Helen was one of the pilots for the Tutortoo franchise which was formerly operating under the Startorial brand name. Helen started her business mid-November 2018.
I am a qualified teacher and had been in secondary education for 25 years before making this change. I had been a Head of Department, Teaching and Learning Consultant, Cross Phase Behaviour Specialist and had gathered a lot of experience working in School Improvement and working with schools to train teachers and work alongside them, as well as working with students and parents throughout my career. I took Voluntary Redundancy due to budget pressures facing our Local Authority, as I had become disillusioned with working in education at that time. I felt that the system, teachers, senior leaders and children were under immense pressure, with no budget to make the improvements that needed to be made in order to improve life chances.
I was brought up with both my parents owning and working in their own businesses. I have always wanted my own business, so I made the leap into self-employment and initially started a baking business (which was a hobby). This wasn't as successful as I would have liked, and so after a while I found I lost passion for it.
I then worked as an examiner over the summer of 2018, which reignited my passion in education, working alongside teachers and in a world where I am totally at home. This made me wonder whether I could make a living in education, without having to go back to the pressures of going back to either school or Local Authority work. This was where my relationship with Tutortoo began.
I knew that I wanted an educational business, but I also knew I needed guidance to make it successful. While I had had a lot of fun with my baking business, I knew I needed a model to follow and coaching to help me develop as a business owner. I initially researched some educational franchises - I looked at Creation Station and Tutor Doctor. I decided against both on different grounds. After a chat with my husband one evening, we established that what I really needed, was a good training course. And that is when I started to look into Tutortoo.
I met personally with Joanne to discuss the programme, and soon realised that there was potential for us to work together not only on the course, but in the future. I really found her common sense, ethical approach to business was what I needed. Call it teacher 'spidey sense', I just knew that we were going to get on, and I had a lot to learn from her experience. She is a true educationalist - in that she appreciates others experiences and talents and is open to collaboration and team working. That is important to me - because that's how I work. She also understood that it was very important for me to build an ethical, exceptionally high-quality business I could be proud of.
Really positive and as I expected, having met her in person. The course is as good as you make it. Joanne does not 'baby' you, and you have to put the work in to get through it. All of the course is helpful, as it really makes you consider all the basics you need to put into place to run your own business. Don't take any short cuts, do it all! Joanne was available for Zoom sessions and phone calls in between, so I never felt 'alone'. We still speak regularly now, and I think of her as a 'phone-a-friend' option when I come up against something new, or need advice. She is a great mentor and business friend to have.
Terrified and exhilarated at the same time! It's scary going into something new, taking a leap of faith, and putting your trust in another person that you don't initially know. I'm glad I did now. The highs since starting my own business have been phenomenal - I just love it. I love building and nurturing my team; the fact that we are making such positive differences to the children and parents we work with; and the fun we have doing it! There is never a dull moment! The fact we are building something really worthwhile in the world is hugely motivating, and the finances are a by-product of that.
I'm not sure I remember - it all kind of came together after the website was built! In the early days I spent a lot of time recruiting and getting to know my team, assessing what they wanted from becoming a tutor. So not hard work, if you are a nosey parker like myself.
I feel like the business has grown rapidly. We should break-even within the first year, which was ahead of my projections. In terms of turn over from month 1-2 we increased revenue by 51%, month 2-3 by 39%, month 3-4 by 51%, month 4-5 by 55%. We look to be able to sustain this healthy pattern until the summer term, and then have plans to keep revenue ticking over by providing summer schools. My hope is also to build the team's capacity further over the summer holidays to make sure we are ready for the 'onslaught' in September.
Absolutely. If you have the right mind-set, are determined, willing to push yourself out of your
comfort zone, it is made for you.