After School Activities: 3 top tips for a busy mum or dad on how you choose the activities to keep and the ones to drop?

Jane 1

Family time and relaxation is as precious as learning and developing. The ‘time-out’ is equally as crucial to a child’s development but with so many opportunities out there for after school activities how do you strike the balance and decide what to continue with and what to drop?

“Quitting” is an awful word there is nothing worse than hearing “she’s quit” or “he’s quit!” However we also understand that at different stages of a child’s life they need to reassess their commitments as there is so much to choose from to fill your child’s time and as a child develops and their ability increases in one particular area the commitment to that activity needs to increase.

Swimming is a prime example. Every child needs to swim as it is a fundamental life skill but as your child progresses it can lead to training early mornings, evenings and weekends. At what point as the parent do you put the brakes on and reassess? It may be that you want to streamline their activities and look for one or two that enhance all areas of their lives. It may be that you need to look for ways of helping them conquer presentation skills or nerves or the ability to sell themselves in a part time job interview? Maybe it is at the point where you need to decide which one to drop and which ones to keep that you need to look at what they offer your child over and above the most important point of their enjoyment! Fun is key to any activity that any of us do at any age. When a child is having fun and feels happy they will develop.

This is not an easy exercise but really considering the benefits of each activity is a good starting point. You primarily want your child to be happy and enjoying what they are doing so:

1) Eradicate the ones that they are not enjoying first and foremost however much you want them to do it!

2) Look at the activities that are going to have exponential benefits. Drama is a prime example. The benefit of drama upon all other academic subjects, emotionally, personally, mentally and physically are enormous. As a parent you can no longer rely on its delivery, with the cuts to the arts, within a school setting and therefore enhancing your child’s life by having it as an extra curricular activity will ensure that you and your child reap the rewards. Look at all of it’s benefits!

3) Then look at your time. Which ones work with your hectic schedule and that of your child’s? As they grow up the workload and commitment from school increases and it is so important that you are monitoring what they can cope with too. Look for the activities that take up the least amount of time but hold the most benefits!

Look for those that fit well into the week as a working parent or family. Remembering that there also has to be quality family time and relaxation. Activities at the weekends often end up being missed because of children’s parties and weekends away visiting friends. So again choose the activities that will be best attended because the consistency will also aid the end result for your child. Missing lots of gymnastics lessons on a Saturday due to children’s parties is not going to be helpful for your child’s development and you are going to feel torn and more stressed because naturally your child will prefer to attend their best friend’s cinema party or football party in preference to attending their lesson/class.  You will certainly feel better not paying for something that they cannot consistently attend for 39 weeks of the year.

It is very tricky as we all want the best for our children and we want to give them every opportunity in life but there is only so much that they can do.

We only have so many minutes in a day and what we do with those 1440 minutes really count both as a parent and a child! I was discussing this very point with a young boy who was trialling one of our lessons at Little Voices last night.  I said to him, “you can be whatever you want to be but it all hinges on how you choose to spend your time.” His parent/guardian looked at me and totally agreed. She was so impressed and said “Little Voices is exactly what he needs at the moment and I can see that your lessons are so much more than just training in drama and singing.”

I could see that on the young boys face he had really absorbed what I had said. As we know our teachers can have a profound effect on the next generation and it is part of the life skills and guidance that after school activities should seek to achieve, in my opinion.

When I founded Little Voices (inspirational education for the next generation training children to the highest standard in drama and singing) I did not want it to be seen as just another drama club or music lesson. The groups are so small so that we can have a really positive and profound effect on a child’s education as a whole. As we know the word education comes from the Latin ‘educare’ meaning to draw out. We aim to draw out the potential in every child so that the can achieve to a really high level in life and/or on the stage.

After school activities need to be fun primarily but fundamentally they need to have a multiple function for the next generation. The time of a parent is so precious these days as we are running around as career women and men, mothers, fathers, partners, housekeepers and all in the most glamorous fashion too! The way to get the best results is to use our time effectively and that means using it smartly! Every element of our time and every ounce of our children’s time needs to be balanced effectively. Let’s face it we all want the best for our children. We all want them to be successful and happy.

Every single person in the world has one common denominator – TIME. The same amount of it and it is ticking away at the same rate for us all. Our success and our happiness is a result of what we do with our time!

So perhaps this week is the time to find an activity that serves a multitude of functions in yours and your child’s life? It will help with the chaos of being a busy mum or dad.

You can always ring Little Voices Head Office and we will put you in touch with your nearest Principal so that you can really have a good chat about your child and what they need. It might be that Little Voices is not what you are looking for and we are not right for your child but we will always be honest and every child can apply for a free trial lesson and experience Little Voices for themselves. We are always honest and give our professional feedback to help you in your quest to find the right after school activity for your child.

Do your dreams seem impossible?

Jane 1Do your dreams seem impossible? What are your dreams?

Answer those two questions! Why do they seem impossible? Remember the only thing that you are in control of is YOU. You cannot control anyone or anything else. You can only change your reaction to someone or a situation.

I learnt this the hard way. Being a performer, singer, all round drama queen from being a child my initial reaction was always to rise to everything that got in my way in my early adulthood. Every situation was a drama. However this did not serve me well going through a marriage breakup, being heavily pregnant at the time and finding a way to survive financially, mentally and emotionally.

I will share with you what I learnt and how I coped and this is absolutely the truth, I focussed on what was most important to me. The most important thing in my world was my daughter. She was everything to me, as every parent will know too well, and her happiness and lifestyle had to be right. The success of my new business in 2007 when she was only 3 months old was the only thing that would give us our future. One fed the other and each were incredibly necessary for me to cope with the emotional distress that I went through and to emerge fighting on towards my goals.

I could either sit, be upset, fight a battle with my husband that had no future, despite how I felt in my heart because I couldn’t change him, or I could brush myself down and immediately plough myself into the future and achieving my goals. No one else was going to do it for me, everything else had to stop. Don’t get me wrong I still closed the door most nights and broke my heart, I felt lonely and I really struggled to function at the weekends without my amazing family and friends. However in my teaching room, in my customer service role to parents and to every person who met me I had my face on and I was digging deep to achieve success. It is funny because Grace who now works in Head Office at Little Voices was one of my pupils all of those years ago and it wasn’t until she had been working with me a while that she discovered all that I had been going through at the time she was a pupil – she said that that was testament to a professional who kept it all away from work – I say that perhaps its testament to my acting skills – haha!!

The one night a week business that I started in 2007 alongside all of my other work, jobs and ways of making ends meet and with my tiny baby so reliant on me flourished and still runs successfully today as our flagship franchise model. I now pride myself on mentoring and supporting others to achieve success with their franchises, acquiring all of the right business acumen, marketing and support that is needed.

Hold on to your dreams is the moral of all this I guess. I did and it has paid off.

So if YOU have dreams and aspirations and YOU want something it is down to YOU to get it. And with this mentality You will achieve success. I have no doubt and have seen it happen again and again. We have to make choices for us, this is not a selfish act (I am told I am the least selfish person that people know) putting yourself first and ensuring you do what is right for you long term is the only things that will enable you to make big changes, achieve great things and reach your personal goals. No one else is going to do it! And there will be so many people and situations that will get in your way. They will only get in your way if YOU let them!

GO GET YOUR DREAMS!

Contact me anytime on 01254 207516 or jane@littlevoices.org.uk

What is franchising and why shouldn't we be afraid of it as women?

Jane 1What is franchising and why shouldn’t we be afraid of it as women?

I see franchising as a network, a family, an amazing community of collaboration. Women are renowned for multi-tasking and working together to get things done, being at the heart of every family.

Certainly with Little Voices, my franchise organisation, I stipulate that you are coming into a family and I don’t want just anyone as part of our family. I am very particular and protect, support, care and nurture my family to the best of my ability. I wouldn’t leave my daughter with a stranger or someone that I didn’t trust, like, know-well and respect. Equally a Little Voices cannot be looked after or owned by just anyone that the money to join us. Little Voices has to be part of their blood and they need to be right for us.

While most small-business owners function primarily alone, franchisees are provided with the built-in community of the wider franchising industry as well as other franchisees. Working as a Drama teacher or singing teacher, an entrepreneur or business woman can be incredibly isolating and lonely.

With a franchise, you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. Franchisees have the unique opportunity to start a business with access to the experiences of a network of individuals on a similar journey.

In the case of Little Voices, relationships between franchisees are especially critical to success. We provide franchisees with a network to discuss challenges and successes, regular meetings, secret forums, weekly support amongst many other things.  Franchisees partner with other successful franchisees, to create a mentorship and model for their own business.

The franchise model is appealing to women who are in search of the financial security and flexibility that is becoming increasingly difficult to attain in the workplace. Almost all of our Principals say that spending more time with their families and finding a more rewarding career are the driving factors for investing in a child orientated franchise.

While running a franchise is time intensive, it allows entrepreneurs to structure their time to fit their needs. A franchise allows female entrepreneurs to pursue their passions. You need to look at what you are passionate about, and then that gives you a starting point and then do not be afraid as the title of a famous book highlights, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway!’

Whilst pondering upon your own ideas for a business look for a network out there that may be doing what you want to do and will give you all the support, systems, templates, policies and procedures to get on and make money. It can be invaluable when you are up late at night working on your business that there is a forum of franchisees there ready to help you and support you. There are so many tough challenges to face as a business owner and believe me it is even harder on your own! A franchise network will give you a tried, tested and proven method, you still need the grit and determination to make it work in your area but along the way you can be assisted from making mistakes and coping when the pressure gets too much. You will have support from franchisees that have been doing it a lot longer than you as well as the franchise team in a head office.

And it is a fallacy if you think that owning a franchise will not make you a millionaire and somehow you need to be the next Richard Branson or Alan Sugar. Of course they are successful in their own right and have built huge brands however there are a whole host of millionaires out there that have get there through franchising. A franchise gives you the business acumen, training and tools to reach those financial goals. My Uncle was a very successful KFC franchisee, I have watched programmes on millionaire franchisees within the Dominoes Pizza network and if you build to over a 1000 pupils with Little Voices (putting that in perspective the amount of children in most Secondary Schools) you will reap similar rewards eventually.

So don’t disregard a franchise business, take a look at them as options, it can be handy especially when you have a tough enough job as a home-maker, mother, wife, partner, gardener, cleaner and bottle washer and you want to run your own business!

 

For more information on Little Voices Franchises

Contact Jane 01254 207516 or email jane@littlevoices.org.uk

www.littlevoices.org.uk/littlevoicesbusiness

Jane 1

Franchise questions that I am constantly asked?

Jane 1

What kind of person are you looking for to be a franchisee and have a super successful business with Little Voices?

Someone who is passionate, determined, focused, highly organised, excellent communicator, impeccable time-keeper, and professional, quite simply, someone with the drive to be super successful and perhaps has an entrepreneurial curiosity.

Is it possible to speak with other Principals about their Little Voices locations?
How they found the set up? What challenges they faced? What is the hardest part about launching a Little Voices location?

Absolutely! The answer to all of these questions is YES. All of our Principals are happy to speak to you about any aspect of their journey, where they are up to now, what they have achieved and any difficulties they have faced along the way. I wear my heart on my sleeve and have TWO main principles in life; HONESTY and CONFIDENCE. Little Voices Principals are as keen to attract the RIGHT people into the network to strengthen the network as I am. They trust me that I will only give out their details to individuals who I am very keen should apply to come into the network; and will answer any of your questions or concerns. I also recommend that you go to a Little Voices location near to you, or come up to the flagship Franchise in Blackburn and the Ribble Valley to see lessons in action.

What would you say are the biggest hurdles that I will need to overcome if I am considering taking on a Little Voices franchise?

Often the biggest hurdle for any individual is finding the initial fee. However this can be financed in many ways including:

  1. Royal Bank of Scotland have vetted all that we offer and will fund up to 70% of the fee on a loan lasting 5 years. You must be able to find 30% to access this.
  2. You could self fund or ask for an investor in your plans to come on board with Little Voices. Some of our Principals have parents/grandparents supporting them.
  3. Start Up Loans UK will look to help you fund the full 100% of the initial fee.

What do I get for my initial start-up fee?

  • 5 Days Training at Head Office
  • Up to a max. of 5 Further Days Training to cover Safeguarding, First Aid and Fire Marshalling
  • Full Support ongoing and indefinitely from Head Office
  • All the Templates and Materials that you need to get started and get pupils through the door
  • Personalised Business Stationery
  • Marketing materials Flyers, banners etc
  • Website within Little Voices site set up and emails
  • Copy of the Principal’s Handbook
  • Attendance at Franchisee Meetings for 1 year
  • Access to Little Voices library of Scripts for Examinations
  • Start Up music books from relevant Musical Theatre Shows
  • LAMDA Resources, syllabuses and anthologies
  • First Aid Kit and Accident Book
  • Uniform
  • Free Access to the Tutor Training Course for 12 months for you and your Tutors
  • Subscription to leading Drama site/Your own Micro Site within it for 12 months
  • Full Business Support and access to the Network of Principals successfully running Little Voices locations for the duration.

What is involved in the training

The training is fun, interactive and totally tailored to you. Only a maximum of TWO franchisees are trained at any one time. This ensures maximum time is spent helping you to get Little Voices into your blood and how it will specifically work within your territory. The days are long, tiring and intense but FUN. You learn how to run a successful location including Finance, Operations (including how Little Voices lessons are run), HR, Recruitment of Tutors, Examinations, and Sales & MARKETING. You do not need previous business experience to be able to embrace everything that we offer. You will go away with an action plan, your vision and targets to reach so that you know where to start when you arrive home.

When would the training be arranged?

There are set training dates in the calendar year however you can request dates and if we can accommodate them we will ensure your course is run at that time. We cannot guarantee this but do our best to work with you to arrange your course at the most convenient time for you.

Where do I do the training?

The 5 days Training is run at Head Office in Blackburn. This is important as we feel that you need to meet the Head Office personnel too, even if it is only having your lunch with them. Putting faces to names is crucial so that you know who you are speaking to at the other end of the phone, or emailing when you need help or support from one of them! You also see where Little Voices all began in Blackburn!

Do I have to have a Drama or Singing degree or similar and TEACH the lessons myself?

  1. Some Little Voices Principals/Franchisees choose not to teach. You do not have to be a teacher to be a Principal, however if you are a Drama/Singing Specialist and you want to teach the Drama or the Singing you can teach if you wish. There is no preference from our point of view whether you choose to teach or choose to recruit a Drama and a Singing Tutor for your location.

What will I find hardest after I have received all the training?

This is a business and I am very honest with you from the very beginning. There are bad days, there are tough days, sometimes you are working like a Trojan and nothing is going your way. The best part about being a Little Voices Principal is that all the Principals are here to help you, support you and so am I and the entire Head Office team. In contrast, if you set up your own business you are alone! With Little Voices, yes there may be challenges; you may struggle to find a school, you may lose a pupil through relocation, you may have a Tutor leave; and these days come but the good ones follow and your determination, passion and SUPPORT gets you through and towards success.

What can I expect to earn and how quickly will I start earning money?

Little Voices is a highly profitable business. The earning potential is significant. It all depends on how big or small a part you want it to play in your life overall and how hard you are prepared to work. You start with 12 pupils and from there you can build to capacity on ONE NIGHT OF THE WEEK to 80 pupils. This can generate you over a £1000 in turnover with a minimum of 52% profit margin (this can be as high as 61% if you teach the lessons yourself) within this. You can then go on to replicate on two, three or four nights of the week. The potential is endless in your territory. The profit alone from one centre, one night of the week could be in excess of £20k. There are 5 nights of the week and you can employ as many staff as you wish………… Can you see this is an amazing business opportunity?

What is contained within the Handbook?

The Handbook is your bible. It reflects everything that you would cover in your training and more, so that you have the point of reference throughout your journey with Little Voices. It in no way replaces picking up the telephone to us at Head Office and asking for whatever you need but if is an essential tool.

Has any Franchise ever failed or Franchisee left?

The success of a franchise is down to the franchisee. A franchise network gives you a system, branding and a support network to pull form it is not the reason that a franchise succeeds. Just because you are accepted by us and you buy a franchise this doesn’t mean that you are going to be automatically successful – it means that you are in the best positioning to succeed as everything has been tried tested and proven to work in terms of the business model. This is a business and businesses that are well run – succeed. Those that don’t – fail. There have been no fall outs in our Franchise network EVER. There have been two franchisees that decided that this was not for them and they have left. However the statistics that the franchising experts give us state that “1 in every 10 franchise businesses fail whereas 9 in every 10 new start up businesses” – that is the stark reality.

How quickly can I set up?

Every Franchisee is an individual and the set-up is determined by many factors surrounding you. You can start to locate your venue and market your Little Voices as soon as you have completed your training. Certain factors need to be taken into consideration also: Where you are launching your franchise? Which option you decide to choose for your launch? All of these steps are taken in close connection with Head Office and you are supported through the whole process.

If I am keen to apply. What are the next steps?

We need to have several conversations and organise a time to meet as soon as you have decided that you want to apply for the franchise in your area. It is imperative that we build an outstanding working relationship and respect for each other from the beginning. You need to be certain that this is for you and we need to be certain that you are RIGHT for Little Voices. We will not accept just anyone and Jane is very clear and open with individuals if she thinks they are unsuitable from the beginning. Little Voices is not a ‘make money quick company’; it is firmly based on strong foundations and has organically grown through its distinctive reputation and determination to only accept the best, work with the best and be the best. This ethos provides protection for you if you become a Franchisee within the network, maintains impeccable standards, filters down throughout the organisation from the top and ultimately ensures that we become the very best performing arts organisation for Drama and Singing Training for children in the UK. The next steps are:

  • You Apply and pay your deposit to secure your territory
  • Your references and application checks are carried out
  • If accepted, the franchise agreement is drawn up and we insist that you have it checked by an independent solicitor
  • We have many meetings within this whole process in person or via skype/telephone
  • You organise insurance and your business bank account
  • On the day the franchise agreement is signed the funds must have been transferred
  • Training Dates are booked and go ahead
  • All marketing materials are printed and whole starter pack is given to you
  • Off you go!

This is a brief description of the process.

How to decide about the territory

This is considered and decided upon together. You request a location, we look at this in terms of size, geographically and in terms of population, schools, socio-economic factors, your vision for growth and your ability to do that in the territory. Sometimes the boundaries are set as partial or full London Boroughs, or radius measurements from a particular point or borough councils within a county. It is rarely determined by postcodes as postcode boundaries change.

What is the franchise agreement like?

The agreement is comprehensive and is purely designed to protect you (Franchisee) and Little Voices (Franchisor). Many franchise agreements are hundreds of pages long, we know this because Jane’s uncle was a KFC Franchisee years ago. Many are designed to be very restrictive. Ours isn’t. IF you have made it to the point of being accepted to Little Voices you are the RIGHT person for the organisation and we then want to have a long and happy relationship together. The mission statement for Little Voices is centred around ‘CONFIDENCE’. We do not want to lose franchisees or have a high turnover of franchisees. YOU have ownership of YOUR business. Every franchisee to date has had the agreement checked and NOTHING has been disputed or has had to be rewritten to date. We are proud of this.

If I am unable to self fund the set up what happens next?

We will put you in touch with the Royal Bank of Scotland, or the Start Up Loans UK. This will enable you to discuss your needs with them. If you need any business plan advice or assistance we can help with this and we will work with you to secure the funding. Jane recognised that MONEY may be a stumbling block for some potential franchisees. They may be the RIGHT person but MONEY was hindering their chances. She has removed this hurdle by creating these outstanding relationships. The funding has resulted because Little Voices has undergone intense scrutiny. If the RBS (the market leaders in the banking world of franchising) love everything that we offer, having gone through the business with a fine tooth comb, then this is a great testimonial for Little Voices and should give you confidence.

Can I work a part time or full time job alongside setting up a Little Voices Location?

Yes. Little Voices has no issue with this and this would be the sensible thing to do in the early days. Some people take all the risks and work solely on their business others decide to keep a part time or full time job on until they are secure enough to make the jump to being an entrepreneur full time. There is one saying that Jane loves, ‘If it is TO BE its up TO ME’, and it is! This is a business, we make people very aware that they need to be prepared to work incredibly hard and put the time in that few people are prepared to do. Jane gets up incredibly early every morning. This isn’t because she wants to this is because that is what makes her business successful. You will have to be prepared to work hard on the RIGHT STUFF to make your Little Voices business a success. The best thing is YOU are NOT ALONE. The network is your rock and it beats going solo and trying to make a business work alone. Our SUPPORT and our SYSTEM works!!

The financial commitment really scares me. Does everyone feel this way?

Yes, and if Jane could have removed the initial fee she would have. It is not about money it is about the RIGHT people. However it is a costly exercise setting a location up for a franchisee, training, templates, policies, marketing materials, stationary etc. A Franchisee needs to also show financial commitment and after all the franchisees currently in the network have invested time and money into their businesses and so should anyone new coming in. Jane has a duty to protect the current network as well as growing the expertise and MASTERMINDS of the network by finding the RIGHT new franchisees.

What is the Royalty Fee for?

It is to allow you to continuously use the brand, be part of the network, have access to everything that is Little Voices in terms of marketing materials. This is not just ‘the stuff’ that you get in the first set up but everything else that is developed month on month and shared with you.

What marketing is involved in the National Marketing?

This is determined at Little Voices discretion and we work with franchisees to implement into their area what will add value and attract more customers for them. Ultimately this will include presence in the National Press but as we are a franchise network of relatively small numbers at the moment, an advert in the Daily Mail would be pointless. It is much better to take a targeted approach and work with you on your area to supplement what you are doing in terms of marketing in the early days.

If Little Voices went ‘bump’ what would happen to my Little Voices business?

This will never happen; this is Jane’s second ‘child’, and it has been a success for over eight years now.

What happens if I relocate or need to sell my Little Voices business?

Your first job is to ring and speak with Jane and discuss your reasons and feelings and future plans. If you sell, the money is yours; there are no royalties or penalties to pay unless Little Voices has helped to find the new franchisee. Little Voices (franchisor) does have the final say on who purchases your franchise and, if approved, the new franchisee MUST attend training with the franchisor at the cost of the new franchisee buying your franchise. This is the only proviso.

How long is the Franchise Agreement? Do I have to spend another start up fee again to start another 5 year agreement?

5 years. You need to renew after 5 years to continue to operate your franchise however you do not pay the initial fee again. You just pay a renewal fee of approx. £400 to cover solicitor’s costs.

Would you like to hear from one of our current Franchisees?

Read on:

My name is Julie Armstrong and I am going to fill you in on my Little Voices journey.

I started teaching drama with Little Voices six years ago and in my time with Jane I have taught at nearly all the Little Voices venues across the north-west. It is extremely rewarding work – I love seeing the four year olds, who won’t speak or even make eye contact when they first join us, blossom into confident little performers. I also love teaching Grade 8 to our sixth formers, who have to study musical theatre in depth, learn about the composers, and really get into the theory of our work. There is such a wide range to what we teach and it personally gives me great satisfaction.

Recently my husband’s job relocated to Cambridgeshire and so I was faced with the prospect of leaving Little Voices. This, for me, was not an option and so – armed with all the experience I have gained in the past six years – I decided to set up my own performing arts school – Little Voices Peterborough.

I did indeed toy with the idea of simply opening up my own school. After all, I had seen the trials and tribulations (and there were many!) that Jane had been through and had learnt a lot along the way. However, for me it was an easy decision. I am not, and do not claim to be, a business woman and therefore having the backing of a ready-made, well established business behind me, made total sense.

The training was great – I learnt things I didn’t know I needed to know! The website is done, all your promotional material is there for you, Jane can tell you the best ways to market your business because she has been there and done that! Don’t get me wrong – this is very much MY business – and I still have to put the work in too if I am going to make it a success, but simply knowing that there is help available whenever I need it, is enough.

I am currently in the very early stages of setting up Little Voices Peterborough – doors open in September but the enquiries are coming in and things are going well. Six years ago I would never have considered running my own business – I was a drama teacher, not a business woman – but now I am both! I have had meetings with local business magazines who describe me as “an entrepreneur” – me, an entrepreneur? Well, alright then!

If you are considering opening a Little Voices location of your own – do it! What are you waiting for?

I hope you decide to join us and I look forward to welcoming you to the Little Voices family.

Yours sincerely, Julie!

It is now July 2015 and I can tell you that Julie launched her Little Voices business in September 2013; her first night had 33 pupils so she blew our target of 12 out of the window! She is going from strength to strength and now has three locations!

 

If you want to get in touch email jane@littlevoices.org.uk or ring 01254 207516

Franchises for women

Jane 1

I see franchising as a network, a family, an amazing community of collaboration. Women are renowned for multi-tasking and working together to get things done, being at the heart of every family.

Certainly with Little Voices, my franchise organisation, I stipulate that you are coming into a family and I don’t want just anyone as part of our family. I am very particular and protect, support, care and nurture my family to the best of my ability. I wouldn’t leave my daughter with a stranger or someone that I didn’t trust, like, know-well and respect. Equally a Little Voices cannot be looked after or owned by just anyone that the money to join us. Little Voices has to be part of their blood and they need to be right for us.

While most small-business owners function primarily alone, franchisees are provided with the built-in community of the wider franchising industry as well as other franchisees. Working as a Drama teacher or singing teacher, an entrepreneur or business woman can be incredibly isolating and lonely.

With a franchise, you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. Franchisees have the unique opportunity to start a business with access to the experiences of a network of individuals on a similar journey.

In the case of  Little Voices, relationships between franchisees are especially critical to success. We provide franchisees with a network to discuss challenges and successes, regular meetings, secret forums, weekly support amongst many other things.  Franchisees partner with other successful franchisees, to create a mentorship and model for their own business.

The franchise model is appealing to women who are in search of the financial security and flexibility that is becoming increasingly difficult to attain in the workplace. Almost all of our Principals say that spending more time with their families and finding a more rewarding career are the driving factors for investing in a child orientated franchise.

While running a franchise is time intensive, it allows entrepreneurs to structure their time to fit their needs. A franchise allows female entrepreneurs to pursue their passions. You need to look at what you are passionate about, and then that gives you a starting point.

 

For more information on Little Voices Franchises

Contact Jane 01254 207516 or email jane@littlevoices.org.uk

www.littlevoices.org.uk/littlevoicesbusiness

What makes a great teacher?

Jane 1What makes a great teacher? What makes the best singing teachers or the best drama teachers?

You will always remember the teachers that had the biggest influence on your life from school and other activities as a child. In my opinion those teachers are the most important and probably the best. Just take a moment now to think about the teacher that had the biggest positive impact on you? Who was he/she, why does he/she stick clearly in your mind when most teachers fade into the distant memory?

I think that they had certain qualities that are imperative and when I started Little Voices the fundamentally most important criteria was to have tutors working with us in our performing arts family that had those special qualities as well as the background in performing arts, of course.

Letters after you name and all the education/academia in the world in my opinion does not make a great teacher.

The word education comes from the latin verb educare which means ‘to draw out’. Teachers are educating our children, Little Voices Tutors are drawing out the very best from our pupils. Working with individual pupils and their needs is what it is all about – not imprinting and instructing them but working with them, caring and supporting them.

So what do I think makes a great teacher?

  • An Inspirational person – someone who you look up to, admire and respect. Perhaps you want to be like them? Especially in performing arts they need to practise what they preach!
  • Someone who genuinely cares and is interested in you – it is really important that a teacher understands you and knows your strengths and weaknesses, can help build your confidence and we know at Little Voices that when a child feels happy their confidence will blossom.
  • Someone who can effectively communicate to you – they can change the ways and means in which they present information to you and can help you to explore your own ideas and understand how to do something! Everyone is a different type of learner; auditory, visual, kinaesthetic or a mixture of those and a great teacher will facilitate ever type of learner
  • A great teacher obviously knows their subject and is constantly learning and developing to enhance their knowledge base. They keep themselves current and are hungry for new learning and embrace new ideas.
  • They are passionate, bubbly and approachable but coupled with being highly organised and reliable. Well these are certainly attributes that I look for. Our entire Little Voices organisation is built with these qualities in mind.

 

Does this sound like you? OR does it sound like the people that you would want to work with? Learn how it could fit in with your life and in your area.

 

Look at what we do www.littlevoices.org.uk/business

Look at what our parents say about us www.littlevoices.org.uk/parenttestimonial

 

Contact Jane 01254 207516 or email jane@littlevoices.org.uk

Drama Franchise

Jane 1

Scared of the word “Drama Franchise”?

I find that many individuals in our industry are put off by the word ‘franchise’ some even scared and I am not surprised. When I googled the word franchise I was fairly unimpressed with the description and if I was a teacher, budding entrepreneur or actor interested in the concept I would be very put off researching a franchise after reading the description about what it is. It was totally uninspiring and I can categorically say that I do not see my drama franchise, Little Voices, as a chain store and it certainly isn’t free!

This is what I read on Wikipedia:

Franchising is the practice of the right to use a firm’s business model and brand for a prescribed period of time. The word “franchise” is of Anglo-French derivation—from franc, meaning free—and is used both as a noun and as a (transitive) verb. For the franchiser, the franchise is an alternative to building “chain stores” to distribute goods that avoids the investments and liability of a chain. The franchisor’s success depends on the success of the franchisees.

Franchising consists of two elements: Support and a System. The Royal Bank of Scotland explained helped me to educate other about what a ‘franchise’ really is using these two words. They were highly impressed with the amount of support that we give at Little Voices. Franchising is the applied use of a tried, tested and proven model that works within a safe environment of those that have all the answers and can support you to success. Our model started eight years ago and is certainly tried and tested!

The success of my franchise is absolutely about the success of our franchisees but then I only choose the very best to work with us. I will not recruit franchisees who do not absolutely believe in what we do, our ethos and have Little Voices in their blood. So in my opinion, you cannot blame a franchisee for not succeeding you can only blame yourself for choosing the wrong person.

It takes a special, highly motivated, focussed, goal driven individual with a passion for drama and all things performing arts to be successful as a franchisee for me and I am really comfortable turning people away that are not right for us.

My passion for Little Voices seeps through our organisation at all levels and to be the best performing arts organisation nationally means that we need to be working with the best and all of us being focussed towards the same goal with the same ethos for quality and excellence. I really care and our franchisees really care, our tutors really care and therefore our pupils are happy and well taught. It is why year upon year we continue to grow and parents are confident in our centres.

I can’t comment on other drama franchises but I can comment on ours and our expectations. However I find that many people need to be really educated on what franchising means and what to expect. Franchise is not pyramid selling or network marketing it is the support and use of a system that works in your area.

If you want to ask any questions or find out exactly what we do ring me on 01254 207516 I am always happy to chat or email your questions to jane@littlevoices.org.uk

Even those that we respect the most get frightened!

JaneJudi Dench is one of our all-time favourite actresses at Little Voices and yet you would probably never guess that she lives with “constant fear”, we certainly would never have thought that about her.

However she has spoken about the constant “fear” she lives with as an actor, claiming that being a performer gets more frightening with every job.

Speaking about her career with director Richard Eyre at an event to celebrate Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts’ 70th birthday at the Hospital Club, Dench revealed she is “very critical” of her own performances, and said that she has a “fear of everything”.

She said this fear related to her concerns that she may not be good enough for a role she had been asked to do, and admitted she worried about forgetting her lines on stage.

“I have a fear of that unbelievable silence you get in a theatre when you dry. The fear that an audience sees that thing in your eyes and thinks, ‘Oh, she’s gone’. It’s a shattering silence,” she said, adding: “I have a fear of everything – of not fitting into that slot, of not fulfilling that piece you are asked to do. I get more frightened [the more I do]. The more you do, the more frightening it is anyway as you are much more aware.”

Dench also said she worried about what her next job would be and whether she was “going to be asked again”.

This certainly helps to read about how one of our idols feels about their career and the fear that stirs up inside of her.

So it helps us as performers to expect the fear and to deal with it as ‘the norm’, embrace it when it comes whether that is just before a stage performance at theatre week or before a LAMDA exam. Learn to work with the fear feelings rather than against them with a good breathing technique and a calm approach to preparation. As the saying goes “Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail!” I am sure that Dame Judi always makes sure that she is prepared.

 

How to learn about Musical Theatre in three easy steps:

  • Read widely, the whole play, musical libretto, book from which it is based, use the library and dip into reference books such as Blumenfeld’s Dictionary of Musical Theatre.
  • See lots of Musical Theatre both live and staged as well as on youtube, film and TV. One of the best ways is to see a show staged and it doesn’t have to be the big West End stuff have a look at the smaller scale productions, local Amateur Dramatics productions etc.
  • Get to know the music – look at the whole musical and listen to it all. There are also often several different recordings that will highlight different things and artists will interpret and deliver the music in various ways too.Jane

Top 3 Musicals of all time?

JaneThe top three musicals of all time, according to “Whats on Stage” in May 2014 are:

  • Les Miserables
  • Wicked
  • Phantom of the Opera

What would your top three musicals be?

They probably change over time and obviously our children have a different top 3 to adults! What are your children’s top 3? Reply and let us know.

Equally every time you watch a musical you have a different perspective on it too and learn or see something different.

Mine would be:

  • Miss Saigon
  • West Side Story
  • Blood Brothers

 

Look forward to hearing from you and also whether you agree or disagree with the official top 3!