Lucy Lewin has been an FSB member for over a decade with her 85 place children’s day nursery in Rutland, and has just launched The Profitable Nursery Academy.
Lucy shares how she’s adapted her business model during COVID-19, why understanding your business is so important and how FSB helped along the way.
How did you adapt your business during lockdown?
Owning a small business can be challenging, but throw a global pandemic into the equation and you can quickly see how solid your foundations are and how effective your business processes and models can be.
Back in December 2018, having just had an Ofsted inspection, rent arrears and cash flow issues meant I struggled to pay my staff. My team worked so hard, with almost half holding degrees in education. I had one job, to pay them, and I failed! I vowed from that day I would do whatever it took to become the person I needed to be to have the business I deserved.
When lockdown hit, I looked at my business model, thought about how I could sustain it whilst looking after my family and decided to change my offering. I used the time when my own nursery was closed to help others in the early years sector with motivational training, coaching and support.
In our sector, it can be easy to forget about the business side of things when you’re trying to meet all the external requirements, stay compliant and look after children. Understanding your markets, value and costings is really important for a small business mentality.
How has the support from FSB helped you during this time?
Even before COVID-19, I was attending events and had the opportunity to speak at them. The help and support from FSB has been brilliant, particularly from Jennifer Thomas – she’s a legend! I networked with people to learn the skills I needed to grow myself and save my business.
Every aspect of FSB has helped my business. I’ve used the legal helpline and FSB Debt Recovery, and we’ve also got credit card machines through FSB Payments, which works out cheaper. The First Voice magazine is always so relevant and has exactly what you need to be reading as a business owner.
What advice do you have for small business owners and the self-employed?
Invest time into understanding the strategic side of your business and put systems and processes in place to use your time better. Sell on value, not on price. It’s all about the problems you solve.