Journey from a student entrepreneur to a visionary education entrepreneur.
Meet this Education Entrepreneur from London who started her entrepreneurship journey at the age of 18, today she is the owner of the fast-growing profitable tutoring company. She envisions to take the education sector to newer heights which integrates personal growth Technique along with academics.
Which is your most fond memory from your schooling days? And from your tuition sessions? Friends, Fun, Food, Never ending Chats, Teachers, Laughter, Pranks....the list is never ending isn't? A mixture of those moments made our schooling and our childhood super special and memorable, that is which makes our heart smile with nostalgia which we carry with us all our life. We would like you to pause for a couple of minutes, and soak in the nostalgia of your school memories, and as you read this story relive all of those special moments in your heart and as this entrepreneurial story unfolds get inspired to take a leap into the next step of your life and entrepreneurship dreams.
We are excited to bring an inspiring story of one such education entrepreneur who envisions to bring about yet another evolution into the education sector and is making a difference into the lives of children and parents. She has turned her passion for teaching into a profitable business and is shaking up the education sector in UK.
Meet Shivani Shah, co-founder of Big Fish Tutors, they are the most trusted tutoring company based in London who conduct tutoring sessions for children between the age group of 4 to 16 years covering subjects such as English, Maths and Science. Their tag line is what makes them unique, they are called “Big Fish Tutors - The Parents' Choice”, yes you read it right, they are the parents’ choice, as they carry rich experience of 60+ combined years of tutoring experience of their team.
Shivani started her entrepreneurship journey from a small room of her parent’s home in London and in a nostalgic tone she recalls the initial days when she would herself attend the college during the daylight and as the evening set she would be surrounded with children conducting Maths, English and Science lessons. The money she earned back in those days after conducting tuitions gave her the needed pocket money and paid her expenses which she loved the most, but she had never planned to become an entrepreneur.
Starting off from her dad’s home premise, she founded Big Fish Tutors in the year 2012 and has taken it to new heights with her hard work, risk taking ability, attention to detail and never give up attitude. She is extremely passionate about teaching and believes that every child carries the potential and we must give them the right environment to excel which she aims to do from her tutoring company. Today Big Fish Tutors have 5 centers in London with a student number of over 350.
She has built her company from scratch and proudly says,
“Our children are given strong academic and personal foundations to help them to thrive in the national curriculum”........
“We envision to provide online tuition to all of UK, work to fill the centers to maximum capacity and improve the scheme so that students develop faster,” she adds talking about her vision for Big Fish Tutors.
Identifying The Gap and Grabbing the Opportunity to make a difference.
Shivani is qualified in Maths from UCL and began her tutoring from home throughout university which helped her to pay her expenses. The young student in her didn’t take it too seriously as a career back in those days. Post her graduation like many of us she was being influenced her friends to find job in the corporate world but after failing at all the interviews she had applied to she decided to start a tuition center which overlooked the one of the high streets in London so as to meet the demand. Growing up in a business family over the years she had grasped all about entrepreneurship and business in bits in pieces, sometimes over dinner conversations and sometimes over casual conversations, but little did she know that she would one day start her own business. But as she carried on conducting tuition classes which gave her pocket money and paid her expenses, she realized that there are many issues in education specially in her home town in Wembley. She found that children speaking English as a second language (most often those from minority backgrounds) were experiencing difficulties when communicating, which affected their academic performance and confidence at school and also realized that given the fact that class sizes are large children usually seem to be lost among the class and their individual need was not always met, she identified this gap and decided to take it up as a challenge to impart education of high quality and help children excel in their academics and build a brighter future.
“My parents and I turned my dad's premises, which wasn't being used at the time, into small class rooms. I was lucky that I did not have rent burden. Furthermore, I was already teaching around 40 students from home. I moved them over and as I was now on the main road with doors open for business for most of the day, 40 rapidly grow to 80 by the end of the year. I think because I started from home and did not have the burden of rent, I had it quite easy,” she says talking about the initial days of her business.
The moment she launched her business, "Big Fish Tutors" was a big success immediately specially among parents of children in Wembley and their feedback was strongly positive. Shivani was very clear of her vision of providing individual attention which was appreciated by many. In particular, parents liked the individualized attention their children were getting within small teaching groups. Going a step beyond Shivani always aims to look at the bigger picture which will help the future of education and create a much bigger impact, through her session she not only delivered subject matter courses but also ensured that that personal, social and emotional development (PSED) techniques were largely integrated into the learning, e.g. children practiced how to work in teams and how to be respectful when others are speaking.
“The scheme itself hasn't changed much at all, although everything else around it has! When we had just the one center on Ealing Road, I would open and close it every day, I was teaching all the time, I was doing the business accounts and hiring new tutors, taking payments etc. Mostly I was doing all of the day-to-day center management alone”, she says talking about their first center.
Turning Passion into Purpose
“It was clear that smaller groups were needed to provide a comfortable environment where children could develop their personal interactions and practice their English through participation,” she says.
Shivani was committed to grow Big Fish Tutors and take it new heights from just one center to many centers. She is a self-driven individual who passionately wears many hats and has built various departments at Big Fish Tutors, she has self learnt various aspects of business and has implemented them within her company. Right from early days of running the tuitions from a room she loves learning new things the entrepreneurship journey is teaching her right from creating marketing strategies for websites, to staff development, to designing the individual worksheets, to working as a team and empowering them, to learning to be a better person and various aspects is what excites her about the entrepreneurship journey. With the same zeal and excitement, she has expanded her business to achieve five centers, and over the years as Big Fish Tutors started earning and making profits she decided to put the profits back into the business every year to expand their overall business.
“My vision was to have five centers in 5 years and work on building them altogether. Eight years later we have achieved this target. We grew from nine staff at one center to over 30 staff across the five. Now we would like to increase the number of students from 380 to 750. That is the forthcoming goal,” she says talking about growing her business.
Along her journey Shivani has always been proactive when it comes to planning things for her business, much before the covid lockdown was announced she has made plans to create online classes and just as the world went under lockdown, she ensured that everything was transitioned online smoothly. Her proactive planning has helped their business to come out stronger and she emphasises the importance of planning which is needed to keep the business growing. Yet another aspect in which she has grown her business in finding new ways of getting in front of parents as we could no longer see them in person; marketing with great effort whilst providing value through their weekly Facebook lives in a time where children were out of school was a approach they adapted.
“COVID has taught all of us the importance of being organized, nimble and resilient. If we were not either of these, we would not have made it. Furthermore, we improved our ability to empathize with the circumstances of parents and yet provide an excellent overall service with very little hiccups. We launched the Easter Competition which engaged our Big Fish Tutors community. None of which would have been possible without our dedicated tutors and managers,” she says talking about sustaining and growing Big Fish Tutors during Covid times.
With entrepreneurship comes many challenges and as business evolves the challenges evolve too. Shivani did have her own set of challenges but at every stage she displayed courage and overcame the challenges. The biggest challenge she faced was hiring the right tutors and training them but she came up a criteria and ensured that she overcame the challenges.
Talking about the challenges she says, “Even worse, firing tutors of which luckily I didn’t have to do too many times. The main ways I overcame this challenge is by creating a hiring and firing process. The criteria did all the work for me and ensured that I was hiring people who were right for Big Fish Tutors. There is no nice way to let someone go. I think I have no yet overcome this challenge”.
How does the entrepreneur in Shivani keeps herself inspired through tough times.
“Everyone feels low. The cycle of psychological ups and downs, peaks and troughs, is one of nature. If there are deadline due, I am able to consciously dismiss or ignore my stress by turning my focus to the task. I then deal with the low-feeling after-work hours trying to understand what exactly is making me feel that way. Sometimes if the challenge produces great results, this automatically motivates me again. But sometimes the stress and deflation does show up in physical forms - for example I lost a whole chunk of hair last year or become snappy every now and then,” she says.
Advice to other entrepreneurs in Shivani’s own words
Build Resilience, commitment, strategy and leadership are the 4 main character traits that you should cultivate.
Know more about Shivani
My Family Consist of-I have 2 qwerky parents and 1 loving sister and 1 analytical brother
My business philosophy is- Givers Gain, but you have to be a giver first.
When I face a big challenge- I get overwhelmed >> shake off the feeling >> plan the hell out of the challenge >> execute it as best as i can
My greatest fear is- Becoming a dependent/getting old
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is- Mended my relationship with my parents
If I could go back in time to when I was 20 I would tell myself- to get a mentor
I believe in- Change
The biggest lesson I have ever learned is- Words should be used wisely.
My favourite business tool or resource is- Google Calendar
My favourite quote is- Prevention is better than cure.
If you wish to avail services from Big Fish Tutor, please visit https://www.bigfishtutors.com/
We wish Shivani and Big Fish Tutors heaps of success.