Sarah Mullen is a guest author for Wikizine. She has recently started her own agency business and encourages and supports people who are keen to return to work after a break. Sarah tells us her story in this month's issue:
The idea for Flying Colours, a private English Tutoring Service, came about earlier this year. It was the summer holidays and I was on the train returning from a hen weekend in London. Armed with a range of magazines, I found myself drawn to a feature on women who had started out on a new business venture and had never looked back (both in terms of job satisfaction and financially!).
I have been teaching English for fourteen years and, from time to time, have tutored students to support my income and know of other teachers who have done the same. Over the years, teaching and managing the delivery of English within schools, has become a stressful and emotionally draining experience.
All pupils are expected to pass with a grade C or above at GCSE and a lot of the creativity has been replaced by relentless preparation for examinations. Parents of primary school children are only too aware that, to get in the school and sets of their choice, only level 5’s will do and they will do anything they can to ensure their child gets the best start in life. This got me thinking; were there any tutoring services out there that specialised in English? I was sure there would be a demand and was keen to look into it further.
When I got home, I began some tentative research and discovered there weren’t many advertising their services in the Warrington and surrounding areas and those who were, were offering general tuition, not specialising in English. My husband is a very good artist and he quickly began suggesting possible names and designs (all the research suggested we needed something different and by googling the word success, we came across Flying Colours). Once we had the name, he quickly set about designing the flyer. I have no business background but having taught A Level Media Studies, I had some vague ideas about advertising.
I knew I had 10 friends from the primary and secondary sector who were keen to go under the umbrella of Flying Colours and pay me a small cut from the money they made and that was enough for me to get this thing up and running. My husband runs a small dog grooming business as a second income and had made some contacts in advertising, so we initially decided on a mail shot of 5,000 houses in two key areas of Warrington.
I also wrote to Heads of English in 27 schools to outline our service and ask for their support in recommending us to prospective parents who are looking for highly experienced and enthusiastic tutors. Advertising in the local press was also a must and I knew I would have to find a sum of money to get this service up and running. I am an examiner for AQA (this involves marking up to a thousand GCSE papers each year) and used some of the money I made this year for the initial outlay. Our advert is due to go in the paper this week and from one of our mail shots, we have secured our first client!
It’s an exciting time – my team is made up of primary and secondary teachers (some divorced who are working full time and in need of extra income to put their children through university, some who need the money to support their partners who have lost their jobs in the recession and some who are taking a break from work to look after their children). For me, my motivation comes from personal circumstances. The last two years of my life have been the most difficult and challenging to date. I lost my father, aged 62, very suddenly and this has changed me beyond recognition.
I have also been through a failed IVF attempt and, am due to start my second attempt in the coming months. If we are unsuccessful, we are going to have to find a way of funding our own treatment and whilst teaching remains a satisfying job to be in, it isn’t the best paid of professions.
Yes, the success of Flying Colours would enable us to continue our dream of becoming parents but it isn’t just about that for me, it’s also about ensuring the children on our books are given the best opportunities to excel and parents are safe in the knowledge they are getting the very best tutoring around!
To visit Sarah's website for more information, click here.