Arawyn Madu taught toddlers for nine years before deciding to open her own center. Three of those were at the Campbell Center at Fort Lewis College. She attended night school for seven years to accumulate the credits required to become a Director of an Early Childhood Education Center in the State of Colorado.
When she had the state requirements satisfied, she took the Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs Class, “to learn the business side,” she explains.
Her comprehensive and well-thought out Business Plan earned her Third Place among graduates who started the class in January of 2014. One of the most valuable skills she learned was how to budget. “Balancing income with expenses, saving for payroll taxes and understanding what it realistically costs to be in business were huge!”
Included in the equation was the need to shop around for locations to lease where the square foot price was affordable. Then, she determined what her monthly fee per student would be and how many she needed to cover overhead, salaries, etc. The class also emphasized the importance of hiring an agency to handle payroll, taxes, and file reports – something she finds invaluable. “It’s one less thing I have to worry about.”
The Market Research section of the course encouraged her to examine local competition and what they were charging. She gained a good perspective on what the market would bare and calculated a competitive price for the quality service she would offer. The research also confirmed that there was room in the market for another center offering services to children six weeks to 36 months.
Formulating a Mission Statement and business philosophy were integral in her success. “I knew what my heart wanted to do, but I had to look at the numbers to know if I could actually create my dream. I could have opened two years earlier but I took the class because I wanted to do it right so I would succeed.”
Arawyn marketed her new school through ads in the Herald and “a useful and interactive webpage and Facebook page. I posted flyers and told friends. This is really a word of mouth community,” she explains.
After graduation, she also met with advisor, Tom Holcomb who reviewed her budget and projections. “He found a glitch that could have been devastating if it had not been discovered. It was so helpful to have another set of eyes on the numbers.”
Rivendell Early Education Center has been open since August 3, 2015. Arawyn says “the most exciting part is getting to implement my ideas and policies and incorporate things I learned in nine years of teaching.”
The Center now employs four full-time and three part-time teachers and “runs smoothly.”