Here, CycleBuddie share with us their thoughts on turning a passion into a business!
A love for cycling has always run through our blood, with Jane's Dad and my Grandad winning many national races in his youth on both bikes and trikes. Jane had taken up spinning, but one sunny morning decided she would much rather be out cycling in the sunshine than cooped up in a sweaty gym, and so she dug her bike out of the garage and it all started from there really!
After many many years of running a successful Tumble Tots franchise, Jane decided it was time for a change and trained up with British Cycling and BikeRight! to start leading Bike Ability sessions in schools. She then realised she could turn her love of cycling into a bit of a side hustle, and started being a bit of a tour guide/personal trainer/Cycle 'Buddie' to adults who could already ride but didn't have the confidence to go out and find their own routes – this is when CycleBuddie (and its name) was born.
At this point, I was a newly qualified teacher, and was finding the salary wasn't quite cutting it, so was doing anything and everything I could to make extra money on the side. Herbalife, Avon, creating personalized frames, tutoring the list goes on!
Jane had carried out some Balance Bike training and quickly realised this was the perfect opportunity for us to take CycleBuddie to the next step and use our many years of combined experience working with children to teach children to ride.
"But no one is going to pay us to teach their children to ride that's a parent's job!" I exclaimed, as very naïve, not yet parent (trust me... I know better than this now that I am a busy parent myself!) Little did I know this was about to be the start of something amazing!
What steps did you take to make it happen?
Luckily, with Jane being British Cycling qualified, we got lots of support from them in terms of insurance and legalities. Also, the head teacher at my school had very kindly said we could use the school grounds and gave us a gate key so that we could come and go as we pleased.
We then created our Facebook page and started advertising everywhere we could, as well as attending as many charity events and summer fairs as we could so that we could get our name out there and people could see what we do.
We sat down and discussed how the classes would work and created our bespoke programme aspects of which we still use today, although we are constantly adding to and improving it as we learn from the children we teach.
Our biggest, initial challenge was that nobody knew who we were. We were just a page on Facebook, advertising sessions that people we really interested in, but then expecting them to send us money when we had no reviews, no photos and no recommendations.
We started by running a 3 day course during the summer holidays for which we had just 5 children booked in (2 of which being my friend's twin girls!) and panicked that we had invested a lot of time and money into something that wasn't giving us any financial return. However as soon as we started posting photos of our sessions in action, and people started putting reviews on Facebook for us, that is when things really took off!
What do you love most about running your own business?
Pulling into the carpark during a session that I'm not running, seeing it full of cars, and walking into the playground to a sea of happy faces (from parents and children) and realising "we did this!"
We take the tears and tantrums out of learning to ride a bike, and instead provide a positive and happy experience for all involved – and knowing that we have provided this service for thousands of families over the years just fills me with so much pride and makes it worth all the hard work and hours we put into it.
Every new instructor that joins us comments on the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you have been working with a specific child (or adult!) and they finally start to pedal on their own and that is the reason we absolutely love what we do.
What is the hardest part about running your own business?
Juggling everything! Before I had children of my own, I found running CycleBuddie a total breeze. My husband is a chef and so I often spent evenings and weekends on my own, so running the sessions at the weekends, and keeping behind the scenes going during the evenings kept me from being lonely!
However, I now work full time as a teacher, have a nearly 3 year old little boy and a baby girl who is due in August, and I am finding it harder and harder to keep up.
We are also in the process of franchising CycleBuddie, which is taking up a lot of time and brain space trying to get it all organised whilst also teaching full time, entertaining an extremely active little boy, keep the house running and being pregnant – so I find lists and learning how to prioritise a big help!
How do you make sure you don't lose your passion now that it's 'work'?
I feel I can't really answer this one as we just absolutely love what we do. Don't get me wrong, when the alarm goes off on a Saturday or Sunday morning, I still get the usual "urgh, do I have to go to workagain" feeling, but the second I pull into that carpark, start to set up our circuit and infamous Shark Game and the smiley faces of children eager to learn start to walk in, that feeling is totally gone! If I could afford to do what we do for free, trust me I would – because that warm fuzzy feeling and pride you feel for each and every child is worth every hour of work put into it.
What advice would you give to other mums looking to turn their passion into a business?
Go for it!! If it really is something you love and are passionate about, you will make it work one way or another.
My top tip however (which I definitely need to follow more myself!) is to give yourself office hours. As a mum, you can't let your business take you away from your children, as that is when you will stop enjoying what you're doing. Create a list of admin jobs that need doing and set yourself a time limit then close the laptop and walk away when time is up! Things will wait until tomorrow and you will perform better the next day when you are rested and have had your daily fill of cuddles and silly conversations with your little (or not so little) ones at home!
To find out more about CycleBuddie visit – www.cycle-buddie.co.uk