Mumpreneur Profile: Shelley Ensor of Little Signers Club

Name of Business:

Little Signers Club

Your Name and Age:

Shelley, 35

Tell us about your family:

Currently living in Oxfordshire with my partner, Iain, two small daughters aged 2.5 and 3.5 (yes, really!) and our much loved dog, Pepper.

What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?

I’ve been a baby signing teacher for 5 years and started classes when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter having been made redundant.  A recent management buyout of the company I used to franchise for gave Melissa (business partner) and I the perfect opportunity to create a company that we felt was needed within the industry.  With combined experience of 10 years, we really know what it takes to succeed and felt that we could create a company that delivers some of the best classes you can attend.

When did you launch?

January 2010.

How did you get started?

With lots of long hours and a few sleepless nights!  We were left rather in the lurch and had to act quickly.  We have a great deal of small business experience between us but the main concern was getting an effective website running as quickly as possible.

What research did you do before launching?

We have considerable existing experience of the business so we knew that demand was there – quite simply, there are around 5000-7000 babies born each year in each county in the UK (average) and most teachers only see 220 families per year.

We wrote an outline business proposal, which is a condensed business plan, explaining our background, experience, reasons for undertaking the business, our plans and where we thought we needed help.  We presented this to Business Link who have helped us enormously.

How have you funded the business?

Melissa and I have funded the business equally – fortunately it’s not cost a great deal to set up as it’s a service product.

How do you promote your business? What has worked best?

We are constantly marketing and networking.   Every single day.  Local teachers do their own promotion of course but in addition we use social media, editorial, competitions, referrals, linking and much more besides. It’s essential.

What has worked well about your business?

We’ve been so effective that we have had recruitment enquiries, class enquiries and national editorial already!  All our feedback to date is positive which suggests that we are definitely moving in the right direction

What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?

Launching a new company and being responsible for other people whilst trying to juggle family, another small business and our own classes.  Writing training plans, new course material and sourcing better suppliers.  It’s all fallen into place but it’s been a very busy, tiring few weeks.

How do you fit in work with the family?

It slots in really nicely actually and although the launch weeks have been a bit stressful for us all, everything is starting to settle down.  Good organization is top of my list though, without that everything falls to pieces.

What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?

Do it.  Running your own business is amazing, you learn so much.  For me personally, this has been the best decision I have ever made.

Tell us about the flexible working business opportunity you offer and how people find out more.

We’re looking for baby signing Teachers up and down the country to meet demand for our classes!  You don’t need any previous experience but a love of little people is essential. There is a meeting on 8th May at the Oxford Belfry for anyone who would like to come and have a chat and find out more about becoming one of our teachers

If you mention FFW when booking a class, receive a copy of My First Animal Signs free!

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