Richard Curtis is a child behaviour expert who works in school and writes books and advises parents under the moniker The Kid Calmer. Curtis launched The Root Of It in 2013, because of concerns about the lack of specialist providers for these services. The business now has 20 staff, providing monitored special needs and school improvement services, and he’s forecasting a seven-figure turnover within in three years.
What caused you to start the business?
I left the local authority I was working for and started The Root Of It in May 2013. I had four hours of work that month and had to take a part-time job in a school to pay the bills. Within three months I had left the part time job and was working purely on The Root Of It.
There are independent professionals like educational psychologists scattered across the country. There are big corporates who are aiming their services at local authorities and as part of this they then have to provide services to schools, but there was no one who was aiming [child behavioural specialists] at schools. We became the unique one-stop shop.
Did you receive any enterprise support?
I have worked with Growth Accelerator and the Entrepreneur’s Circle to develop my own business skills – I didn’t know what profit-loss was until December 2013. So I had a complete set of new skills to learn.
How difficult was it to scale up the business?
I spent six months, beginning in February this year, refining the processes that are use within the company. I know that if a new school phones me today and says we need such and such it’s as easy to source someone in Liverpool and Leeds as Littlehampton.
What about finding the personnel?
Within our profession what I’m doing is exactly the way we’ve wanted to work for years. From a professional’s point of view it was exactly what they want and I have a waiting list of people wanting to work for me.
What about the relationship between the brand of The Kid Calmer and The Root Of It?
The Root Of It is a year older than The Kid Calmer. In developing and growing The Root Of It we identified that there wasn’t anyone to fill the super nanny void and that’s how the Kid Calmer was born. I had three books published in June, and have made loads of resources available on my blog and podcasts.
What are you doing with that brand?
I’m in the middle of a 30-day parenting challenge with The Kid Calmer, done through my website and Facebook. It’s about experimenting and trying different ways to interact with children. That’s been very successful, 283 parents started on the 1 November and we’ve had more join since.
Most of our marketing is done through social media, whereas The Root Of It, we’ve barely touched social media. It’s the difference between pitching schools and pitching parents.
What’s next for the business and what kind of expansion do you expect over the next two or three years?
We are in the process of expanding our services nationally. We will very much be out there to provide support to schools across the country.
In our first year we grew from four hours to a team of 20. If it continues like it has I don’t know where we’re going to end up. It’s hard, as a business you have to do financial and cashflow forecasts and those are very much based on flat rates of growth. However, our growth in the south east has been exponential I expect that to continue as we expand.
Looking back on the process, what do you think about starting up?
I’ve made loads of errors along the way and I’m sure I’m going to make a lot more. I’ve come from outside of business, I am a teacher and I’ve had to learn all these things and we’ve still managed to grow absolutely fantastically. So much of that’s about making sure the nuts and bolts are in place. All I’ve done is come from outside learnt the nuts and bolts and put them together around a fantastic product.
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