Many people reach a stage in their life when they feel that the old routine is no longer working for them. However, few people have the confidence to make changes and find a new career or even branch out to running their own business.
Debbi Ledwith, age 49, from Berkshire, qualified as a secondary school teacher of performing arts in 1992 and has been Head of Performing Arts at a school in Basingstoke since 2000. “Due to a change in my personal circumstances, I wanted to spend more time with my three young children, and needed more flexibility in my working life than teaching could give me,” says Debbi.
A friend of Debbi’s introduced her to Razzamataz Theatre Schools, a part-time performing arts franchise. “My friend knew I was looking for a career change and she suggested it to me as an option,” explains Debbi. “I have never run my own business before and I had never really considered it until I found out more about Razzamataz.”
After meeting with the Head Office team, Debbi decided to invest in a franchise and launched Razzamataz Newbury in September 2015. “After the first session I had 42 students,” says Debbi. “At the end of the spring term this year, I had 153 students. I’m really pleased with how quickly my school has grown and this has been one of my biggest successes. I like setting myself challenges to improve further.”
Of course, it has not all been plain sailing and there have been many learning curves and challenges to overcome. “I have had to learn that I don’t always need to say ‘yes’ and I’m still working on when I should shut down my computer for the night,” says Debbi. “My biggest challenge has been to trust my instincts and be prepared to take risks. For example, taking the plunge and opening new classes, taking on new products such as Razz Tots and hiring extra teachers to facilitate all of this.”
Being brave and starting a new chapter in her life has certainly paid off for Debbi who now has a work/life balance that fits around her family. “I love having my own business and being my own boss,” says Debbi. “I am working towards the position where I can do it full time, so that I can really devote my creative mind to growing my school. My three children attend Razzamataz and are really enjoying it. I am able to do my work when they are in bed, so I don’t lose any time with them.”
In such a short space of time, Debbi has grown her school to start to allow her the type of lifestyle that she was missing out on. To succeed in business, it is important to keep growth firmly on the agenda as she explains: “Next year I would like to be able to open an afternoon school too and take my numbers up to 250 students. A tough goal but I will get there.”
All the Razzamataz schools offer a varied curriculum to create ‘triple threat performers’. During the singing, dancing and acting classes, the children are exposed to a range of genres from street dance and commercial singing through to more traditional West End musical theatre to make them rounded performers. Throughout the classes, the emphasis is on having fun and working as a team to teach valuable life skills that all students will benefit from.
There are almost 50 part-time Razzamataz schools up and down the UK with Principals coming from a wide range of backgrounds, achieving successful businesses that fits flexibly around their lifestyles.
There are many parents (and a grandparent) with young children, teachers who have left the profession to focus on Razzamataz and performers who combine working professionally with being a school Principal.
To find out if franchising is the right option, the Head Office run Discovery Den days across the UK where potential franchisees get a chance to meet the team, find out more about franchising in general and discover what it is like to run a part-time theatre school. www.razzamataz.co.uk