How I met Dee
Having spent many years as a classroom science teacher I was beginning to feel that the career was no longer for me; I still loved teaching but was finding that the job itself was more about other aspects of the role than educating. I had for some time been playing with the idea that I could still teach science but using the outdoors and drawing on a range of outdoor skills including Bushcraft.
The push to commit happened over Christmas 2019. My first contact with Dee came about through a recommendation from my Accountant Kayleigh from Darcey and Bate.
At the first meeting with Dee I was impressed with her knowledge and understanding but what clinched it was that I was not about to be pushed into a mould that was pre-prepared. Dee listened.
Within a very short time of going onto the retainer package with Dee I had a real idea of how “teaching in the woods” could be made into a business. She was especially good at ensuring that I did not underprice myself and helped me with the early approaches to schools with business proposals and how to build and maintain an online presence through my website and social media. I confess that I did not always do what she suggested, I still retain a level of cynicism about local media, but in spite of this, it does seem to work.
Working with Dee
We have been working with Dee since our formation as a company. Through much of this time it has been through Dee’s quarterly rolling package which has meant that I have been able to have very quick turnaround on questions and the chance to chat on the phone outside our scheduled meetings. With the events of this year and our shift towards online resources we are currently working on a ‘Pay as we go’ basis but we expect to return to the more consistent help once our finances and the work market allows us to.
From our first meeting Dee was developing a plan for me to follow. Initially the list of jobs was huge but she prevented me from being overwhelmed by ensuring that it was broken down into small enough chunks that it always felt achievable. Her support throughout the early stages of building the company allowed me to grow into the role, while her support kept me moving in the right direction.
She learned that I need lists very early on! She set the priorities and, if I was feeling that I was unable to cope with tasks she was also there to lead me through it. She has supported us with anything from recruitment to the application processes for a huge government grant – getting through to the second stage on this was a massive achievement.
Since working with Dee, we have:
- Financial results. In our first year we had not only made enough to keep paying the mortgage but had exceeded all our expectations and targets. This year has been more challenging but we have kept to a plan that will allow us to recover once the restrictions are lifted.
- Investment. With the arrival of the COVID-19 virus we were forced to reconsider how we might keep the business going as we were unable to go into schools. We currently have a new website under construction that will allow us to sell lesson plans and resources for Outdoor Learning Staff. Dee’s advice has been invaluable in putting the model for this together.
- Been kept accountable. Dee has managed to keep me ‘honest’. Each meeting there has been a plan or objective that we have aimed to address and these have been broken into a series of steps that make it feel achievable. She has also been willing to keep me on track when I might have looked for more interesting diversions, as a result we have achieved far more than I had either hoped or expected.
- Focus and decision making. Dee’s advice has been ‘sanity saving’. Knowing what to do and when has helped us to develop and prevented us being distracted by ‘what ifs’. Having a number of short tasks to work through and a timescale to complete has kept me focussed on what is essential.
- Operational efficiencies and team training and development. Dee takes a broad view over the business and has been able to offer support in all aspects even the bits that I was not aware that I needed to know. While on retainer Dee was exactly like a business partner and the ability to bounce ideas off her, and get an honest opinion, allowed me to avoid mistakes.
- Improved wellbeing. Involving Dee, started with thinking about our wellbeing. My wife and I did not want our time together to be only about the business or its development and plans, Dee ’s involvement has prevented this from being necessary. As a result, we have been able to enjoy our success.
I can say with no question in my mind that were it not for Dee I would probably be back in a classroom teaching supply. I now have a company that allows me to teach in the way that I feel is needed and one that I also enjoy, this could not have happened without Dee. If you are balancing on the edge of thinking that you have an idea that might become a business but are not sure how to continue Dee will be able to help. We put Dee in contact with a friend, she now has a thriving professional photography business.
Rupert and Patricia Loch
Feral Science Limited