Katie talks about her Jigsaw Performing Art franchise that she runs in Watford:
This time last year I felt more empowered than ever to make sure I was on the way to a successful and fulfilling career. I had been teaching for Jigsaw and other Performing Arts companies for some time and whilst I enjoyed it, and still do, I was well aware that it was time to push myself and see how much I could start achieving by setting new career goals. My strengths are that I love challenges, I'm incredibly ambitious and when I set my mind to achieve something I will do whatever it takes to make it a success. In other words, stubborn! On the flip side, I'm not a natural risk taker and fear of failure comes hand in hand with my determination to succeed.
The opportunity to open a Jigsaw franchise both excited and scared me at first. A perfect mix of emotions – I've always believed “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough” and of course there's a lot to weigh up. Luckily, I knew first hand from a teachers point of view what it's like to teach at a Jigsaw school, from a managers point of view to manage one and having worked in head office I had the opportunity to see what goes on from Monday – Friday in the Jigsaw world. Thus, I was very prepared for this new step of buying my own school. The Performing Arts is and always will be my greatest passion in life, but whilst I was an A* student in school, I chose the thespian route of drama school so the world of business was a complete mystery to me! My knowledge in this area was zilch. As long as you have either the Performing Arts or the Business background then you can soak up the knowledge on the other and there will be no stopping you.
After having my initial meeting with Nikki and Andy, I went away to weigh up the pro's and con's about opening my own franchise and started looking at potential venues. The only real con I had was “What if I don't get any kids?” but all the Jigsaw schools currently open all have kids and I had a step by step guide to gear me up towards launching my franchise, so actually it would defy the odds if I didn't get any! The first school I visited was “Watford Grammar School for Girls” after deciding Watford would be my territory – and hey presto, it was like love at first sight! I felt like I had walked into Hogwarts and I could already visualise a Jigsaw school taking place there. That excited me and I never looked back.
I began marketing the school starting in July – two months before opening, and this felt like a steady process as once you have distributed your leaflets, created an online presence, offered schools workshops etc. you have to sit tight until you open. Your mission then is to ensure that your school is the place to be and then word of mouth and continued marketing will allow you to grow. During this process I still continued my other teaching work as usual so that I wasn't taking a pay cut, and yes I felt busy but it was certainly manageable around my other work. The support that I got and continue to receive from Head Office is vital as initially they felt like my back bone. I still need their support two terms in, and I'm sure I will two years in as well but in a different type of way. What's important is that it's always there. Even though I'm running my own business, I very much feel part of a team as we all have a shared goal – to make sure our Jigsaw schools are successful. It's a great balance of having career independence but also having someone there to guide you when you need it.
Of course opening your own franchise isn't easy. I wake up every morning thinking about my school and the same when I go to bed. I've certainly had my moments! If there's a problem – it's my problem to deal with and at times it feels like a huge responsibility. It's not just a case of turning up every weekend and making sure the kids are learning singing, dance and drama. It's a balancing act of making sure your teachers are motivated, the parents are all happy and above all that the children are having a brilliant time. They all feed each other so you're the power source, as the principal, to keep the conveyer belt running smooth at all times. That should not be underestimated! No one else will care as much as you do for your own business, and rightly so. You then have week days to reflect and deal with any issues that have arisen and to keep marketing your school because in the early days you want kids, kids and more kids! However, speaking for myself, it never feels like work and I suppose that's because I love the process of being at my school, seeing it grow and feeling in control of something that is mine. You treasure all that belongs to you – whether it's family, friends, possessions or your Jigsaw school!
It's currently my most rewarding challenge to date. I opened with 33 children in September 2015 and I'm now on my second term having doubled my numbers into the 60's and I have 5 fantastic members of staff on my teaching team. I aim to keep on, keep on growing and who knows, by September 2016 I may open a second school!
My advice for anyone thinking about opening their own Jigsaw school is, to ask yourself, after researching, does the possibility excite you? If so ”Go for it!”– we only ever really regret the things we don't do!
In 2015 Jigsaw Performing Arts Schools are celebrating 20 years of running top quality performing arts schools.
Michael Twaits loved working at Jigsaw Performing Arts School so much, he invested in his own business in Wimbledon.
The opportunity to run my own business was too good to pass up. I have all the positives of running my own business but with the support network and existing good name of Jigsaw.Michael Twaits ï¿½ Jigsaw Wimbledon
Rewarding ï¿½ financially and personally
Flexible working hours to suit your needs
Small high quality network