Tell us a bit about your family?
I have been married to Ross for nearly ten years and we have one daughter, Genevieve.
What’s your business called?
Tappy Toes and I run classes in Gloucestershire
Can you describe it in one sentence?
A unique and captivating dance and movement class, for babies and toddlers and their parents/carers.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
After a lot of research I bought my Tappy Toes franchise in Spring 2015 and launched my first set of classes in April 2015. I only started with two but in September 2015 I expanded to eight classes and have also taken on two Nursery sessions. I was inspired to start running pre-school dance classes because my daughter loves to dance (as do I!) and I simply couldn’t find any classes that we enjoyed in the area.
How did you fund your start up?
I used some savings.
How do you manage working around your children?
One of the main reasons I chose to run these classes is that they are mainly in the term time and I have organised my timetable to fit around school drop off and pick up. I do run sessions in the Easter and Summer holidays but Genevieve seems quite happy to join in.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
There is no typical day, which is part of the attraction! I do like the routine of my week, which involves teaching 10 classes, it’s wonderful to see the little shy ones suddenly discovering their self-confidence and joining in for the first time.
I make sure that sessions are lots of fun as I think children learn when they’re happy. I love seeing all their happy faces and running in to see me to show me their latest funky moves! I spend time in between classes managing my Facebook account and responding to enquiries, planning my forthcoming lessons, dealing with venue bookings and organising advertising. I get a lot of referrals from people already attending my classes, which gives me a huge amount of pleasure. In this 24 hour world I do find that I’m answering queries in the evening as well and it’s amazing how many mums message me in the middle of the night when they’re up with their little ones, but I draw the line at responding at 3 in the morning!
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
I think running the actual classes is the easy bit as the admin and marketing can be a bit overwhelming at times but we get a huge amount of support from Head Office and I’m hoping that things will get easier the more experience I get.
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
I love the flexibility and I also really enjoy the sense of satisfaction as everything I do, with guidance from Head Office, is down to me and when it works it’s because I’ve made it work!
What are your plans for the future?
I am going to keep the number of sessions at the same level until the end of the summer term 2016 and will then consider expansion after that.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Do lots of research into your competitors as well as other complimentary groups. Venues are key and I chose most of my venues because they were already running pre-school classes in other genres, eg music, messy play etc. If you are interested in running a franchise make sure that the support is in place from Head Office, having a friendly voice at the end of the phone in the early days is really reassuring.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Just go for it. I spent a lot of time procrastinating and feeling scared but a friend of mine also decided to buy a Tappy Toes franchise in a different area and she spurred me on to getting on with it and to take the plunge. It was the best decision ever – I love it!