Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Adrianne Roberts, Founder of Learning Streams, located in Bethel, CT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We provide quality, hands-on, creative, individualized learning streams to each child, meeting them at their level while giving them space to grow into happy lifelong learners! We work collaboratively with parents, specialists, and educators - creating an educational experience and community like no other! We work with families with children who don't fit well into the traditional school model.
Tell us about yourself
I am a highly organized and creative person that has always felt that I see the world a little bit differently than others. I chalk it up to being homeschooled during a time when homeschooling was the uncool thing to do. I also believe that spending my life finding ways to infuse creativity and whimsy into everyday situations also makes me a bit unusual. I said I would never homeschool my son. I didn't want him to feel like he was missing out on a normal life. Once he went to kindergarten, I returned part-time at an interior design and high-end furniture store, where I began work as a merchandise librarian after my design internship in high school. This was the best of both creative and organizational efforts combined! Just as I settled in, my husband returned to his prior employer in Connecticut. Then the 2009 recession hit, and I was the last hired and the first laid off.
Noticing that my son was unhappy in school and that I was still at home, it became apparent that homeschooling was a viable option for us. I was still adamantly against it, but there was a full-day drop-off program that was offered by our local YMCA that was held entirely outside. This gave me a chance to continue developing and running my business, Fragrant Offering.
Despite the recession being the most difficult time for our family, William began to thrive at home. I began to teach at local co-ops, became an active leader with the Fairfield County 4H organization, and privately tutored students. I started to see not just my child but other homeschooled students thriving in my classes. I began to realize this might be more than just a fluke; I had a unique way of understanding where each student was coming from and could help them to connect the learning dots. Parents were saying that their children were so excited for class and that they randomly recited class information at home, in stores, and were naming the Classical Orders on local buildings from the car window - what was I doing to get their child so excited about columns, math, and plants?!?
That was when I decided to work with another homeschool mom to create an alternative learning facility to get children of all ages super psyched about learning! We opened our doors in January 2017 with 15 beta families. At 32,000 square feet, I felt a bit disconnected from families, and to maintain a facility of that magnitude; you must become a bit corporate. This led to my departure as Operations Director but led to me becoming a creative educator, which is just the right hat for me! Learning Streams has been a labor of love, a heartfelt project to give children a safe space to grow and thrive. A place where children can't wait for class, hug their teachers, and bond with their friends. A dream come true!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Not only being able to stay open during COVID but thriving! Our students were able to move online, and we kept them happy and engaged when most students were frustrated with the move online. Once we opened our doors back in September 2020, we doubled in size from word of mouth from happy students and their parents!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It's hard to wear so many hats. I have to be able to fix a toilet while talking on the phone and have students asking me questions at the same time! I had to learn super efficient time management to be able to fit everything into my day and not drown. I find that you have to know a little bit about a lot of things to be able to manage a business effectively! It is a constant learning process!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Learn business basics like accounting, clear communication, and time management to be able to set yourself up for success. You should always have close tabs on your accounting for cash flow purposes, so there are minimal surprises as you grow. Transparent and clear communication with your vendors, staff, and clients will take you far. Managing your time and developing a solid support system both at home and work will help you to prevent the classic entrepreneur burnout.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Being an entrepreneur is the hardest and yet the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life! If you really believe that you have a product or service that your clients need and are determined to get it to them, the sky is the limit!
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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