Jo and Dawn recognised the extra demand placed on language schools to recruit and vet hosts ready for their peak period of June to August. So, they joined a partnership to create their new thriving business; Your Homestay.
This business provides services to the language travel industry. ‘Thousands of foreign students travel to Liverpool and Southport each year to attend short or extended stay English language courses and therefore boost the economy in these areas. 60% of these students choose homestay accommodation to consolidate their language education and experience English life in a typical home.’
Prior to running Your Homestay, Jo took a career break from secondary school teaching to bring up her three children and then went into supply teaching. During her career break she began hosting students for a school in Liverpool to introduce her children to diverse cultures and languages. Before teaching in England, Dawn taught English as a foreign language in South Korea and has recently worked at a senior level for the Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO).
Since her break from teaching, Jo has been a homestay host for a language school in Liverpool for four years. It was through their separate work areas that they began to acknowledge there was a valuable place for their business. Through this recognition, Jo and Dawn conducted various research in the numbers of schools and their student capacity in Liverpool. They met with senior figures from those schools to explore the potential areas in which they could support them.
At first, starting-up was a ‘bit daunting’ for the duo, but they sought advice from as many sources as possible. ‘It has been a huge learning curve and we underestimated how much work it involved.’ Jo and Dawn were initially going to spend more time developing networks and setting up systems but certain opportunities emerged which they felt they should embrace. The overwhelming feeling during this phase of their venture was of a determined excitement.
Jo and Dawn contacted The Women’s Organisation where they received ‘invaluable support.’ They were assigned to one of our business advisors who guided them through all the processes. This included creating an action plan, identifying product and definitions and advice on essentials such as insurance and tax. The pair also attended various courses to support them with various aspects of their business like ‘Building a Social Media Strategy.’
‘In doing all of this we have been able to network with other women in the same situation, and retain the support of our business advisor.’
As Jo and Dawn are both mothers, they had to find that balance between work, home life and setting up a business. And as a result, they feel many sacrifices have been made with regards to family and friends. ‘We have been working seven days a week to get the business up and running but once everything is in place it will ease a little, we hope!’
‘The best thing is being your own boss and managing your own time and workload.’
So far, they are proud of what their business has achieved which has only been possible through hard work and sacrifices. ‘One minute we were teachers and the next we are business women!’
For anybody thinking of starting a business, Jo and Dawn would advise you to not ‘rush into it…Keep it simple and where possible keep your start-up costs low.’ They suggest seeking advice but don’t get over burdened with it! ‘Make decisions based on your needs not those of others.’
If you’re interested in the services Jo and Dawn offer, you can contact them on:
And if you've been inspired by Jo and Dawn's story and would like support and advice to start your own business, then get in touch with us! Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring us on 0151 706 8111