Lisa Vodola was happy enough in her career as a special education kindergarten teacher. She had earned her master’s degree and was passionate about early literacy development. She was helping challenged children to learn and love to read.
But after nine years in the classroom, Lisa decided to take the entrepreneurial leap and started a business that took her talents to the next level. Preschool Readers provides individualized in-home reading instruction to children 3 – 5 years of age, giving them a head-start in reading fundamentals. Through a variety of fun games and activities, children develop confidence in their reading ability and earn an important academic advantage.
Lisa started out slowly, developing the curriculum and acting as the sole instructor while she was still teaching full-time. After a period of time testing the concept and building awareness, Lisa knew she was ready to fully embrace small business ownership. She brought on other reading specialists and broadened her market to include areas in Florida (where she had gone to school) and New Jersey (her home base).
Lisa was very clear about her goals – she wanted a business model that would allow her freedom and flexibility while still giving her the opportunity to impact children’s lives. What wasn’t so clear was how she could maintain smart growth in her business. Should she stay relatively small and in complete control? Should she investigate the franchise model and turn her business into a network of independent operations?
With these questions on her mind, Lisa enrolled in UCEDC’s six-week Next Level Business Planning workshop. In class, she got a comprehensive review of growth assessments and strategies along with helpful feedback and encouragement from her fellow-entrepreneurs. Outside of the classroom, Lisa was able to tap into individualized coaching from UCEDC’s business experts and really drill down to her specific issues.
“How grateful I am to have participated in the Next Level Business Planning program," says Lisa. "I’ve truly appreciated having had the opportunity to learn and grow from other business owners. Entrepreneurship is so many things… excitement, creativity, and freedom. However, at times, it is also lonely, intimidating, and confusing. Having a support group (which is what I found in our class), provided comfort in the knowledge that I wasn’t the only one with these feelings and encouragement when and where I needed it."
"Each class was informative and taught without judgment. Active learning took place as we were given time to construct, question, and apply our new learning to our business models. Additionally, the one-on-one coaching we received from our instructors was invaluable!”