I love language. Looking back, it’s been in the back of my mind for some time to start my own business but there was always some obstacle: too many obligations of one kind or another with family and outgoings.
I simply wasn't in a position to plan my own time and had too many financial commitments to take the risk. Nevertheless, around two or three years ago, I came across a leaflet about Prime, an organisation that helps the over 50's start up on their own and decided to keep the idea in mind.
No shortage of work.
As a qualified languages teacher, it has rarely been an issue to find work. But I was finding that the contracts tended to be temporary – it wasn't easy to find a permanent job after ten years’ experience raised your salary band and might even price you out of a job.
Then there were the
relentless pressures and targets…
I was offered an opportunity to go abroad – to Kuwait – to teach for a year but didn't enjoy the work there either.
That sounds like a plan.
After returning in the summer of 2012, I decided that the time was right; I love language, I’d turned fifty a few months before and resolved to apply for one of Prime’s courses.
Once I started to attend, I found it incredibly helpful; especially when it
came to sorting out my plans, the figures and dealing with tax! I had a friend
set up a website for me at a discount and even before finishing the Prime
course I’d found my first clients. I called my new business love language Luton.
At the start, I was greatly helped by being part of a German-speaking Meet-up group that’s based in Milton Keynes. A couple of early jobs came through this connection.
I’d also registered with various agencies for tutoring
opportunities, which have flowed in steadily. As it turned out, I've been
obtaining work without any need for my website – but having one added
credibility when handing out business cards: it’s a place to go for information,
after all. My business name is ‘Love Language’ of Luton – this seemed to sum up
what I was all about!
Apart from teaching – German, French and English at present – I also undertake freelance work now and again for a Milton Keynes company for whom I analyse foreign language media texts, establishing if they contain any key PR messages. All I need for this is my desk at home, my laptop and a dictionary!
A degree is for life.
My degree (it really shows that a degree is for life!) was in Chinese and German but I've also taught French to GCSE in schools. The work I'm doing is quite varied: telephone tuition in English early in the mornings for business people abroad – great when you don’t have to leave your home to reach your desk – and English teaching for a local private college being among the current engagements.
I'm always on the lookout for new opportunities: I hope to
start more language classes, including some in Mandarin, at a supplementary
Although I have a lot more freedom than in the past, there are, of course, areas where I have to be flexible: I work most evenings – the optimum time for tuition being between 4 pm and 9 pm – and all day Saturdays. Also, working for yourself can be a bit isolating at times and I always welcome the chance to socialise, even if it’s just within a work environment.
No long commutes.
But, by way of
compensation, I don’t have to think about getting the car de-iced and started
on cold winter mornings!
To be honest, I find that nothing beats being my own boss. I found that, having had this amount of experience of life, I wanted to be in the position of being able to have more control over my life.
Every new venture has areas that are strange at first so you have to pay attention to those and become accustomed to them. However, things settle down over time; I've been running the business for less than six months so far but would definitely like to ensure that it’s a long-term success!
Alison Sesi, Luton