What inspired you to start your business?My husband and my mum inspired me to start my own business. After having twins in 2009, my mom sensed that I would not be returning to my day job as a full-time teacher with my local School Board any time soon. After being off of work for one year, my mom and husband suggested that perhaps I could use my skills as a teacher to tutor neighbourhood kids in mathematics. As a result, fast forward to 2012 and the concept of MathWhisperer (www.mathwhisperer.ca) finally became a reality. I resisted the idea of starting my own business at first, as no one in my immediate family ever owned or operated their own business (save my dad who bought a diner back in the late 80s for a short while), as I was afraid of how much time and knowledge it would require. Luckily I also learned early on, that building a business takes time…lots of time. So I started slowly and thus far have enjoyed the process of building it.
What did you do before you were a WAHM?Before becoming a WAHM, I was teaching mathematics and science to students throughout the Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal areas in Canada. I am still a certified teacher with a local school board but on an extended leave of absence. After having twins in 2009, I knew I had to slow things down, as rearing twins is a job unlike any other (a true blessing but double the work!). My small business allows me to utilize my skills as a teacher while also focusing on helping children succeed in a subject I hold so dear to my heart.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of running your own business?The most rewarding aspects of running my own business are the independence, freedom and flexibility I have in creating new formats of learning for my business (e.g. integrating technology, acquiring new resources, sharing pedagogical literature on issues of interest to my clients etc.). In addition, the fact that I get to set my own schedule for the day, decide how much time I want to spend on a certain task and still know that I accomplished what I had set out to do during the day, leaves me with a good feeling.
The most challenging aspects of running my business include finding the right medium(s) to market my business for maximum results, as I do not have a marketing background and finding a balance between my daily workload and being accessible to my children. Luckily I am blessed as my husband is amazingly supportive and he’s always there when I need him to lend a helping hand, despite the fact that his hours as lawyer are very long and not very flexible.
How do you separate your work and home life?When my two boys and my daughter ask me to ‘take a break mom’ from spending all day on the computer or on the phone, I know this is the right moment to spend time with my kids and family. Weekends are also all about the family. I don’t own a blackberry (not yet) nor a data plan on purpose, as I know I would be hooked to my phone, but I do have a devil of an addictive tech tool on me most of the time, the iPad! I would rather use the time I need to grocery shop, visit a coffee shop, park or book store with the feeling that I have no other responsibilities at that very moment. It keeps me sane and lets my family know that they are my main priority and a huge source of inspiration for me to start my own business.
What is your typical workday like?Wake up in the morning at 8am to get my eldest son ready for school. Get the twins dressed so they can help me drop him off for his full day of kindergarten. I usually don’t turn the computer on until 11 am or so, after I have spent the morning with my twins. Once they go down for their nap, I get busy with the day’s work related activities. The day usually winds down a little before dinner time at around 6pm. By then the kids are all rowdy and any alone time to do work becomes fruitless. In between all of this I usually consume 5-6 cups of green tea (decaf or flavoured) and end up running for frequent bathroom breaks.
What is one piece of advice would you give to someone trying to break out on their own?Take your time. I have always had a bit of an impatient streak in me. I want results quickly otherwise I tend to lose interest, or at least that’s how I used to before starting my own business. I have learned very quickly that in the business world things take many months’ even years to come to fruition. I am still advertising my business a lot using multiple mediums to get my brand, name, and vision out there.
Sometimes you get some hits and most of the time you get a lot of misses. If you are in the service industry like my company, the misses can often become discouraging. Make sure you have someone you can talk to about the up and downs you are experiencing as you grow your business. In Canada, there is a fantastic organization, Mompreneurs that is dedicated to supporting women through networking and accessing resources. Find a support network that works for you and don’t be shy to turn to someone in your industry for advice to keep you moving forward.
Do you wear your PJs all day or get up and get dressed? :)I wish I could be in my PJs all day, but since I have to venture out to pick up and drop off my eldest son to and from school I am forced to change into more appropriate attire during the day. At times my mom (who lives 7 minutes away from me) asks me to visit her, so if I show up in my PJs I would never hear the end of it. Having said this, as soon as I walk into my home, the first thing I do is change back into my PJs so I can truly enjoy being comfortable in my natural habitat: My home.
Additional note: As a result of my business model, my fourth baby, MathWhisperer, was recently nominated for the 2013 Mompreneur Award of Excellence. In order to win the grand prize of $30000 (comprised of legal services, resources and $5000 in cash to be reinvested back in to my business) votes are needed…lots of them. If you believe as strongly as I do in supporting mompreneurs and in enhancing numeracy skills for children, then please vote for me . In order to vote you must be a Canadian resident. You can vote once a day every day until the 31st of January. Each vote makes you eligible for a chance to win $500 in cash courtesy of Mompreneur Canada. Your support will be invaluable!