Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lee Ann Steyns, Founder of Signing Babies, located in Vancouver, VC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I teach new parents how to start communicating with their pre-verbal babies through simple American Sign Language, or ASL. Babies can understand our spoken words well before they can speak back, so adding physical gestures or signs in everyday conversations can downsize the fussing or crying that often happens when babies are unable to express themselves. Even just a few signs can be a game changer for families. An added bonus is that both parents and babies get to feel more confident and calm because no one's guessing when successful communication is happening. My virtual and in-person classes are playful, with a structured curriculum, so parents can learn how to sign and teach their babies to sign back to them.
Tell us about yourself
I am a mom of two who put my background in education as a preschool teacher and recreation centre class programmer together with my personal love of sign language. After teaching my first child simple American Sign Language signs, I realized the incredible potential of being able to communicate easily with my young daughter before she could talk at all. She was a fussy, colicky baby, and I was a tired, frustrated mom who desperately wanted to know how to help her feel better. Finding a way to communicate became my first objective, and signing worked. She responded to my daily signing at 7 months old, and we never looked back. By 15 months, she could sign 40 words. A strong desire to share this tool with others saw the creation of Signing Babies, an easy-to-follow program involving beginner ASL signs while singing, rhyming, and playing together. I teach baby sign language classes for families because I feel passionate about how well sign language works and how successful communication affects the happiness of little ones and their caregivers. Everyone wants to be understood.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm very proud to have taught over 2,500 families how to start signing, and my classes keep selling out year after year. I love what I do and that I get to share my passion with other parents who might be feeling frustrated and unable to respond to their baby's crying. I am also incredibly proud to become an author this year with a signing book in the works!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Asking for help when I couldn't figure out things has been essential to my success. It sounds easy, but it's been a very long growth process.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, I'd suggest setting goals that will lead to creating income, not just getting followers or likes. I'd suggest creating time blocks in your work week to achieve certain tasks to maximize work time. I like to start with the most important jobs that need the most attention and work down to scheduling smaller time frames for smaller jobs. I'd also suggest finding a community at the same stage or slightly ahead of you for support - Facebook is a great place to find other entrepreneurs in a field or interest. It's also a great way to get ideas and see how things work for others before you waste time trying something. Feel free to come to find me if you have questions or want to collaborate!
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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