I want to highlight the importance of reflecting and patting yourself on the back for how far you’ve come and the challenges you’ve faced when they seem insurmountable.
Indeed, I was reminded of this in May at the 2018 EWIF Awards in London at the NatWest building where I listened to the fabulous journeys of the winners and chatted with all the finalists.
However, it’s fair to say the importance of reflection slapped me in the face directly when the sponsor from What Franchise read an overview of a woman who had won the ‘Inspirational Woman in Franchising 2018’ award, as it turned out the gentleman was talking about me. I didn’t really recognise that until I heard the words ‘no child in the UK has ever failed an examination anywhere in 11 years’ and then it hit me that he was talking about me and my business. I was gobsmacked, shaking and incredibly emotional. I am just little old me, working hard and giving my all.
The awards related to 2017 and we really deserved to be recognised from our work that year. For me, reaching the huge company milestone of ten years brought about an unbelievable year, while I had a lot of personal situations to juggle and at the same time I needed to steer and inspire our franchise network to have a record year in franchise recruitment and growth.
I also was made aware in 2017 that we were LAMDA’s, the examination board we work with, second-biggest customer globally. Every child in our business takes an examination once a year and, with a record 100% pass rate in all exams, no child has ever failed an exam with Little Voices in ten years. We also sought and received an option for our franchisees to gain OFSTED voluntary registration status so that we could help more families by accepting childcare vouchers, we became an EWIF member and we were shortlisted to the top five in the Whatson4 kids awards voted for by our parents.
I love to write and I highlighted my role here, feeling privileged to be writing every month in the Franchise Diaries section with Elite Franchise magazine throughout 2017. It’s a place to hopefully share my knowledge and inspire others.
We received the five-star gold accreditation from the Children’s Activities Association, which is recognition of how compliant we are and how much we put the child first. With this accreditation I can spend my time educating those around me, such as schools, parents, other organisations working with children and how important regulation of the children’s activity sector is.”
So when asked what keeps me going, it’s passion and a core strong belief that what I’m doing is good. I have a clarity of vision so distinctive that failure is not an option and along the way I’m committed to remaining humble and true to myself. I am dedicated to what I do and the greater good that Little Voices gives to the next generation.
I know that my role is split between pioneering the children’s activities, educational sector and the franchising sector. Primarily as CEO of our franchise network, I work tirelessly to defend and promote our brand as an inspirational leader.
When I think back, I ask myself: how did all of this happen? How have I come to have the role of CEO now? I didn’t plan to franchise when I started, I didn’t even know what franchising was in 2007 let alone did I imagine achieving all that we have achieved over the past 11 years. It just happens. Day to day I am grafting hard, hands on and in the early days dealt with absolutely every area of the business, every niggle, every bit of everything.
Cashflow was tight, I worried, a lot and there were times I wanted to give up. I had so many fears that things wouldn’t work out and I’m sure every business owner, franchisee and franchisor can relate to my words. There were really bad days and weeks. Don’t get me wrong there still are tough days now and the problems get bigger the more that you grow but I believe as a person you get better at handling them.
I know every challenge that presents itself is not a problem but an opportunity to get better. If you approach it in that way, then you find the answers and you learn and overcome adversity.
Where did you start and where are you now on your journey? It’s helpful to track back and see what you have done, see where you are and then where you want to be and what you have got to do to get there. It will no doubt involve pushing your boundaries of feeling safe.
Over the years the workload on my own was too great and we have restructured and given individuals roles and responsibilities within the business. This I believe is what you need to grow. This award win is testament to my entire team and that teamwork makes the dream work. I’m blessed to work with a wonderful group and have supportive friends and family around me.
The sun will be shining now we’re in summer, so perhaps take some time to reflect on your own journey. What you have achieved and what do you still need to achieve? And don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back.