Meet Vanessa. She's our Business Spotlight of the week and one of the many, new business owners that just on-boarded her business onto Handlr. Vanessa operates a tutoring business in North County San Diego, and we are so excited to watch her business grow with us. We asked her a couple questions about her journey of starting her business and what inspires her to keep growing.
Q. How did you start your business?
A. I started my business by saying “Yes” to opportunities. I was a newly credentialed substitute teacher struggling to get a job in a poor job market for San Diego teachers. I had begun tutoring to supplement my income and made the big decision to stop substitute teaching and focus on tutoring. After 3 years, my schedule was packed and I was still getting new student requests so I decided to start Mrs. Owl’s Tutors and bring on like-minded tutors to help me out. Three years later, we continue to grow and I now have a part time office manager and part time office assistant! We have over 50 students now!
Q. What was your biggest struggle in the process?
A. My biggest struggle in the process was and still is balancing the number of tutors and the number of students. At this point I am constantly looking for qualified new tutors to keep up with the student requests.
Q. What’s one product/business tool you can’t live without?
A. One thing I can’t live without is my office space. I joined a co-working space that is only for female entrepreneurs and business owners, called Hera Hub. It’s an amazing community of strong, intelligent, brave women who support each other.
Q. What’s your favorite inspirational quote?
A. My favorite inspirational quote for my business is: We “bring an attitude of acceptance and interest.” from Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. My favorite inspirational quote for myself is: “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”
— L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Q. Which historical person do you most look up to?
A. My historical person that I most look up to is Maya Angelou. She is a strong woman who isn’t afraid of being honest. Her words are beautiful and deep reaching. She is the Phenomenal Woman.
Q. If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
A. If I could be an animal, I would be a tiger. I know, don’t I want to be an owl? That’s my business animal! Frankly, I just would want to be an animal that is at the top of the food chain, I don’t relish the idea of being eaten by a predator.
Q. What does your typical weekday look like?
A. My typical weekday looks like a whirlwind. I am a Stay At Home Mom/ Small Business Owner. I have a 3 month old, Lucas, who (so far) allows me to cram a few hours of work in. So, my day tends to be spent bouncing between taking care of Lucas and taking care of my business. It’s too exhausting to get into specifics.
Q. How many hours do you spend on marketing, sales, scheduling, employee/contractor management, customer communication, accounting, business development, other?
A. Hours spent on different tasks per week are:
- Marketing – 1-2 hours, word of mouth works best, but we do have a Facebook page, a Yelp page, and a website (www.mrsowlstutors.com).
- Scheduling – Many hours - depending on new students and changes in existing students schedules.
- Tutor Management – 4 hours – I help tutors when they need support, offer materials for them to borrow, and deal with any issues that come up.
- Customer Communication – 3 hours – I check in with new families after their first session, talk with parents about any questions or concerns and take care of any payment questions.
- Accounting – 3 hours – we cross check tutoring sessions to try to avoid incorrect invoices, process payments, etc.
- Business Development – 3 hours
Q. What’s your favorite business hack?
A. My favorite business hack is having other people do the work!
Q. What does your morning routine look like?
A. My morning routine is: Wake up and feed Lucas, put him back to sleep, eat, work for about 2 hours, then feed Lucas again.
Q. Where do you see your business in 5 years?
A. In five years, I hope to be offering tutoring to families all over San Diego County, if not more!
Q. If you could do anything right now, what would it be and why?
A. If I could do anything right now, I would sleep!
Q. If you could go back and change anything when you first started your business, what would it be and why?
A. I don’t have anything I would go back and change at the start of my business. Starting my own business was scary, but I did it anyway. I appreciate what I’ve learned along the way and I don’t regret those lessons.