maids franchise in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She started work at Merry Maids in 2008, and along with her husband Jason, bought the franchise from his parents in 2015. Earlier this year, they earned Merry Maids’ first Franchise of the Year Award and two additional honors recognizing exceptional growth and business excellence.
This International Women’s Day, we asked Stephanie for her perspective on being an entrepreneur, a leader and what’s next for her as a Merry Maids #EverydayHero.
What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
“Stay positive and remove yourself from as much negativity as possible. At first it was difficult, because I’m empathetic by nature, but once I learned to protect my time and to say ‘no’ to things, it really opened the possibilities. It’s had a large impact on my business and my mental health.”
What do you wish more people knew about being a woman in business?
“The questions that only women get asked, ‘It must be hard to manage it all with a family’ or ‘You’re so lucky to have a husband that cooks and cleans!’ Men are not asked those questions or hear those comments. These assumptions – that it’s more difficult for a woman to do things – can deter so many women from trying!”
What’s an accomplishment or win that makes you especially proud?
“This past year was a successful one. The franchise grew by 74%, and we won several prestigious Merry Maids awards. Looking back, it’s been so much harder with COVID-19, but my business was where I could be in control when so much was out of my control.”
What is your big goal for your business?
“I’ve reached so many milestones with Merry Maids over the years that I never thought I would hit. Now, I want to think about the next 10 years very strategically. Perhaps it is continued growth or optimizing the team to ‘work smarter not harder’ so I can really enjoy the business that I have built.”