Hello and welcome to an update with one of my new businesses from last year – although these are people I’ve known for around a decade! Julia and Sam run Magical Maths Club Birmingham, and I first interviewed them in the summer last year – we all agreed that September was a much more sensible time to update everyone on how they’re doing. When I interviewed Julia and Sam last year, when they’d only been going a little while, this is what they hoped for for the coming year: “We should be in more schools and have a bigger bank of staff to draw on. We need people who are looking for some casual work, love working with children, enjoy playing games, including games which include some basic maths, and have at least a “C” grade in GCSE mathematics. Personality is very important. We have been very lucky with the staff we have got so far. They are full of life and so enthusiastic. The children love them and it is not difficult to see why. When you contact us in a year’s time, it will be fun to see how much has changed!” Let’s see how they’re getting on!
Hello, Sam and Julia! Have things gone as expected and have you achieved those goals you set out last year?
When you interviewed us last year we were very new and had just been in a few schools.
We had hoped to be in many more schools and indeed we have been!
We love the enthusiasm with which we are surrounded. The children really do love the assemblies which the schools get for free and we also get some amazing feedback from the clubs
One parent said, “My daughter really enjoyed it. She talked about it all the way home and said she couldn’t wait until next week,” and from one headteacher, “Our children have really enjoyed Magical Maths and I think yours would too! One child asked every day if it was Magical Maths day”.
Schools are amazing places with many innovative teachers, making their classes exciting places to be, and they really get what we are offering. It’s fantastic to get this support from teachers.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Our main way of working has stayed the same. We offer school assemblies for free, and then the children’s parents sign up for our after school clubs.
We now have a bespoke software backend package behind our website to take our orders and although there were some teething problems, especially the week we changed from one system to the other, this is now working well and gives both us and the parents a better experience when booking up online.
We have now also been returning to schools for the second and even a third time, with completely new programmes so we have lots of new equipment and resources which means we have had to rethink our storage arrangements.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
Sometimes the people who say no to you the first time they hear about you turn out to be one of your best customers.
Also, the work behind the scenes takes longer than you would imagine, so make sure you allow time for it, but also plan in some breaks!!
Any more hints and tips for people?
Reiterating what we said last year – you really do need to love what you are doing!! And it also pays to recruit people who love working for you/in the field in which you are working. We certainly have staff who pull out all the stops to do an excellent job and it makes such a difference.
BONUS NEW QUESTION: What question would YOU like to ask other small business owners?
What inexpensive ways are there to treat your staff?
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
Growing steadily and also offering some options for schools to book us in directly.
That’s all very exciting, isn’t it, and well done to Julia and Sam for building their business so well in these first vital couple of years. That’s a great bonus question, too, and one I hope we get some answers to! Best of luck to Magical Maths Club Birmingham and Julia and Sam for the next year!
You can find the main Magical Maths Club Birmingham website here: https://magicalmathsclub.com/birmingham
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.