Aida Aranda, Kumon Math & Reading Centre of Surrey - Cloverdale
After receiving an MBA in her home country of Mexico, Aida Aranda knew self-employment was somewhere in her future, but with a move to Canada and a new lifestyle to adjust to, that dream had to put on hold for a while.
“When we came to Canada I took a job as a sales representative for an industrial adhesives company and for almost four years I was selling products to small to medium companies,” says Aranda. “That experience made me realize that the vast majority of businesses in Vancouver are small enterprises and after some research, I decided that I had all the necessary tools to finally become an entrepreneur myself.”
When Aranda started looking at business options, one of her first selections was Kumon Math & Reading Centre. This business appealed to her because of the positive personal experience she’d already had with the company.
“As a new immigrant, my children needed help to integrate into the society and language was a big void in such integration. They only spoke Spanish and needed to learn English to communicate and make friends,” says Aranda. “After doing some research, I enrolled my children in Kumon and I fell in love with it!”
As it turned out, an already operating Kumon Centre was for sale. The decision to purchase the franchise instead of starting her own venture was a big one, but it came down to minimizing risk by investing in an already proven concept.
“Yes, you still have to do all your research when you buy a franchise - a business plan with a detailed market analysis - but you can look at the history of the franchise, you receive professional feedback on your business plan, and you can visit well established franchisees and get valuable information that you cannot get if you try to start from scratch.”
However, before she could purchase the Kumon Centre, Aranda needed to access financing. When approaching banks with her business plan, she admits they just were not interested in her micro business with projected sales of less than $130K. She also felt they lacked the knowledge and advice to provide adequate support to a small business. When she finally approached Women’s Enterprise Centre for a loan, she found an organization that was not only interested in her small business, but also specialized in dealing with small business start-up and growth.
“What I enjoyed best about getting funding through Women’s Enterprise Centre is the personal touch from a Business Advisor. Your Advisor is there for you through every step of the process and is very helpful, knowledgeable and friendly,” says Aranda.
Now in her eighth month of operation, the business has already surpassed its projections for the second year of business. Aranda attributes her success in part to the support she’s received from Kumon; by purchasing a franchise she’s had instant access to business resources, training and information, and because the business was already operating, it came with an established customer base from day one.
“That was an even greater advantage,” admits Aranda. “The take-over process was about two months and after that period, I was able to maintain 90% of the existing student base. That meant money coming into the business right away!”
For other entrepreneurs considering purchasing a franchise, Aranda has two pieces of advice: Make sure that the business you are planning to get involved with shares the same kind of values that you do and make sure it’s something that you are going to enjoy doing. “Trust your gut feeling to select a franchise but, before you sign the franchise agreement, make sure you do all your research with a clear, cold head.”