Determination and hard work pays off

Elie 2.0 is interested in all types of small business. We have chatted to bakers, yoga teachers, sports coaches, community enterprises and a man selling chowder on a bicycle! This month we have been talking to the owner of an after-school club.

Suzannah took over the club at a difficult time. The club was struggling with attracting attendance and didn’t have the best reputation. At the time of takeover, the club was running as a social enterprise and Suzannah changed this to a private, social enterprise.

We asked Suzannah why she chose this type of business…

“At the time I was looking for something that fitted better with family life. Little did I know at the time just how time consuming running a business could be. I had become fed up and disillusioned with poor quality childcare for my children. This coincided with the management committee resigning and the school then putting the club up for tender. I put a business plan together, looked at different options of how to set the business up, outlined my vision and how I would improve the current provision”

We also asked her how her previous experiences helped her…

“Both my previous employment and training gave me a solid foundation to start running a business. I still had much to learn and there have certainly been some very stressful moments. Both my training and employment (social work, early years professional status) meant that I had developed skills for working with people and a passion for working with children. This included wanting to provide good quality wraparound childcare for families. I am passionate about being inclusive and enabling. During the summer we provided free places for children as part of the government’s holiday activity food programme”

Like many businesses, Suzannah found the pandemic to be one of the biggest challenges she has faced and was not sure they would survive. However, being based in a school meant that they could stay open. The school waived the rent and she furloughed several staff members in order to stay afloat.

“In hindsight and on reflection I subconsciously made the decision that I would do everything that I could to keep the business going.”

“In hindsight and on reflection I subconsciously made the decision that I would do everything that I could to keep the business going.”

We asked Suzannah what she felt the most proud of, what had been the most successful thing she had achieved…

“Over the last ten years the club has grown to include nursery children, provide a holiday club and increased numbers. We have had many staff start their journey with us and seeing them flourish has been an honour. I even go into one of the local high schools and talk about volunteering.
When we were visited by the local authority, our inclusiveness and quality of provision was commented on. So much so that it was mentioned at county level. The local development officer for after school clubs has suggested becoming a lead practitioner”

So, any tips Suzannah? What do you think you might do differently if you had the chance again?

“Learn to delegate more!”

This is a very good point to end on – most people will need support at some point and that should not be seen as a weakness.

Elie 2.0 is working hard to provide training and support for people wanting to start or run a small business or enterprise. Please get in touch for more information