Julie Armstrong has been a Little Voices franchisee for 10 years.
She started out as a Little Voices parent when her daughter started coming to lessons. “At that time, I was working as a jobbing actor on the soaps and dramas up in the North West,” Julie explains. “Little Voices needed some teaching help, and I jumped at the chance!”
Five years later, Julie and her family found themselves having to relocate due to her husband’s job, which is when she decided to become a Little Voices franchisee and set up Little Voices in Peterborough.
“I opened my own business with so much trepidation,” she continues. “I wasn’t a businesswoman and didn’t know the first thing about running a business! In my mind, I’d teach a dozen kids, one night a week, and that would be it.”
Fast-forward 10 years and things couldn’t be much different for Julie.
Word soon spread and her customer numbers grew – so 2 years later, she opened her second centre. But the business just kept on growing, so she opened her third and fourth centres.
It was then that Julie decided that she needed to restructure things slightly, scale back her own involvement and take on some help with teaching the lessons, as well as keeping things running smoothly front-of-house.
“The idea of being a Little Voices franchisee was always to make it fit around my lifestyle” she explains, “so restructuring the business and expanding my team allowed me to achieve the perfect work/life balance.”
So what has being a Little Voices franchisee taught Julie?
- That our children are what it’s all about. Look after our children and the business takes care of itself. At Little Voices, we truly care for every child, embrace their differences, learn what makes them tick and how they learn best.
- To trust myself. Actually – I can do this and I know enough now to keep the business going. There is nothing we can’t overcome!
- Not to be scared – of change, embracing new ideas, challenges . . . anything!
- Not to worry about the competition. There are lots of performing arts schools in Peterborough, but we’ve taught more than 3,500 children so far, and all their parents have chosen Little Voices classes above the others, so we must be doing something right!
- To just be me. People buy from people – and yes, they want to know that I’m a competent businesswoman. But they also want to know I’m someone they can relate to – a mum, a wife (and yes, just like them, I was once a Little Voices parent, too!)
- Not to worry so much! I do that a lot. But if a child doesn’t want to come to lessons, it may just be because the timings don’t work for them, or it clashes with their swimming – not that we’re doing something wrong. I have 3 full centres that tell me otherwise!
- To take time out and find a balance. I love practising my yoga every day, it helps ground me and is time for me to breathe. I don’t work at the weekend, that’s time for family – and we also make time for the odd weekend away to recharge our batteries.
- To look after my staff. I have the best tutors and assistants, we make a great team, and without them I wouldn’t have my business (or my sanity)!
- To be proud – as I look back over my 10 years as a Little Voices franchisee, I went from being a nervous non-businesswoman, planning on tutoring a dozen or so kids, to a successful business owner with 3 centres, fantastic staff, and lots of incredible pupils!
We’ve put hundreds of children through their LAMDA exams each year with exceptional results, seen children turn into confident young adults heading off into the big wide world, and even survived a global pandemic, where we were forced to close our doors on and off for two years. But we didn’t miss a single lesson and came out the other side stronger than ever!
- And finally, to love life! I have the perfect work/life balance, a wonderful family, my dog, a lovely home, and a great little business!
I’m very grateful not only for the opportunity to create a business for myself and my family, but also for the chance to help children with their confidence, mental wellbeing and performing skills.
And when you feel happy and content with life, what could possibly be better?
Julie, you’re an inspiration to us all and we’re incredibly lucky to have you in our Little Voices family!