People always say that starting a small business from scratch is one of the hardest things to do and it is crucial that the timing is right.
I chose 2013.
Left my teaching job in January 2013 to run a family Farm Shop with my husband and two children James, then aged 9 and Eleanor aged 4.
By March 2013 I had split from my husband. Let’s say that didn’t go according to the business plan.
I found myself at the Job Centre as I had no income. ‘Signed On’ for the summer holidays. Warrington Job Centre will always be a special time for me!
Fortunately, it is located opposite a retail Park that is home to a Macdonalds and a Laura Ashley. So straight after the ‘signing on’ I could go and stroke soft furnishings that I still can’t afford and wolf down a Big Mac which I can always find money and time for.
I moved from the family home into rented accommodation. Thanking my dear, old school friend in an hour of need.
Spent the first two days without gas thinking there was a major fault only to find that there is such a thing called a ‘meter’. An interesting concept.
Apparently, you have to purchase gas from local shops and garages and ‘get it put on a card…’ “Emergency” now has a new meaning in our house. It used to mean ring 999 now it means we have a fiver left until I get a top up from the Co-op.
Getting up and on with it…
July – Sept 2013
The summer weeks were spent dropping leaflets and putting up posters for Conexus. Every conceivable place in the local area had one of my leaflets. The kids were fed up and I was literally panic stricken.
Opened the doors to Conexus.
On the very first Monday we had two teachers and one pupil!
Our very first venues were magical. St Peter’s Church Hall in Lymm, so basic but the atmosphere was fantastic.
St Peter’s Church Annexe in Newton-le-Willows. If Conexus had a cat we would have had difficulty swinging it!
Ok, within the first month the numbers grew to about 10 pupils, across three classes but I was still struggling to break even.
That break through moment…
One of our parents tipped me off that our main High School was having a Parent’s Evening that Thursday for Year 11.
So under the cover of darkness I made (yes, made)the kids fill their school bags with Conexus leaflets and I parked up on Lymm High School car park.
I told them to avoid the staff car park but every car that was parked they had to stick a leaflet under the windscreen.
Also, if a security guard approached they had to run off and meet me at the gates. (There are too many levels of wrong to even begin to feel bad about that night so I don’t!) The kids got a fiver each and had a ball.
Magic moments that stay forever…
The next day, a Friday, I was in Dunhelm buying towels and I kept hearing a phone vibrating. Realising it was mine and as I am running a business having your phone on silent isn’t always the most conducive to success, I had six different missed calls.
Then it rang again, I actually answered like a proper business…”Hello Conexus Tuition, can I help you?”
“I got your leaflet last night from the Parent’s Evening can I book my child in?”
We were off…
There are now multiple venues, teams of tutors, the sessions span as far as Prestwich and the business had gone from strength to strength.
I am a completely different person, with a while new skill set and I love learning everyday about business and the opportunities that comes with the freedom to be an entrepreneur.
I have an amazing, close knit team of superb tutors and we love it. We turn up at the lovely venues, work with the kids on what they are ‘stuck on’ and really help achieve the best grades possible.
I have the been so privileged to have a team that have been with me since day one. Moving roles from maths tutor to Business Manager and dear friend.
It has been brilliant. By my reckoning we have helped over 1500 children in English, Maths and Science, Literacy and Numeracy.
2019 The next chapter
I have a new company, Conexus Tuition Franchising Ltd which is underway. Taking all of the skills I have honed over the last six years; the emmensely successful business model and the passion to work with like minded people who are looking to restructure their lives, I am starting out again.
I am currently selling some of my existing classes as part of new business opportunities and developing fresh territories expanding initially across the North West.
On reflection, it just goes to show that timing isn’t everything. It is always a good time to start a business if you have belief, faith and no fear of hard work. There is never a right time, there is only now.
Much love to Jamie and Ellie and all who have been involved along the way. Here’s to the next year’s ahead and a continuation of this most wonderful journey.