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Post by Amy Ryan, the Musical Minis Southern Home Counties franchisee.
Amy runs classes in East Grinstead, Edenbridge, Forest Row, Lingfield, Redhill, Rusthall and South Nutfield.

Amy photo

In June 2015 after a lot of soul searching I decided to hand in my notice at the job I had worked in for over nine years. It was not an easy decision. It meant leaving behind a very good regular salary and it also meant that my time as a worker in London was coming to an end after almost twenty years. I loved my job, I loved the lifestyle it afforded me and I adored London but I had always wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and it was never going to be the perfect time to jump. It would also be hard to say goodbye to the free fruit box on Mondays, the endless supply of free hot chocolate, biscuits and on really good months… free cereal! I had changed careers before from an actress to my then current role as an events manager and I knew that it would be worth it and I was excited but I was also rather scared.

In the November I stood by the entrance to Oxford Street tube to start my usual two hour commute clutching my beautiful bouquet of flowers that had been purchased for me but bizarrely I had had to sign off for on the company credit card and cards signed by my wonderful colleagues and waved goodbye to my old life.

I believe that sometimes working in entertainment, be it for adults or children is seen as easy but whatever your business is, it is hard. Ultimately, you are the only one that can move it forwards. You have to believe in it 100% even when times are hard and one should never underestimate the first year or so running your own enterprise. I have found that the support of my family and friends has been so important. Above all the support of my Musical Minis Head Office has been vital to the success of my new business and of course none of it would be possible without the programme that they have carefully researched and put together over many years.

Amy - SHC2The pride that I have when I sit in front of a class of children that enjoy my classes and return every week is huge. To watch them and their carers learning, growing and socialising as a result of the work that I have put in is wonderful. To hear them all chatting before the class starts gives me such a buzz. I have gathered all these people together and they are now all friends and enjoy their time at Musical Minis. They tell their friends about Musical Minis and then more people come and it is just lovely.

Before I started my career in events management I trained and worked as an actress so the parts of the job that come reasonably easy to me are singing (most days) and performing, setting up my equipment in the various venues and creating a new world was something that I had already done before and enjoyed. Negotiating with venues, chatting to people when they arrived and making people feel comfortable is also a hugely satisfactory part of my work and again something I had a lot of experience in.

Promoting and filling classes was much harder than I had anticipated. I was used to marketing but all of the events I had previously promoted in the Orthopaedic world already had an established network. I simply fired off the same old mailshots to the same groups time after time and the hit rate was usually pretty good. The other important factor was that the events I was selling were in the main somewhat necessary to the future of orthopaedic surgeons’ careers so my audience was pretty active in wanting to attend the courses and seminars that my company was providing.

Running a completely new venture is so different. Musical Minis Southern Home Counties is a franchise but in my area completely new so not only did I have to build brand awareness but I had to and continue to have to encourage people to want to invest their time, money and most of all trust in the education of their children. To trust someone else with your money is a huge thing but with the education of their children…..a very very big thing and something that I take incredibly seriously.

Social media is a minefield. Too little and nobody knows you are there. Too much and people quite literally switch off. Some sites allow advertising, others don’t. Some allow it once a month, others allow you to advertise in direct response to a user’s questions. It’s really difficult when you first start because you want to tell everyone about your new company but you have to also be careful not to break any rules, annoy anyone or simply advertise too much. It is a fine balance.

Magazine articles are really effective in some areas but in others I received no response whatsoever. Putting up posters and posting leaflets through doors are heavily time consuming activities but necessary. At the beginning budgets were tight so I had to be very strategic which was tricky with no previous experience of trends throughout the year or how things differ from one area to the next.

I am pleased to say that it is working and my classes are busy and if the reviews are true people are enjoying the service that Musical Minis Southern Home Counties provides. I have many families that keep returning term after term and in some cases I have families that attend more than once a week which is so positive and I take this as a massive compliment.

I am still very new to the market place in my area and there are some very established groups out there but I am so pleased that gradually my brand is becoming much stronger and I now see people outside of class who recognise me from Musical Minis which is quite frankly brilliant.

I have been asked if I were to go back a year and start again is there anything I would do differently. The answer is yes of course. I think you can plan and forecast as much as you are able but until you are actively running your business you just don’t know exactly how things will be. All you can do is arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. I have made sure that the quality of the product I am delivering is always the best that it can be at that time but I am always looking at areas that can be improved. I think one thing that is so important is to start small and build from there. There is no benefit to spreading yourself too thin. I also have to give myself a talking to when things do not go quite according to plan. It is only a negative if you do not do anything about it and hope that things will be ok. There is always a solution. You just have to find it. With a level head. I keep asking questions both from my fellow Musical Mini franchisees across the country, my Head Office and people/ friends that run their own businesses. The product doesn’t necessarily need to be the same. We can all learn so much from each other and sometimes it is so important to just talk to someone else.

Would I go back to working in an office every day? Certainly there are some aspects I miss. It can be lonely sometimes and it is hard to keep driving your own enterprise but the highs definitely outweigh the lows so no I would not change what I do now and I would urge anyone thinking of running their own company to give it a go. Give it a try, you will surprise yourself, I guarantee it.

Oh and yes surprising I know but I do miss my daily four hour commute. I have a small child, a job, two cats that permanently stick fluff all over my furniture and a garden that quite frankly does nothing I ask of it so sitting on a train and reading/ snoozing was brilliant. Southern Rail you are not everyone’s cup of tea but I miss you.

Amy runs classes in East Grinstead, Edenbridge, Forest Row, Lingfield, Redhill, Rusthall and South Nutfield.
To book into classes phone visit or phone Amy on 07968 565789 or email

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