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The Outdoors Project arrives in Lincoln

As a child, I was very much a climbing trees and adopting pet snails kind of girl. I spent all my time outdoors: getting thoroughly mucky, walking the Yorkshire Moors on weekends, and spending many camping holidays in the Lake District.

After graduating university in Lincoln, I worked with special educational needs children for several years and eventually trained as a primary school teacher, something I had always hoped to do. I would still spend the school holidays hiking, camping, and doing adventure sports around the UK. After, I would arrive back at school with stories to tell my class, only to find that I was met with shock that I was happy to get so muddy and out of my comfort zone. So, residential trips became my favourite part of the school year as it meant I could encourage my class to get outdoors and try something new. They would always come home more confident and a little taller somehow.

After teaching for seven years, I was beginning to find myself extremely run down from working every hour that I could. I realised I had no time for the things or the people I loved anymore. I knew I had to change something, but I still loved the part of my job that really mattered: working with children. I made a list, everything I loved about teaching and everything I was truly passionate about.

I found an advert for The Outdoors Project on the Did Teach website. I contacted Sam and had a chat about TOP and my own experience of working with children in an outdoors setting. I was blown away by everything they were doing; the website and marketing was effective, professional and really perfectly matched to the company. Joel and Sam both spoke with such passion and belief in what they do, and the reviews spoke for themselves.

It was everything I had wanted from a career, but I had never opened a business before or taken such a leap. My partner and I talked it through for about a week, during which I tried to weigh up the pros and cons of becoming self-employed and starting a franchise. I was scared, yes, but I genuinely could not see us failing. There is no provision like it in Lincoln and with HQs support and backing I already believed in the company and knew it was the perfect opportunity.

Now I just had to see the clubs in action! I came to Brighton for the day and Sam showed me around the sites, filled with happy, engaged children and clearly well-trained and passionate staff. Each site was totally different but showed how their brilliant idea can work just about anywhere. Every question I had about set up, day-to-day running and long-term growth were answered there and then.

I put together my business plan, applied for start-up funding and within a month I was ready and confidently signing the contract. By this time, I had researched the local area in depth, found out about cash flow forecasts and set my first targets for the first three years of trading. It’s been a massive journey of learning about running a business but any time I had a question Google couldn’t answer, Sam was on the end of the phone, happy to help get me set up and running in the time frame I wanted.

I am unbelievably glad that I took that initial step into the unknown. Sam and Joel have supported me throughout and it is fantastic to know that I have two absolute experts in their field on the end of the phone if ever I need them. I know that I can bring my own experience of working with children to their incredible brand and creatively planned activities.