Tell us a little bit about you and your business. When did you start and what made you decide to start your own business?
Hi, I’m Dawn; I live in Washington Tyne and wear with my husband and 4 daughters, and I have been a stay at home mam for the last 11 years. I have been doing voluntary work running toddler groups for the past 7 years in my local nursery. I knew when I went back to work I wanted to work with parents and children, and when my youngest started nursery I wanted to go back to work. but needed something that would fit around my children ,my husband is also self employed and works different hours and I knew I couldn’t afford childcare if I went to work full time . I now run Jittabugs activity classes for babies and toddlers including Jittabugs move & groove, baby sign and sensory play and also baby massage and baby yoga . I trained in June 2012 and started my first class in September 2012.
How did you find out about Jittabugs?
I googled baby classes on the pc and looked into quite a few before deciding on Jittabugs. As I could talk to the founder Caroline Ashworth directly I found it gave me peace of mind and it was more personal.
How did you feel when you had just launched your business?
Absolutely terrified! And excited too. I knew that I had great support from the other mams at the toddler group I had run and also mammy friends from school , my local nursery staff and of course my family and friends, and if I needed anything Caroline the founder was just on the end of the phone.
What were the main challenges or most important things to learn when you first started?
The main challenges were trying to get my lesson plans and equipment sorted as money was tight. I think the most important thing I had to learn was to chill and relax and enjoy the classes and not to overthink everything, as I am a bit of a control freak and I wanted things to be perfect!
Did you get lots of support from family and friends?
Yes I had complete support from friends and family, when I doubted myself they gave me the push to keep going. They even lent me money for equipment and training.
What was their initial reaction when you told them you were thinking of becoming a franchisee?
They thought I was taking too much on with having the children, a husband, a dog, a pony and a house to take care of! But I thrive on being busy and I knew I would be demented being at home without a little one to look after. I love meeting people and helping others get through the scary process of being a new mam and helping them make friends and building their confidence.
Once you had started how long did it take for you to feel for your classes to become popular?
Some of my classes took months to take off and some were popular from the start. I started with 3 and now after nearly 2 years I’m running 10 classes and I’m also hoping to run some private ones for a local nursery in October.
What are the best things about running your own business?
Being my own boss and being able to work the hours tha are best for me and my children. And also getting to meet some fantastic mams, dads, grandparents, babies and toddlers.
What are the worst?
That’s easy the paperwork!!!
For any mums who would like to start their own business but don’t feel quite ready to start from scratch, what benefits are there to becoming a franchisee?
Everything is already set up for you i.e. paperwork, lesson plans, music and I always have someone at the end of the phone if I need to ask advice on the legal side of things and insurance etc.
What support and training do you get as a franchisee?
I had a lot of support from Caroline and also Rachel, the franchisee for Newcastle. I had a day’s training for the move & groove and baby sign with Jittabugs then I had another 3 days training for the baby massage and baby yoga with an outside company called hands on babies in November last year.
What happens in a typical session at Jittabugs and what age groups is it aimed at?
During a typical session, we start off with a meet and greet, a general hello and ask about how everyone’s week is going. Then, for example the move and groove, we would start with our hello song then a few warm up songs before getting into our theme of the week and bringing out our props; feather, balls the parachute and of course the bubble machine! At the end of a session we have a calm down and sing relaxing songs with our goodbye song at the very end, and an opportunity to chat after the session.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I love being with my family. The children are very lucky to have two ponies that we share, so a lot of our time is spent at the stables, with the children riding and me muck picking, ha ha!!!
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about starting up their own business?
It’s very stressful starting your own business, speak to as many people as you can about their experiences, do a lot of research and if your still sure then go for it!! If you don’t try you’ll never know.
What plans do you have for your business in the future?
I’m going to keep on enjoying my classes and hopefully expand some of my classes into surrounding areas. I’m starting some new baby massage and yoga classes in some fantastic new venues so let’s see where that takes me, exciting times ahead !!!
Where can we find out more about your Jittabugs sessions?
You can find out more about jittabugs by checking out the website jittabugs.com or my facebook page is Jittabugs Tyne and Wear dawn or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a ring on 07887573096
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