Entrepreneur Asha Richardson owes both her financial and creative freedom to franchising
Name: Asha Richardson (28)
Organisation:Razzamataz South Lakes
Years trading: 2
At age 26 and with just 35 students, Asha Richardson took over Razzamataz Penrith and knew quickly that she wanted to expand. Two years later, she has opened two more schools and has over 300 students.
I worked for Razzamataz in 2018 as a drama teacher and very quickly I wanted to be more involved and find out what other opportunities there were. Soon after, the school I worked at came up for a resale opportunity.
I’ve got two little babies, and both have their own health problems. They were both born very early. After having my first baby, I thought: ‘I can’t have another one.’ If I was in a normal nine-to-five job, I would never have been able to do it. But because I’ve gone into franchising and built the school up, and tapped into our head office’s manager training, I could set things up to run while I went on to have my second baby. I’m grateful that I found franchising because, without it, I wouldn’t have the family I’ve got today.
With my second baby, I was in and out of hospital for four months, but the business still grew despite this because of the structures that we already had in place. I can make it work for both my family and me. And since becoming a franchisee of Razzmatazz, I’ve got my financial freedom back. I’ve also got creative freedom.
The most difficult part of the job is working all the hours under the sun. Yes, I’ve got time back. But also, whenever I’ve got a free moment, I’m thinking: ‘What can I do for Razzamataz? What can I do to build my business?’
Also, it’s learning not to take everything to heart and remembering it’s a business. Performing arts is my love and my passion, and if I could let everyone come for free, I would. But that’s not how it works. I reached out to the head office when the time came to put my fees up because I found it to be a tricky situation. Everything’s going up, the last thing I want to do is charge parents more. But the head office helped me, and we’ve come out the other side. When I put my fees up, I didn’t get one complaint.
COVID was tricky. I took over in July 2020, so it was mid-pandemic. For the young people that we’re working with, mental health is so important. And now we have the financial crisis, which is challenging too.
My proudest business achievement is having a member of staff, who joined me on a three-hour-a-week contract. Within six months she was working 30 hours a week for me and now she’s just opened her own Razzamataz school. She was inspired by what I did, and I said: “Right, come on. I’m going to hold your hand; you can do this.” She’s just ending her first term and already breaking even. This has changed that young lady’s life and I know she’s going to go on to succeed.
People are there to help you. If I was struggling with something, I’d sit at my computer and get so frustrated. Whereas now there is always someone willing to help – another franchisee or head office.
The best advice I got was from my mum. She said, a smile costs nothing. It’s important to me that we do as much as we can for free because every child needs to be able to access what we offer. And so, the more I build my business, the more money I have to be able to offer free opportunities to others.
I took over with 35 students and one school two and a half years ago. I’ve now got three schools and 300 students. Our growth has been quite phenomenal, but that’s been testament to the hard work of the team. I’ve got a manager in place now and it’s just been amazing that I’ve been able to give her a full-time role because where we are, in rural Cumbria, there aren’t a lot of full-time positions within this industry.
So long term I’d love to be able to create another full-time position for someone and open another school in the territory next to me.
Get to know
My idea of success is… achieving the goals that I’ve set out. For me, if my family is happy and getting my time and my business is running profitably then I’m successful in what I’m doing.
My motto is… ‘Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing’. We’ve got to use every single day and make the most of every single day.