Last month I was selected to be a finalist for the Start Up of the Year category in the Merseyside Open For Business Awards. Although Lamby and I didn’t win, completing the form made me realise what we have achieved in just over a year.
I often sit back and look at the contrast between my life in teaching and my life now. It’s so different that sometimes it’s hard to explain it to other people.I feel as if I’ve been given a new lease of life. Running your own business is scary, rewarding, exciting, terrifying and very different to the world of education. But it’s now a world I feel increasingly at home in. I wouldn’t feel so at home without the support and encouragement of so many people. I could take up an entire blog just listing them but this blog is reserved for thanking Blue Orchid and specifically Sharon Blaney, Michaela Loughney and Karen McKean. http://www.blueorchid.co.uk/ They have offered advice, support, encouragement and help along the way. I can’t recommend them highly enough if you are starting out in business or even just thinking about it. Look what they have helped me to achieve…
Little Lamb Tales and Little Lamb Phonics
I’m thrilled to be a finalist for the MOFB 2015 Awards. Working in education for 18 years, the world of business was new, scary and alien. However, it has also proved to be fun, exciting and rewarding. I feel privileged to have a business that allows me to–
- Enhance the lives of children and adults.
- Be creative!
- Share my passion for words, books and all things literacy.
- Work with many different people.
Winning this award would be the icing on the cake of a great year. Please vote for Lamby and I.
Please outline what your business does and why it was established and what is your unique selling point.
I was an Early Years teacher for 18 years and left due to ill health. I’ve always been passionate about the importance of speaking & listening, reading and writing. In today’s climate it’s vital that school leavers can communicate with others, access information and make themselves understood using both spoken and written word. The aim of my business is to enhance and support literacy in a fun, interactive way.
Little Lamb Tales – Using my mascot Lamby (who is the brand and along with my writing, the Unique Selling Point for the business), I work as a freelance storyteller for Primary schools and community events. I have delivered storytelling events for The Reader Org, Liverpool Central Library and schools across the UK.
I offer a bespoke story writing project for schools and charities. The resulting story is made into a book, sold to parents or customers and raises funds.
I write stories for children and aim to publish this year. I am the current Disney, Winnie the Pooh Laureate for the North West.
Little Lamb Phonics – I taught phonics for years and wanted a resource to make phonics fun. I wrote a collection of poems (one for each of the sounds taught in schools) and using a local illustrator and developer, had these made into a CDRom resource and interactive app available on both IOS and Android devices. Lamby is central to the app.
I also offer training to schools in the areas of phonics, Creative Writing and Speaking & Listening.
What have been your key achievements in your first year of trading?
I delivered my first storytelling workshop on World Book Day 2014. I have achieved many things since then including:
Launch of the Little Lamb Phonics app – Lord Mayor Cllr Erica Kemp attended along with the developers Red Ninja Studios, local schools and other guests. Since the launch in June, the app has been downloaded around the world including the UK, Australia, India, Hungary and Russia.
Brand Awareness – As a former teacher who used soft toys and props on a daily basis, using Lamby as my mascot seemed a natural thing to do. I find that people (children and adults alike) respond to him. When I attend networking events, people say they know about my business because of him. He is also a focal point for children and often promotes speech even from children who are reluctant to talk.
Enhancing literacy skills for children – Following community storytelling events, many feedback forms have mentioned the fact that parents feel inspired to tell more stories with their children. This is one of the main reasons I set up the business in the first place so this is a huge achievement. Schools have also stated that they will use my training and ideas to enhance literacy activities in their setting.
Bookings and Clients – I have worked really hard to break into the difficult school and community events market. As a result I have a core group of clients who use me on a regular basis. Testimonials from clients have been positive and encouraging.
What is your vision and your objectives for your business over the next 2 years and how will you achieve them?
Over the next 2 years I would like to expand my business further. My vision is as follows.
To be the ‘go to storyteller’ for local schools and community events. I would also like to extend my storytelling clients further afield.
To develop a parents’ programme that can be run in Liverpool and the Wirral. The programme will offer six weekly sessions for parents about the importance of storytelling and early literacy. These will focus on oral tales, and because of this, I hope to encourage parents who struggle with their own literacy to come so that they can gain confidence and still feel they can support their children. These sessions will take place in Primary schools or community cafés.
To expand my staff training programme. The school I have worked with has seen a real difference in their staff’s understanding and delivery of phonics. I would like to offer more of these sessions both locally and nationally.
To see my bespoke storywriting project in at least 20 local schools and to start taking it to schools in the surrounding areas.
To self-publish one of my stories (about Lamby obviously) and continue to write others.
To take part in national literary festivals across the country as a storyteller or providing talks on writing for children or creative writing.
I will achieve all this by continuing to network and build up new and existing contacts. I will take any opportunities I can to promote my businesses, brands and services.
Why do you think your business deserves to win the MOFBA ?
It would be a huge honour to win such an award and I feel that Little Lamb Phonics and Little Lamb Tales deserve it for the following reasons.
When I set up my business I had two goals – develop and launch the app and start to deliver storytelling workshops to schools. I have achieved this and so much more, even more than could be conveyed in question one. Winning this award would certainly inspire me to continue to expand my business and make sure that as many people as possible are inspired by books and words.
I am passionate about my work and have seen firsthand, the impact my storytelling sessions and phonic resources have had upon children and their literacy skills. Reading feedback from parents who say that my sessions have inspired them to spend more time reading and telling stories with their children is so rewarding. Similarly, knowing that my staff training has helped teachers and support staff view phonics in a new, exciting light is a wonderful thing. If parents and teachers are enthused by literacy this will be passed on to their children and pupils.
I am proud of the transition I have made from full time Early Years teacher to full time business owner. The learning curve has been steep and full of unsuspected barriers but I have never given up or lost the belief in my business and what it stands for.
Lamby would be delighted!
Little Lamb Tales and Little Lamb Phonics has been nominated for the Start Up Business of the Year.