Everyone knows that starting your own business isn’t the easy option, but sometimes things happen in your life that forces you to make a change, to reconsider your choices and jump into the unknown. This is exactly what happened to Jenn Appleton, and she hasn’t looked back since…
Back in 2014, Jenn Appleton was heavily pregnant and due to give birth in two weeks. It was at this point that her husband, Dave found a lump on his arm which was discovered to be a type of Cancer; Sarcoma. ‘It was such a massive shock, my little girl was only five days old and my husband was in the hospital having the tumour removed’ thankfully now Dave is well again but it was this incident that began to send waves through their lives and became the catalyst for changing everything. ‘It was a massive turning point for us and it made us think that we need to do the things that make us happy.’
‘We realised that life isn’t about how much money you can make, it isn’t about keeping up with what everyone thinks you should be doing. It’s about being happy.’
So at the start of 2015 Jenn and Dave decided that their New Year’s Resolution would be to make up their own rules…From there Dave made the decision to retrain in his career, becoming a Smart Meter Engineer and Jenn’s life began to change as well. ‘I had a conversation with a woman that I went to school with and asked her about her job as she had been an Architect. She told me that she wasn’t doing that anymore and said that she worked for Kumon. I had heard about Kumon but it was when she said that it might be right up my street that I decided to find out more.’
Kumon, created by Toru Kumon is a supplementary learning organisation that provides programmes in mathematics and English and has become franchised. But it’s the story behind Kumon that we just thought was fantastic…
‘In 1954 in Japan a young student by the name of Takeshi scored poorly in a maths test. His mother asked her husband, Toru Kumon, to take a closer look at their son’s school textbooks. Being a high school maths teacher, Toru Kumon thought that Takeshi’s textbooks did not give children enough practice to be confident in each topic. Toru decided to help his son by handwriting worksheets for him to practice. This was the start of the Kumon Method.
By the time Takeshi was in year 8, he had studied his father’s daily hand-written worksheets for four years and could solve differential and integral calculus problems. Friends and neighbours noticed Takeshi’s achievements and asked Mr Kumon to help their own children learn with this method. It was this local word of mouth that the Kumon Method began to spread. In 1958 the Kumon Institute of Education was established in Osaka, Japan. In its first year of operation, Kumon attracted 300 students through recommendations by parents whose children had studied the Kumon Method.
The first Kumon franchise in Tokyo opened in 1962, Kumon franchises were soon opened in the USA, Brazil, Germany, Philippines, UK, Australia, New Zealand, India and many more. Today there are more than 4 million children of all ages and abilities studying with Kumon in 49 countries.’
It didn’t take long for Jenn to make her decision! She made the enquiries and was accepted into the Kumon programme in October 2015 and opened her Kumon business at the end of January 2016. ‘It’s been such a quick turnaround, so many unexpected things have happened in such a short space of time but I wouldn’t change any of it. We’ve turned things into positives and that’s very much what we’re about.’
Now Jenn has her Kumon Study Centre in Woolton and runs two sessions each week. She also still works with a local Advisory Centre where she teaches personal development qualifications to vulnerable young people in secondary schools to improve their confidence, motivation and behaviour. On top of this she has her little girl! So as you can imagine – Jenn is one very busy woman! And finding a balance has been something that she has found tough; ‘I find it difficult to balance running the business, being a mum, a wife, a daughter and a friend and still working in my other job has been tough. But luckily I have a great support network, without which I don’t think any of this would be possible.’
Jenn has also accessed support from The Women’s Organisation and has been working with Business Advisor; Jo Mountfort. ‘Jo has been amazing, I have really enjoyed our meetings as they have not only helped me with the practicalities of opening a business also helped me to order my thoughts and set goals.’
The pair met over a number of months and worked on putting together a business plan with Jo suggesting other avenues that Jenn hadn’t previously considered. As well as this, Jenn has been attending training courses at The Women’s Organisation including Facebook for Business and Basic Bookkeeping and most recently was invited to be a guest speaker at our Enterprise Start-Up Conference where she told her business start-up story to a number of individuals who were considering self-employment.
It’s clear to see that even though there is plenty going on in Jenn’s life, she really enjoys running her own business and specifically running her own business doing what she loves best – helping others. Much like her work with the advisory service, Kumon is a rewarding experience for Jenn. ‘My greatest achievements are the small ones that I see each time I work with the children. The pride that they feel in themselves makes all my hard work so worth it, it’s just one of the reasons I adore my business.’
If you've been inspired by Jenn's story and would like to find out if The Women's Organisation can help you start your own business, get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing us on 0151 706 8111
If you would like to find out more about Jenn's Kumon Study Centre you can by using the contact details below!
Jenn Appleton - Woolton Study Centre
Phone Number - 0151 374 2484