Your Name and Age: Natalie Cooper. Age: 45.
Tell us about your family
I am married with three children, ranging in ages from 13 – 20.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
As I had always worked in caring and support-type roles, I felt that the home-help and domestic services industry was the right one for me. Also, with my own dad being poorly and elderly, I felt I had the right personal experience to be well placed to help vulnerable and elderly people who needed assistance with their day-to-day lives.
I found the Extra Help franchise after extensive, online research and its ethos immediately struck a chord with me. I could see that it would give me everything I had been looking for; the flexibility to use my existing skills and provide the services I wanted to offer, but I would still be my own boss.
I originally carried on working at my previous employment, part time, while I started up the business but soon realised I needed to devote my time to this new venture, as it took off really quickly.
When did you launch?
How did you get started?
I received initial, residential training from the Extra Help team and was supported to get the business started. They organised advertising for me and were invaluable when I needed advice.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
I love the flexibility of being able to work from home, although I work extremely hard, I still manage to fit it around my personal and family life. Sometimes I work into the evening and at weekends but it’s my own business so I know that, by doing that, I’ll reap the rewards. It’s all-encompassing but I did expect that! I know there are other Extra Help franchisees who work part-time, but I want to grow my business to its maximum potential.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business
Being responsible for lots of different eventualities, staff sickness etc
What has worked well about your business?
Specifically with Extra Help, you need to have the ability to build good, working relationships with both your home-helpers and clients. I get on equally well with my home-helpers and clients and that’s the way I want to run my business.
What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it?
Advertising too far afield for clients and not having enough home helpers to cope with the enquiries
How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business?
Yes he’s very supportive and works full time. I am able to manage the home, our children and the business.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?
I’ve achieved my first goal, which was to equal the earnings of my previous job. I would like to double that within the next year.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
No, I am still in the early stages of managing and setting up my business.
Do you have an exit strategy?
Eventually, if I feel the need, I could sell the franchise.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come
Each new client and home helper match is a small success. I feel I’ve achieved a lot in getting the business up and running to this point and when I reached my initial financial target we had a family celebration.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
Still running and managing Extra Help Stevenage, with a much bigger client base and local presence.
Your website link: www.extra-help.co.uk