Many people reach a stage in their life when they feel that the old routine is no longer working for them. However, few people have the confidence to make changes and find a new career or even branch out to running their own business.
Debbi Ledwith, age 49, from Berkshire, qualified as a secondary school teacher of performing arts in 1992 and has been Head of Performing Arts at a school in Basingstoke since 2000.
"Due to a change in my personal circumstances, I wanted to spend more time with my three young children, and needed more flexibility in my working life than teaching could give me."
A friend of Debbi’s introduced her to Razzamataz Theatre Schools, a part-time performing arts franchise.
"My friend knew I was looking for a career change and she suggested it to me as an option. I have never run my own business before and I had never really considered it until I found out more about Razzamataz."
After meeting with the Head Office team, Debbi decided to invest in a franchise and launched Razzamataz Newbury in September 2015.
"After the first session I had 42 students. At the end of the spring term this year, I had 153 students. I’m really pleased with how quickly my school has grown and this has been one of my biggest successes. I like setting myself challenges to improve further."
Of course, it has not all been plain sailing and there have been many learning curves and challenges to overcome.
"I have had to learn that I don’t always need to say 'yes' and I’m still working on when I should shut down my computer for the night. My biggest challenge has been to trust my instincts and be prepared to take risks. For example, taking the plunge and opening new classes, taking on new products such as Razz Tots and hiring extra teachers to facilitate all of this."
Being brave and starting a new chapter in her life has certainly paid off for Debbi who now has a work/life balance that fits around her family.
"I love having my own business and being my own boss. I am working towards the position where I can do it full time, so that I can really devote my creative mind to growing my school. My three children attend Razzamataz and are really enjoying it. I am able to do my work when they are in bed, so I don’t lose any time with them."
In such a short space of time, Debbi has grown her school to start to allow her the type of lifestyle that she was missing out on. To succeed in business, it is important to keep growth firmly on the agenda.
"Next year I would like to be able to open an afternoon school too and take my numbers up to 250 students. A tough goal but I will get there."
All the Razzamataz schools offer a varied curriculum to create 'triple threat performers'. During the singing, dancing and acting classes, the children are exposed to a range of genres from street dance and commercial singing through to more traditional West End musical theatre to make them rounded performers. Throughout the classes, the emphasis is on having fun and working as a team to teach valuable life skills that all students will benefit from.
There are almost 50 part-time Razzamataz schools up and down the UK with Principals coming from a wide range of backgrounds, achieving successful businesses that fits flexibly around their lifestyles.
There are many parents (and a grandparent) with young children, teachers who have left the profession to focus on Razzamataz and performers who combine working professionally with being a school Principal.
Many people have have found a rewarding long term career through franchising with Razzamataz Theatre Schools.
Razzamataz Theatre Schools franchise, with almost 50 schools throughout the UK, has many retired performers as Principals.
Nick Furlong and Gemma Hextall bought Razzamataz Sutton Coldfield in June 2015.
Jessica Chandler Smith has seen her Razzamataz franchise in Brentwood achieve huge success in just a few short weeks.
Lauren Kirkbride joined Razzamataz Theatre Schools as a student and now runs her own franchise.
The new Principals at Razzamataz are all set for their September openings after completing a week long extensive training session.
Shanley Booth launched Razzamataz Derby in 2007 and has renewed her franchise agreement for a further five years.
Michael French launched Razzamataz Barnet in April 2012 and has recently renewed his franchise agreement for a further five years.
Proving that age is really just a number, Pam Dixon, has run her Razzamataz Theatre Schools franchise since 2008.
Charlotte Young, the Principal of Razzamataz West Cumbria first became a franchisee in October 2006.
The Razzamataz Theatre Schools network continues to grow with the launch of two new London schools as well as a school in the North East.
At Razzamataz's recent training week, three new franchisees who have bought franchise re-sales, joined the franchisees who are launching in new territories.
Razzamataz have a number of franchisees who are either former teachers or combining part-time teaching with being a Razzamataz franchisee.
The support and training we get means that we can get help on any aspect of our business. It has also been a fantastic and rewarding way of working, allowing me to continue to be there for the family while running my own business.Lisa Roberts, Razzamataz Rickmansworth
I specifically wanted to go for a franchise, and in particular Razzamataz because of the support from Head Office and other Principals. This is a network of theatre school owners so you are in business for yourself but not by yourself.Alison Beveridge, Razzamataz Durham.
I don’t have a business background so after deciding to retire from professionally performing it was the memories of Razzamataz on Dragons’ Den that set the wheels in motion. I was really inspired by the brand and the business model and because it is a franchise business we receive a lot of help and support from Head Office as well as on-going training so I can make Razzamataz Barnet the success that I believe it can be. In the last 12 months, I have doubled my student numbers in a very competitive market and I have now clear plans on how I would like my business to progress this year.Michael French, Razzamataz Barnet
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