Education is a fundamental predictor of success for the future. Benjamin Franklin famously stated that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” It is this understanding of the true value of education that inspired the entrepreneur within Wilda Harper. Recognizing an opportunity to bridge the gap in the educational needs of students, Harper founded Tots 'n Tutors as a one-on-one tutoring service. Despite efforts made through the No Child Left Behind Act, it is not always possible to spend direct time with individual students in the classroom to focus on specific academic discrepancies, especially when factoring in time constraints. Therefore, outside efforts serve as a critical link to reinforce the information first taught in the classroom. Harper notes, “as a private tutor, I am able to hone in on specific content and spend the significant amount of time that is needed to make sure students fully comprehend what they are learning.”
With over 15 years of experience teaching in public schools, she understood that the dynamics of the classroom left some children in need of specialized lessons to help them grasp what the teacher was trying to convey. Although she knew that Tots 'n Tutors was a way to bring that individual attention to students through at-home or on-site tutoring, the transition from teacher to business owner meant that Wilda Harper would need some guidance of her own. Upon making the decision to focus on the potential for her business full-time, she searched online for resources and assistance. Ultimately, Harper chose the City of Austin Small Business Development Program (SBDP) as the organization to help convert her business ideas into a reality.
SBDP offers a strong portfolio of resources to assist entrepreneurs and point them in the right direction. She first attended the BizAid Business Orientation which covered the first steps to take when starting a business including business plan development. After the orientation, Harper was able to secure one-on-one counseling sessions with a BizAid coach. These meetings provide technical assistance to small business owners. She then continued on to more specialized business topic classes taught in conjunction with the University of Texas Professional Development Center. While attending the “Roadmap to Success: How to Write a Business Plan” training, the UT instructors were able to breakdown the process and provide much-needed feedback to developing her business plan for Tots ‘N Tutors. In order to focus the direction of her business strategy, she conducted research at the Business Solutions Center to retrieve demographic data. Additionally, she was able to access a multitude of business templates to complete her overall plan.
As she continues to work towards full-scale implementation, Harper has discovered that access to capital is one of the most challenging aspects of starting a new business. She found Meet The Lender 2013: Business Loan Fair hosted by SBDP to be helpful in reaching out to potential lenders. Under the guidance of her BizAid coach, Lance McNeill of Business and Community Lenders of Texas, she has now initiated a crowdfunding campaign to raise the necessary funds to fulfill the first three months of operating expenses along with purchasing student supplies and manipulatives. The crowdfunding campaign will continue until January 8th, 2014. Moving forward, Wilda Harper will use the knowledge she has gained to strategically manage her business and follow her passion, “I have always been passionate about educating children. It is rewarding to know that I can give them the knowledge that is necessary to make them a success now, and in the future.”
For more information about Tots 'N Tutors, visit http://totsntutors.com/