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#SelfStarterStories: From being and Ofsted inspector to becoming the founder of a consultancy firm

Vanessa Dooley Ofsted Inspector.jpg

This week's #selfstarterstory features Vanessa Dooley, Founder of Jigsaw Early Years Consultancy.

At Jigsaw we work with you and your team to be able to achieve best outcomes for children. We are passionate about ensuring you are promoting excellent practice and be able to have IMPACT on children's lives.

#PickYourselfUK caught up with Vanessa to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey.

What was your last job?: Ofsted inspector and Course Director for Foundation Degree delivering Children’s development learning in conjunction with University of Reading. 

When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?:

Since writing the ‘Are you ready for your inspection’ book I have felt that I need to come out of my comfort zone more and tell people who I am and my why. It would be great to get nominated for awards to add to my portfolio but there is a time issue and not many people have that.

So I made the decision to do it myself and see if I got a response. I am passionate at delivering outcomes for children and early years practitioners and eager to show that with any help we are able to make an impact in children’s lives.  

What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: 

The most challenging part of starting a business is believing in yourself. You can quite easily persuade others you can do it but then words start creeping in thinking can you do it… and the result is I said to myself PROVE it. 

I have always been working for other people whether it was the college, settings, or Ofsted and putting in 110% for other people. I am more than happy putting in 110% for my business and in fact I would say my mind does not switch off and always thinking of new training, new ideas and new marketing strategies. 

Jigsaw Website - October 2018

Jigsaw Website - October 2018

What is your favourite business book and why?: Starts with Why, Simon Sinek

The reason is his writing inspire and motivate me to find out my WHY? and the purpose of who I am and my business… this I always keep in my mind when I have any doubts about who I am.

There are many people who do what I do nationwide but I feel I want to give that extra confidence in helping Early Years settings achieve their ultimate goal and improve outcomes for children. 

Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: 

For 18 months I did everything myself and have just started to outsource to a colleague of mine to do some admin and marketing for the business. This has helped greatly to ensure that I stick to what I need to do.

However, I know I am bit of a control freak and liked to try and do everything myself. I have learnt so much this year from creating marketing projects, photoshop to creating online courses and now creating an online programme for all early years settings as a byproduct from the #1 best selling book; Are you ready for your inspection. 

What is your favourite marketing tool ?: Creating ideas and images which are powerful and inviting to entice the reader using Facebook adverts, and sharing ideas of best practice. Word of mouth is a huge marketing tool and always strive to give excellent customer service to ensure that each person feels they are the only one. 

How do you market your business?: Social Media i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn 

When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: Jigsaw Early Years Consultancy was launched in December 2016, I was approached as an Ofsted inspector and asked if I could instruct in safeguarding for a whole early years setting. With an excellent testimonial from them, Jigsaw’s delegate list grew and today we have trained over 3000 people. 

How did you get your first traffic to your website?: Using the ideas of blogs which was new to me and driving visitors to our website and creating free downloads to get traffic was another skill I had to learn.

This engagement helped with the marketing of who I was. I wasn’t afraid to give away resources for free as I knew people would come back to me..it works. I always give settings a call after I have inspected them to see how they are and how they are feeling and also contact them the next week to see how the action plan is going. 

Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?: The one person who believed I could do this was my husband, Mr D. 

He had faith but what he also does is question everything I do. Sometimes this can be irritating but if, and when I answer him it gives me the confidence to know what I am doing will be right! Method in my madness. 

What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: 

You will kick yourself if you did not do something you are passionate about. Work out if there is a niche and go for it and believe in yourself... manifesting good thoughts.

We all have wobbles and times when we can procrastinate ,but remain focused, write lists and ensure you have achieved something every day . 

Go for it! 

If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: 

Peter Jones: The reason is I would like to pick his brains to ask how he decides whether a business is viable or not. I feel he would challenge me as a business owner and ask my why, and purpose. Always keep that in the forefront of your mind. 

To stay up to date with Vanessa's entrepreneurial journey, please find her on Facebook below:

  facebook | twitter | instagram | website | blog

Vanessa Dooley has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2018. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.