TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?
I am an educator and entrepreneur. During the pandemic, I launched Theatre4Kids; a virtual drama education program that caters to a global student community. In my spare time, I am a radio host for a family show and podcast series on the English radio station Broadcast Amsterdam.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?
My business was born during Covid-19. Prior to the pandemic, I was working with a few international schools in Amsterdam to offer customised workshops and after school activities. The onset of the pandemic and the subsequent closure of schools brought about a change in plan. As learning shifted online, it became increasingly clear to me that I needed to adapt my business idea and embrace our new virtual reality. During this time, I decided to enrol in an online drama education program to develop and create content that could be delivered virtually. Alongside, I set up trial classes for Theatre4Kids within my network. Following a successful test run, I took the brand to market in May 2020.
In the past year, our multicultural classes have showcased 30 virtual performances with participation from children belonging to 15 different nationalities. Audio dramas and podcasts created by our students have also been featured on the local radio. Our programis currently available to children in The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, India and Indonesia. Theatre4Kids will soon be launched in multiple languages to better serve the global community.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?
For most of my career, I have worked for large multinational and retail companies. Whilst I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2015, Theatre4Kids is my first virtual business.
WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Learning how to be an entrepreneur means often leaning on your available resources. One of the biggest lessons of the pandemic has been to stay open and flexible in the face of change. It’s always good to have a clear vision board, but equally important to innovate. I encourage women to pursue with passion and not be deterred to walk into uncharted territory.
MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW DID YOU DEALT WITH IT:
My greatest obstacle was trying to embark on my entrepreneurial journey as a solopreneur. When you work for yourself, you’re not just the captain of the ship — you’re the entire crew as well. If you miss an important detail or things go sideways, you’re the only person responsible — there is no safety net to land on. Scheduling struggles can be an added burden to deal with. I have learnt how to ask for help from people who can support me both at home and at work. Improving my time management skills has also helped me to stay on track and achieve my goals.
MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:
To launch a business during a global pandemic whilst been fully present to manage my home responsibilities has been my most successful balancing act ever. I feel a great sense of accomplishment, to have found my niche in a new country and culture in a short span of three years.
HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:
I always find time to recharge, refresh and rejuvenate over my weekends and spend quality time with my family and friends. A regular exercise routine and a daily dose of 15-minutes of self-care every day are important to me. I always find time during the day for a lunchtime walk or a short bike ride, to listen to some music or tune into my favourite podcast.
I AM INSPIRED BY:
I have met so many incredible women in my life who have challenged the status quo and pushed forward to achieve success. My mother is my biggest inspiration, teacher and cheerleader. Her ability to successfully balance work and home responsibilities are something that I aspire to achieve in my own life. There are so many valuable life lessons that I have learnt from my own family that always served me in good stead.
WHY I CHOSE THIS CAREER:
Since my early childhood, I have been passionate about the performing arts and had an interest in drama and music. I have been part of many stages and Broadway productions too. For the most part of my corporate career, I have deliberately chosen to work with entertainment and edutainment brands that cater to families. When I decided to start my own business, Theatre4kids was an obvious choice as it brings together my interest and experience as a performer, educator and parent.
HOW I PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:
I am a big fan of being consistent, staying committed and taking action at the right time. Strong networking also sets the stage for success. Chances are that if you network with enough people, you will probably get your next lead or an idea or build connections you may need to grow and thrive in your entrepreneurial journey.
DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?
Yes, I have written one. A good business plan is a roadmap. It helps you to check the feasibility of your idea and to identify the vulnerabilities within. It has been effective for me personally to avoid a piecemeal approach, create a sound strategy and deal with changing conditions that we have so recently experienced during the pandemic.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMAN BUSINESS OWNER?
Women have traditionally had to perform double-duty at home in the workplace, and they may have a leg up in those coveted multitasking skills. As an entrepreneur particularly in a start-up it’s all hands on the deck and everyone is called upon to perform many roles. Women have a natural advantage to produce amazing results whilst being able to juggle many things. Although both men and women can face issues of self-doubt or lack of confidence to enter the business market, men do not suffer from the same degree of “prejudgement” as do women entrepreneurs. Having strong female mentors and confidants can help instill self-confidence in a woman’s abilities as a female entrepreneur.
MY FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL IS…
Nowadays, I work in the digital education space and I rely on tools like Flipgrid, Canva and Zoom to create content and adapt so many offline activities. For creating good quality podcasts or audio dramas, I recommend Audacity team which is a free and easy to use audio editor.
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…
How to stop saying YES when you want to say NO. As a solopreneur, you want to get up and grab every opportunity that might come your way. I always take a step back and ask myself why it is so important for me to please everyone, to the point that I feel resentful and stressed because of it. It is so important to know your own value. I have learned that if you live your life depending on other people’s approval, you will never feel free and truly happy.