9 Top tips to change career and run your own business

Creation Station Franchise do what you love

Mum to three, multi-award-winning entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker and founder of The Creation Station, Sarah Cressall, shares her top tips on ‘things to consider when thinking about changing career and running your own business.

“I’m delighted to see the increase in women in business and the contributions women make gaining more recognition. The recent Natwest report shows that 37 percent of all new franchise owners are women. This reflects the growing desire for women to choose their working hours and to gain control over their working life.

Deciding to change career and run your own business is exciting and scary all rolled into one. But where do you start and how do you know if running your own business is for you?

I’ve put together my top tips for you to consider. You probably won't see these anywhere else as they are based on over twenty-five years of running businesses and supporting over one hundred people to run their own Creation Station franchise business

I hope there is a nugget or two that you will be able to take out to help you on your own journey of happiness and fulfillment.

1. What is important to you?

You will spend a lot of your time being involved in your business, so I suggest you look at things you value and enjoy. That said, to run a successful business, your role will ultimately be marketing your business rather than just ‘doing the do’. I believe you are better placed to market something you are passionate about and something you believe benefits your customers.

I set up The Creation Station in 2002 to help inspire imaginations and support people to run a successful flexible business.  The core values are about unlocking potential through creative experiences.  I’m hugely privileged that together with our team of 100+ franchise owners we’ve been able to inspire over 1,000,00 kids and adults and our core values are as strong as ever.

Take away nugget

  • What will the core values of your business be? What is important to you?

Creation Station Brand Values2. You will work harder in your business than you will as an employee

Running a business is pretty full on! You have to wear many hats and there is no one there to tell you what to do! It’s very different to a job where your roles and responsibilities are laid out.

You will be entering a steep learning curve, which is fantastic if you are like learning new skills and embracing new challenges. If you prefer to be told what to do and finish at 5pm every day, then running your own business may not be the ideal choice for you.

However, if you are self-motivated and love learning new skills then running your own business can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding career choices you ever make.

Our franchise owners often decide to run their own business for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • They want more control of their working hours
  • They are tired of missing out on key family events and want more flexibility
  • They want to benefit from their own hard work
  • They have always wanted to run their own business but didn’t know where to start
  • They want to do something more fulfilling and rewarding

Often the decisions to make a change and run their own business happen at watershed periods of your life. It’s worth reflecting on your own situation and looking at what you want to change and why.

Take away nugget

  • Reflect on what you want to change and why you want to run your own business.

"I was ready for a new challenge, doing something I loved and that I felt passionate about. I googled 'business' 'art' 'children' and came up with The Creation Station franchise - best google search I've ever done. Love the variety, love the flexibility, love the children, love the babies, love the art and craft, love the business, love the support and love being my own boss"  Jann Thorpe inspires imaginations in Macclesfield, Cheshire

3. From the big picture to success in the details

Running your own business means that there are lots of things to do. You will be in charge of planning the direction of your business and overall strategy, business and financial planning, marketing activities and resources, building your sales pipeline and following up, negotiating the deals, managing the delivery of the work, implementing quality and safety standards, ensuring legal compliance, creating and sharing social content and planning and innovating for the future.

It can be hard to know where to start, so starting with a simple business plan can help get ‘your ducks in order’ as my mum would say!

It’s worth doing your market research and looking at other businesses in the sector that you are looking at entering. Do research in other sectors too as you can often get ideas from other industries that you could apply to your own business.

Being part of a great team is one of the many things I’m very grateful for. We have a lot of talented franchise owners in our business so we share good practice and test and develop new ideas. As a creative company, we continue to innovate, test, tweak and develop and it’s great fun to connect with people who share your values. We have gained a lot of recognition for the activities and support we provide customers and our franchise owners. 

Take away nugget

  • Research and develop your ideas for your business. Some ideas may be for later on but keep a record of them, they may be helpful or future use. If you are looking at a franchise you gain the benefit of years of research and development and a well known trusted brand.  

Some of the recognition includes the following: 

  • The Creation Station is ranked as number 15 in the TOP UK franchises.
  • Activities are rated 5-Star by customers  on Trustpilot
  • Rated 5-Star in an independent  franchisee satisfaction survey 2018,2017 and 2016 
  • Winner Most Supportive Franchise and Top Franchise Award – Working Mums 2018
  • Winner Sylvia Anderson Award for Creativity 2017
  • Winner Best Franchise Children’s Services – Best Franchise Awards 2017
  • Winner Best Website – Franchise Marketing Awards 2017
  • Winner Excellence and Innovation – Children’s Education Services 2017
  • Finalist Richard Branson’s Impact Award 2016
  • Winner Best Creative Play Award 2015
  • Finalist Festival Supplier Awards 2015
  • Winner Best Woman Franchisor UK 2012 - EWIF Awards
  • Winner Best Franchisee Marketing Support 2013
  • Winner ‘Crème de la Crème’ Business Award 2011

Creation Station Franchise awards 2018

4.   What's your niche going to be?

You have probably heard that it’s better to specialise than to try to be everything to everyone.

At Creation Station, we specialise in nurturing creativity. We started working with kids back in 2002 and as we became the UK’s leading creative provider we have been able to develop our services to different markets – i.e; parties, events, adults and the elderly etc.

Take away nugget

  • What’s your niche and specialism?

Do what you love 

5. You will be your best marketing asset

I believe business, in a nutshell, is all about three things:

  1. How you make a difference
  2. Connect and gain business
  3. Connect and retain business  

You need to be clear in the value you provide, attract and sell great services to customers, then look after your customers.

Selling doesn’t come naturally to many but it is an essential part of growing a successful business but there are lots of ways of doing this. No one like to be sold to, but people do value getting help and being treated really well.

At Creation Station, our approach is making friends and helping people. We believe we need to do the hard work to help our customers know, like and trust us. That’s why we develop lots of great content for our franchise owners to share and give out for free.

Take away nugget

  • How can you add value to your customers so they can know, like and trust you?

Being authentic is important. Here's a photograph from our inspiring imaginations conference. The theme was unleash the wonder within!

Creation Station Conference Super Heros

6. Know your numbers

It’s critical to know what your key numbers are. For instance, if you need to generate ‘x’ profit, you can work backwards to indenting how many ‘y’ do you need.

Other key numbers include how many leads do you need to generate the profit you need, what’s your conversion rate. When you start to measure these you can then work to increase and improve them.

When our franchise owners are working on their plans we use a forecast tool that helps them identify what activities they need to do to gain the revenue they need.

Take away nugget

  • Identify what revenue you need and work backwards

7. Get great support

Working for yourself has lots of pros and cons. You are in control of your hours and benefit from your own work. But it can also be a bit lonely and tough knowing what the right thing to do is.  There are lots of local networking groups so do try them out and find a group that feels right for you.  

One of the things our franchise owners talk about is our franchise family. A franchise offers a tried and tested business blueprint and has tailored support to help you as you grow and develop.

Because all our areas are exclusive and because of our culture, we are very supportive of each other. Whether it’s ideas for pitching for an intergenerational craft event, ideas for a specific themed crafts party or what to do with brown paper and beige paint! Having people who know you and your business is a great way to help you on your journey.

Take away nugget

  • Explore options to get the support you need
  • With a franchise, as well as investing in a well-known brand and a tried and tested business model, you are also investing in on-going support.  

8. Priorities

It’s very exciting starting your own business and as mentioned you will work harder than in a job. It can fill your waking hours and somehow enter your dreams too!

So, I believe it is really important you make time for the things that you value in your life, partner, family, kids, personal time, fitness etc.

Take away nugget

  • Take time to ensure you plan time for the big things in your life. Then everything else can fit around them.

9.  Feel the fear and do it anyway!

I know when I started my first business many moons ago that I wasn’t as experienced and recognised as I am now.  Over the many years, I've gained advice and support. It's the same with our franchise owners. they have grown in so many ways as they develop their skills. 

I often hear people say they would love to run my own business but don’t do anything about it. Sometimes the fear of failure can stop us in our tracks.  But if you have done your research, your numbers, your plan and you are prepared to work hard, then it is worth seriously considering making the decision to change your career and run your own business.

People can worry about not getting everything right the first time, and failing at the first hurdle. My thought around the word ‘fail’ is that it really is just a first attempt in learning.

Creation Station - Fail definition

I know many of our franchise owners have left our 5-day comprehensive training programme and started earning straight away as they have received party bookings or event enquiries. The on-going support helps them at different parts of their business journey. A lot of the learning has already been done and we can support people on what is already tried and tested.

Take away nugget

  • Do your research, plans and get advice from people who are informed about the are you are looking to enter

I hope you find my thoughts on things to consider when changing career to run your own business helpful.  I wish you much success and happiness on your journey.

If you would like to find out about running your own flexible and rewarding Creation Station and to discover the support you receive when you join the franchise family download your franchise information pack.  It could be just what you are looking for.

Sarah Cressall

Best Selling Author, Multi-Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Speaker, Founder and Managing Director of The Creation Station.

Sarah Cressall craft business


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Owning my own Creation Station business provides me with the opportunity to enjoy an unbelievable work/life balance, which has matured alongside my growing classes and events. I have great job satisfaction, knowing that I enjoy the benefits immediately and personally for all the effort I pour into my classes. Reaching out and supporting 100s of families, whether for a morning or many terms is the beast glitter-ball of all; knowing I have made a difference to a child through my job makes every day a privilege.

Nicole Norman inspires imaginations in Stevenage, Hertfordshire