Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Laura Bloxsidge, CEO of The Learning Hive, located in Woodstock, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Learning Hive exists for children of all ages to have a safe, bright, and encouraging space to enjoy, be supported in, and be challenged to learn new skills. Our mission is to support learners through individualized, focused, explicit instruction in one-to-one tutoring sessions, study halls, group classes, and workshops. Our success depends on our attention to the needs of our community and truly helping them to achieve – we don't succeed unless our learners succeed.
Our tutoring services focus on reading, writing, and math for Kindergarten through grade 8. Every aspect of our tutoring is entirely customized to each student's needs. Lessons are offered both in person or online, and both options are highly interactive. Our educational philosophy is that while all children have unique needs and learning styles, almost everyone requires a stimulating educational environment. We prioritize a calm and supportive atmosphere to ensure every learner feels safe, happy, and capable of meeting their full potential.
Tell us about yourself
Most people start tutoring because they want a bit of extra cash on top of their income or possibly to achieve a flexible schedule for their lifestyle. And that's fine, but I started tutoring because I love it. I love each of my students, and I can't wait to work with each child in whatever capacity. Every small victory for a child is a momentous one for me. I am proud of each and every one of them for all the work they put in every week and for the progress they make. The honour of getting to work as part of their educational team never diminishes truly.
The Learning Hive opened in Oxford County in response to a need - for children to have a safe, bright, and encouraging space to come to enjoy and to be challenged at learning new skills. My vision for the space is to enter our front doors to a welcoming environment greeted by an educational boutique providing access to unique, high-quality educational resources (especially those that make learning feel like play), two bright and inviting classrooms, a comfy seating area to enjoy a cup of coffee, and a play studio providing sensory and messy play, playschool sessions, study hall, workshops for both parents and kids and a learning pod - community gathering space.
The concept of a learning pod may have been borne of demand during a time of great uncertainty, but it is something I have been excited about ever since. Part of the reason for opening the Learning Hive was to have the space to offer a pod and someday develop it into a variety of offerings making up a micro-school. I am driven to on this every day, in part, so that my children can have the alternative education I desire for them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I was recently named a finalist for the Better Business Bureau Spark Awards in Ethics. I will find out if I am honoured with this award on June 1, 2023. Being first nominated and now a finalist for the BBB Spark Awards is a tremendous honour and privilege. Having been recognized for my devotion to character, culture, and community within my business - both as it serves the community and my team internally - validates my efforts to lead from the heart. I have always strived to see the individual first, to make those around me feel valued and cared for, and to prioritize integrity. Being acknowledged for operating my business with integrity validates the principles and values that guide my actions and encourages me to continue to work passionately to make learning a natural and positive experience and inspire my team to do the same.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Having to consistently push myself outside my comfort zone. Whether I have to address issues with a member of my team, promote myself when I prefer to be in the background or learn the nitty gritty financials to help us to succeed - I am always forcing myself to grow and be a better business owner. I am grateful for this growth and to be lucky enough to run a business I love, and that makes me want to get better every day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top three tips I would give to someone starting a business today are:
- Leap before you look: Some may consider this bad advice, but the longer you wait for the perfect circumstances, the longer you're delaying opening your doors. You will never be able to plan for absolutely everything that comes your way; you need to open and get running in order to learn what needs to pivot, what needs your all, and what you need to completely do away with.
- Build Strong Relationships in your community: Collaborate with the other business owners in your community to create mutually beneficial programs or offers, share resources, make trades (free rental space for attendance at a conference, for example), and leverage each other's expertise. Engaging in partnerships not only expands your reach but also enhances the credibility and trustworthiness of your business within the community.
- Prioritize Authenticity: Ensure that your business reflects the values, mission, and unique qualities of you and your community. Your community will be able to sense if your messaging isn't true to who you are - it won't come out of you in your socials, emails, and conversation in a casual or authentic way. Being true to myself and how I view education (with a gentle, individualistic approach) is what allows me to meet the needs of those who seek out our services.
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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