#LearningCurve: Giving little ones a solid foundation
What is your core service?
I started Khula Education (Pty) Ltd with the vision of providing a variety of services and products aimed at helping children develop holistically, and assist them in realising their natural talents and potential.
What made you venture into this type of industry?
As a practising senior and FET (Further Education and Training) phase language educator and new mom, I realised that the need existed for high-quality, relevant and innovative learning experiences for children.
I was ready to step outside of the comfort zone of being an employee and pursue my desire to design programmes, approaches and activities that would create learning opportunities, talent realisation and support for parents, children and educators.
In a nutshell, it was the desire to help our youth lay the best possible foundations for school readiness, right through to job-market readiness, that inspired me to launch Khula Education.
When did you see the opportunity to start the business?
Teaching high school pupils made it apparent that many South African are not achieving – or realising – their optimal potential because often the focus on holistic development begins too late in the child’s education journey.
We need early childhood and other developmental progammes that encourage overall school-readiness and life-readiness.
What makes your business unique?
Having taught at FET level, and with a year of recruitment under my belt, I think I have a real understanding of what it means to begin your child’s education journey with the end in mind.
I fully understand the dynamics and experiences that the child will face inside and outside the classroom during formal education, as well as realise how much work it takes to build up a personal brand that makes one “marketable” or “investable” when you enter the job market.
We need to build within our children the coping skills to master those areas of their own lives eventually.
Furthermore, while we teach, we learn; and so I have made it my mission to ensure that I do not stop researching, networking and collaborating so as to broaden our knowledge as educators and ECD practitioners, and in doing so ensuring that what we include in the Khula programmes remains current, relevant and invaluable to our children.
Collaboration is essential for small business success, particularly in education, which lies at the core of society.
Therefore, I ensure that I pursue and maintain enriching symbiotic working relationships with numerous stakeholders in education and healthy child development.
If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?
I always say there is no better place to begin a business like this than in the classroom itself.
In order to ensure that your programme remains truly valuable and relevant, you need to keep your ear to the ground on all matters affecting our children as they learn.
Furthermore, you need to ensure that you have fully explored methods and approaches that are linked to the running of a safe, secure and smooth-running playschool.
Lastly, one needs a solid understanding of what it takes to administrate, operate and grow a business brand from its conception to where it begins to flourish.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before even getting off the ground?
The greatest challenges for emerging entrepreneurs, in my experience must be gaining access to capital as banks expect business to have run for a few years before they really willing to assist you, as well as sourcing information and assistance in terms of the legislation and business registration.
Any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?
While it helps to follow trends in business, always remain true to the passion and the reasons that initially drove you start your business.
If you do what you love, you will love what you do!
But, always remember, that in small business ownership you must be prepared to deal with a number of aspects and challenges that you might not love, but rather, that you need to learn to love in order to keep sailing your business ship as smoothly as possible.
What are some of the biggest challenges in running the day-to-day side of the business?
One often feels like the proverbial “Jack of all trades and master of none” when running one’s own business.
Time is a constant challenge, and if one doesn’t make an effort to stop for a “break” you could easily find yourself immersed in work 24/7.
You are immersed in the actual provision of the service you render, while at the same time grafting away in the “engine-room” where one addresses the administrative demands of owning, managing and effectively running one’s own business.
If you let either slip too much, you lose your grip, so it does become a constant juggling act that makes one wish you could work around the clock.
What are the some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
I have worked in hospitality PR, marketing, recruitment, and education – and the culmination of all of these experiences has allowed me to start a business that draws from all of those past experiences.
Furthermore, I ensure that my team and I always deliver of our very best, every day, in order to provide the children engaged in our programme with the very best playschool experiences that they deserve.
How did you decide on pricing?
My prices are market-related, and I put together my fee structure in accordance with the costs involved in running a business like this.
What kind of advertising do you do?
Word-of-mouth advertising has always been our most successful form of advertising, as education is a transparent industry where bells, whistles and catchy slogans don’t mean much if you are not living up to them.
Secondly, we have an active social media page that receives a lot of coverage and allow prospective parents to get a glimpse into the world of Khula Kids Playschool.
What are some of your highlights in running your business?
Having partnered with very trusted stakeholders in the early childhood development realm in PE, and having formed lasting networks with successful professionals in child development and education.
Also, having won the 2017 Business Women’s Association Regional Business Achiever Award in the Emerging Entrepreneur category.
How many people does your enterprise employ?
My business has seven full-time employees, and it further provides a space where other service providers who run specialised children’s programmes are able to offer their services every week.
Do you have plans to expand your business and how would you do this?
I will always have plans to grow and expand the footprint of Khula Education, and there are many dreams and ideas that we continue to work towards realising every day.
Watch this space!