Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Patrick de Boer, Founder of CLIL Media, located in IJsselstein, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I train teachers who teach in a second language how to be not just a subject teacher, but also a language teacher. This happens primarily by implementing the CLIL methodology, which stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning.
Tell us about yourself
As a student, I went through bilingual education myself, as it was just introduced in The Netherlands. After graduating, I became a Mathematics teacher and could implement all of my English language skills by teaching in English myself. I taught for almost 15 years, during which I also frequently coached fellow teachers, published CLIL Magazine, and was asked to host workshops on CLIL. Nowadays, I spend the majority of my time training teachers on how to implement CLIL, as I strongly believe this way of teaching benefits both teachers and students.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Teachers who say: "This is the most useful workshop I have had in years" or "Finally something I can actually use." The enthusiasm and feedback of teachers is the reason I get up in the morning.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I am a teacher, first and foremost. As such, all the necessary things like marketing and sales that are key to being a successful entrepreneur require a bit more effort for me. And sometimes, I find it hard to place myself in the position of unwilling, unmotivated teachers who do not want to try out anything new. I simply cannot imagine you do not want to keep improving (and I still teach, so it is not 'easy for you to say).
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in yourself (or: Just do it, but that one is taken). It is so easy to give up or not even start. I have had many people who said that certain business ideas would probably not work, only for them to be greatly successful.
- Be prepared. Try to come up with alternative scenarios and brainstorm with people who are not related to your business. They might just come up with ideas you had not thought of, and this will always improve your planning.
- Be ready for the unexpected. No matter how much you plan, always leave some time (and money) for the unexpected. My best business moments were actually results of unexpected conversations, meetings, brainstorming sessions, or collaborations.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Being an entrepreneur means you are responsible for everything. Getting help and support to do the things you might not be best at will not just save you time but also a lot of negative energy and frustration. In other words: figure out what you do best and what to delegate as soon as possible; I certainly wish I had done it sooner!
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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