I can hardly believe that my wonderful business, Extra Help, is nine years old this year! Time really does fly and this week, I’d like to reflect on the journey I embarked upon to get to where I am today.
As you may already know, I am a single parent with three children, who were four, nine and eleven when we moved to Milton Keynes in 2005. My husband and I had recently divorced and, previously, I had run a construction business with him.
“Upon my divorce, I had no source of income and needed to find a way to earn money and support my children and myself!”
I started a successful magazine publishing business and life was pretty great for my family and me for a while, until the recession hit in 2009. At this point, I made the decision to sell my business and move to Plymouth for a fresh start.
One day, a friend, who had identified a gap in the market, approached me with an idea for a new business. It was a one-stop-shop for home-help and domestic services … and Extra Help was born. We established two offices, one in Milton Keynes, where she lived, and one in Plymouth, and franchised the business in 2011.
The rest is history! Extra Help is a fantastic business, which I absolutely love. Later, my business partner and I parted ways, so I bought her out and continued to run Extra Help alone. Things haven’t been easy by any means, but I’m extremely passionate about my business and will never let anything stand in my way.
Alongside Extra Help, in 2012, I became involved with a new organisation called the Approved Franchise Association, a non-profit making organisation that was established with the aim of providing a more affordable support network and accreditation to fledgeling and medium franchisors.
I was offered and accepted the role of CEO in 2015, my challenge being to develop the AFA into a credible franchise association that would receive sector-wide recognition and respect by providing a quality service to its members. As I have a genuine passion for helping people and the franchising sector in general, this was a challenge that I was extremely excited by and eager to undertake.
Under my jurisdiction, I am proud to say that the AFA has evolved into a strong organisation, that’s providing more and more value to its members as time goes on, with the introduction of regional meetings, franchise exhibitions, advertising discounts and regular communication with our members.
I’m also now working as a franchise consultant with Accentia, a full service, franchise development and consultancy service that works with businesses to assist them with expansion into new, national and international markets through franchising. In addition to this, we work closely with franchisees to ensure their chosen business is the right fit for them.
Two years ago, I decided to return to Milton Keynes. There were a number of reasons for this, but, mainly, it was due to location and the need to be in a more convenient place to travel around the country and meet with suppliers and franchisees.
“Extra Help continues to flourish to this day, with nineteen franchises across the country!”
I also recently appointed Nealem Stephens, the franchise owner for Maidenhead and Windsor, to be my National Business Development Manager, enabling Extra Help to continue to grow.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading my story. I’ve learnt many lessons along the way and there have been lots of ups and downs – such is the life of an entrepreneur, but I have no regrets and the future looks incredibly positive!
If you’re considering investing in an Extra Help franchise or need some guidance on anything franchise-related, please do give me a call on 01604 532932. I would be delighted to assist you.