Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Frances Mitchell, Founder of Get Homeschool Now, located in Las Vegas, NV, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is a consulting service that helps design personalized curriculums for parents and children who wish to homeschool but may not know how to get started.
Tell us about yourself
I had been doing this on the side for those in my immediate circle who were curious about homeschooling but were afraid due to stereotyping of the movement. I was doing it informally and not charging anyone, just making recommendations on things like penmanship and other subjects. Some parents weren't ready to take their kids out of public school but wanted supplemental coursework they weren't getting.
Eventually, I thought I could make this a full-time gig and reach as many families as possible who may not know about the concept of breaking away from a school system they've known for generations. I formally began just last year. What motivates me each day is the thought of helping today's children be able to find their niche in life. So many of us are stifled in conventional schools and often are pressured by peers to follow the crowd when they should be making their own decisions about where they should be going in life.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to build a client base and, with that, always being able to find just the right fit for them. People were never meant to be educated "off the rack." We should have a personalized education experience. Sure, we all need to learn at least the basics like math, science, and history, but it's not just something out of a boring textbook. It's about unique experiences like visiting museums, seeing living history (like Colonial Williamsburg), a renaissance fair, or a Shakespeare festival!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Getting started and believing in myself. I had this idea in my head for some time, and I wasn't sure if there was a market for it, and a lot of people I sought advice from shot me down. When I finally decided to make this a reality, I had to go through the process of web building, branding, business cards, and all the little things to show that I was here and had something to offer. I had to admit it was so exhausting doing all that.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- The classic saying for all future entrepreneurs: "Find a need and fill it!" When you have an idea, work it out in your head and see if it is viable.
- Have a plan. I contacted some business consultants who help fledgling entrepreneurs and showed me how to see if my business idea was viable (the SMART test). Once I got good answers from that, it was time to go into finer details to tweak things as needed.
- Believe in yourself and don't worry too much about what everyone else thinks will or won't work. The greatest entrepreneurs in history didn't necessarily succeed on the first try. Henry J. Heinz didn't start out making ketchup but horseradish! Milton Hershey had at least two businesses fail before his chocolate factory became the stuff of legend. Even if you don't succeed at first, take comfort in the fact that you learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I care about education, probably more now than ever before. People used to remark on how educated I was, but all I did was learn a lot on my own. I followed my own interests (even if I was the only one to do it) and came away with personal satisfaction in whatever I found. Even though I was in a public school for K-8, I liked doing my own thing but hated that I had to wait for the rest of the class to catch up. It made school boring at times. Plus, there was pressure from classmates who thought of me as a "Teacher's Pet" because I knew the answer to a question. Apparently, I didn't get the memo that I was supposed to be reluctant to raise my hand in class or be so cheerful in giving correct answers. I find this attitude pervasive even in today's schools, and it only hinders one's true nature and desire to learn.
I still like to read (something that is a lifelong habit I never lost) and encounter new things and learn new skills. Kids (and parents) need to know that they shouldn't be limited to what the public educators want them to learn; they can do so much more on their own at their own pace with far fewer limits. I drive past many middle and high school students waiting for the bus and often have this look in their eyes - a "dead look." The kind in which they are just going through the motions because they were told this is how it must be. I'm there to show them that it doesn't!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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