How to be a successful entrepreneur
| February 14, 2013
Phoenix Forward: Careers

A key trait of entrepreneurs who make it is optimism, and it’s no wonder. If you’re looking to start a business, the power of positivity is a valuable force to have on your side.
You’ll also need a strong work ethic, a solid financial plan and, of course, a sound idea. Here, four University of Phoenix alumni describe why they struck out on their own and offer advice to aspiring entrepreneurs:

Believe in yourself and your dream.

Beatrice Hair left her job as an elementary school teacher to open Salisbury Tutoring Academy, a “one-on-one school” in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Starting her own company wasn’t easy. “I lost my peer group [of teachers],” Hair notes. While running her business, she earned a master’s in education from the University and found a new peer group of classmates from all over the country. “Some [of them] are still part of my think tank and are dear friends today,” she says.

Still, she feels like self-reliance was the secret to her success. “Passionately believe in what you will be doing,” she encourages. “If you need too much advice, do not open a business, because you must rely on your instincts.”

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Education in America: Losing the Three-Legged Race

Posted: 7/13/11 05:51 PM ET

Every time I hear about how school systems have to cut their budgets, I hear the mantra of "back to basics," how we can cut all the arts and extracurricular programs as long as we get back to the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.

What I rarely hear is how the education itself needs to get back to basics. As we focus on shrinking budgets, lower test scores and falling reading levels, we seem to miss the bigger picture. From the earliest colonial times in this country, education was a partnership between the teacher, the student and the parent. If we're going to talk about education, let's start with that covenant, that three-legged table that has always propped up public education in America.

TEACHERS: We are hiring untrained teachers right out of college and at the same time, we are firing experienced teachers. As a result, we are seeing much turnover in the teaching field. Exposing a teacher's scores makes the teacher accountable, but also makes him or her resentful. It is not fair outside of the context of simultaneous accountability to parents and students too. Teachers do need accountability, but they need support and fairness as well. How is it fair to judge a teacher on his or her scores, if that teacher had a student with a medical issue that was not resolved all year by the parent? There must be accountability in place for all three -- parents, students, and teachers. If an individual setting is not working, which leg of the table needs strengthening? Can this be our new dialogue? If resources are low, how can business, government and administration all work together to re-create a setting that will work. The achievement gap is not about race or money. It is about the three-legged table and whether it is in place or not. Let's take the teachers we have and coach them into how to work the three-legged table. Let's teach them how to ask for help when the student and parent legs are broken and how to engage not only the student, but the parents as well.

Michael Kirst, emeritus education professor at Stanford, estimates that 60 percent of incoming community college students and 30 percent of freshmen at four-year colleges need remedial reading and math courses. In Charlotte, North Carolina, 30 percent of high school freshmen drop out before they graduate. This problem needs to be addressed on an individual basis. Do we think these students are dropping out because they're dumb? Or are they losing interest in their education because education has lost interest in them. Standardized testing, budget cuts, growing class sizes, dwindling numbers of teachers all add up to making students feel as if they are being abandoned. We cannot limit ourselves to engaging their minds. We must engage their hearts, ignite their dreams and show them that education is the key to unlocking it all.

PARENTS: Parents in the top range of our achievement gap know how to provide quiet time for homework, have their children to bed on time, provide proper nutrition, hire tutors for customized, individualized programs and set the stage for success at home. Parents in the lower range are often challenged simply to provide any kind of meal, and those in the middle are working as hard as they can but still fall short. However, many parents in the top range volunteer at school, but their time is not used wisely. In this era, it's all hands on deck. These parents should be put to work providing as much one-on-one attention as they can. We know there are parents who do not do their part, but instead of trying to punish them, we can help establish accountability on their parts in return for support for their child in the classroom. Helping to stabilize those children will afford teachers and administrators the ability to show that their kids can succeed with help, and present a contract to their parents about the basics for nutrition, sleep and creating a home environment conducive to learning and homework.

We all have to be committed to doing our part to educate our next generation, and the only way to get back to basics is one child at a time, one parent at a time, one teacher at a time. We need to rebuild this three-legged table so it can support the next generation and beyond.

Teacher Turns Her Passion into Profit

Beatrice Hair's tutoring academy gives students an alternative to the one-size-fits-all approach to education.
By: Beatrice R.D. Hair | 09/13/2010

Stepping into my first classroom as a new teacher on the first day of school, I thought to myself, "I'm going to retire from this very room in 30 years."

Little did I know all the lessons I'd learn over the next eight years, including the unfortunate fact that a good number of children are falling through the cracks. Learning is a highly personalized process, and the one-size-fits-all approach to education is regularly failing our students. I realized I could have a more impactful role on these kids outside the classroom.

This meant a career change--I went from elementary schoolteacher to entrepreneur and business owner. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of my students and create a system that helped all students learn. Every student benefits from one-on-one instruction. And no matter their financial situation, parents and guardians prioritize--and pay for--programs that benefit their children's educational needs.

The first student I tutored was the friend of a child in my class. Word of my tutoring sessions spread quickly through the community, and in a span of six months, I found myself in high demand.

I founded the Salisbury Tutoring Academy in 1996 and started offering tutoring instruction out of my home, with the assistance of two additional teachers I hired. I began tutoring elementary and middle-school students because I was certified to teach those grade levels. I quickly found that my teaching and learning philosophies easily transcended age and grade levels, and helped all students succeed. STA now provides one-on-one instruction for children ages 4 and up, students with learning disabilities and even some adults. STA students range from low performers to honor roll students and those who want to improve their study skills or prepare for tests such as the SAT.
I created several core principles for my business and built upon these. They include:

• Successful teaching requires children to be supplied with both an emotionally secure and physically safe place to study and learn.

• The learning environment must facilitate trust and be devoid of ridicule.
Shortly after it started, STA outgrew my home. My small staff of seven and I moved to the educational building at a local church to keep costs low. This was a very busy time; running my own business consumed almost every second of every day. Fortunately, my labor paid off and STA began to grow exponentially. In 1999, I purchased and designed a new, fully equipped school facility and moved my business into its current building, which has 19 one-on-one tutoring rooms and two audiovisual rooms. It remains STA's home today.

I was able to design and build a state-of-the-art tutoring facility three years after opening because of STA's initial success. STA was profitable from the beginning because demand was high and I kept startup costs low. The biggest investment was my time.

As my knowledge of business continued to grow, I realized I had to augment my skills to set STA up for further expansion. I was well-versed in teaching and child psychology, but I needed to supplement my business knowledge. Fortunately, I found a program that accommodated my demanding schedule. I attained my Masters of Education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix in 2004 while running a business full time. The best part is that I was able to apply what I was learning in the classroom to my business in real time.

The added value my master's degree brought to my business is reflected in STA's continued growth. My business has had a steady gross income for 14 years.

STA currently serves from 70 to 100 students, and I oversee a staff of 25 to 30 teachers who are retired, tutor part-time or work full-time in the classroom and tutor after school. Each teacher is trained to use the customized programs and techniques I designed. I also use this proprietary training system for franchise development.

In 2007, I founded a sister company called the Salisbury Tutoring Academy Franchise Group LLC and opened an additional facility. Franchises have the option of being part-time or full-time businesses, allowing greater flexibility for new entrepreneurs. My goal is to have 1,000 franchises across the country by 2020. Franchising allows me to reach more students of all ages across the country with established programs and effective teaching methods.

The biggest challenges of franchising STA have been protecting my proprietary teaching methods and finding franchisees who share my teaching philosophy. I have to ensure STA's continued strong reputation to allow for expansion in the future. This means legally protecting my unique curriculum and learning methods, and making careful decisions when selecting a franchisee. I have learned a lot about the legal aspects of business because I constantly adjust my programs to fit the needs of new students.
I am actively searching for franchisees and have spoken to many people, mostly referrals and attendees at franchise conferences. I'm looking for those who are passionate about teaching and helping students, not just running a business, to ensure that STA's principles are upheld.

I attribute STA's growth and success over the years to word-of-mouth: My students and their families are great ambassadors for the work we do at STA.

The personalized instruction and support STA provide have proved their positive impact on our students. After four months of one-on-one tutoring, on average, our students gain 10 months in grade level. Our average gain for the SAT is 390 points in six months.

While my path as an entrepreneur has been filled with milestones, the ultimate recognition as an educator and entrepreneur came 14 years after I started my business. In May, I received the 2010 North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year award and was invited to the White House to be congratulated by President Barack Obama.
Since my first day of school as a new teacher, I've learned many lessons as an educator and also as a businesswoman:

1. Before you "step of the cliff" to own a business, be sure you have a strong support system.

2. Operating and owning a school is an education, and an educational adventure about business, human nature, the how-tos of working with clients, managing a staff and finding trustworthy employees.

3. Clients must always know how you are better than the competition. For example, STA has three distinguishing factors. Our competition offers one-on-three tutoring for the same price as our one-on-one tutoring. A trademarked, proven product is superior to after-school baby-sitting and help with homework. It is better to find a tutoring business that meets student needs K-12 rather than looking fruitlessly for a person who may not be able to offer consistency.

4. No matter what type of business you choose to run, be sure to stay current on your certifications and credentials. I earned my master's degree online while simultaneously operating my business. This was a very powerful way to improve myself without disrupting the flow of my relationships with my clients.

Beatrice Hair, who founded the Salisbury Tutoring Academy, was recognized this year as the 2010 North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year.

Copyright (2110) by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved-


President Obama Congratulates Beatrice Hair at Rose Garden Celebration

Front Page Newspaper Article

As President Barack Obama urged Congress to pass a $30 billion small business jobs package while also honoring the Small Business Association's (SBA) business persons of the year in the White House Rose Garden, Salisbury business owner Beatrice Hair sat in the front row.

"This is an issue that involves putting our government on the side of the small-business owners who create most of the jobs in this country," Obama said Tuesday.

Hair, the 2010 North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year and founder of Salisbury Tutoring Academy, is celebrating her accomplishment all week in Washington, D.C. during National Small Business Week.

"The Small Business Association has rolled out the red carpet," Hair said. Meeting Obama and hearing him speak, was "unbelievable," she said.

"It was surreal to actually be sitting there," she said. "He encouraged us that we are the people that run the small businesses, and that he was there to honor us."

Hair was one of about 12 people who Obama shook hands with, and the only one he got a photo with.

"I was awestruck," she said. "You can see a person on TV. But when you're literally there, it's close contact. I could see everything he was about as a person, and the strength in which he was conveying his message."

Hair said Obama stressed that America's economy was counting on the small business owners.

"He taught us the economy is riding on people like us to take risks, which has been the across-the-board message," she said.

Sunday night, upon her arrival to the week-long event, the SBA welcomed all 2010 business persons by flashing their businesses on large screens, along with a banner with her name and business.

Hair said the reception Sunday and events since have been filled with many different people, "who are just excited about their work."

"Hundreds of people here are actually passionate about what they do," she said. "It's very refreshing and inspirational. I feel like I've just made lifelong friends here."

Hair has also met several congressmen and senators, and was interviewed by a local television station, with the reporter asking her what it was like to start a business from scratch.

"I feel really proud to be a North Carolinian."

During a gathering party in the same room where the president holds events such as the inaugural ball, Hair and other business people received a special message from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"She was videotaped in China telling us to keep doing what we're doing, share your ideas and take your business global," Hair said.

She said her students back in Salisbury were anxious to hear the stories about her trip, and for her return.

Her biggest thanks for the entire experience goes to the University of Phoenix, she said.

"They customized my master's degree for me so that I could get my master's while I was working," she said, noting that the University of Phoenix customized her online learning just as she does for Salisbury Tutoring Academy students.

"This is like an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime, breathtaking experience," she said.

Hair was nominated for the North Carolina Small Businessperson of the Year award by Jenifer Flatley of the University of Phoenix Alumni Association.


The Salisbury Tutoring Academy, Ltd and Mrs. Hair have been featured on the front page of the Salisbury Post for its successes numerous times.

Some Spotlights on Salisbury Tutoring Academy in the Press!

Below are several articles from newspapers and magazines regarding The Salisbury Tutoring Academy. Click on a picture to view a full-sized version of the clipping. (The full sized articles are large, so download times maybe be long for modem users.)

"Mrs. Hair is published nationally for the third time"
Mrs. Hair's article is
published in the
National Tutoring Magazine!!!!!

Rowan Business
January/February 2006
Locals Feel Blessed to
Have Met Pope

ADHD: Local woman publishes work on dealing with disorder



Among the participants Monday were, Mayor Susan Kluttz, Beatrice and Randy Hair, and Clayton Jones.



Medication and education are two of the biggest worries for parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Once a child has been diagnosed with ADHD, doctors must determine a course of treatment, and teachers must come up with the best way to help those students excel in school.


Article in Salisbury Post! (Large File)

What did Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and Babe Ruth have in common?.
They all had Attention Deficit Disorder.
But they probably never got the chance some Rowan County children, diagonised with ADHD, got last week -- their own two-day summer camp.
"Children have a hard time fitting in or following simple school rules such as sitting still," said Beatrice Hair, Director of Salisbury Tutoring Academy. " This camp will give them a chance to use their energy, exert it to something positive and at the same time meet other kids just like themselves." ... [more]

Rowan Salisbury School System asked Beatrice Hair to help teach the ADHD Workshop with Dr. Koontz and Dr. Aiken. View the feedback from this Workshop. ... [more]