Interview with Michelle Drury, founder of I Learn Education

Read how entrepreneur Michelle Drury turned her career around from jumping from job to job and believing she wasn’t academic, to owning her own children’s nurseries.

What’s your career background?

I was a bit of a failure in my early career life, from not doing too well at school, to working in factories, jumping from one job to another. I never did very well, having low self-esteem not being very academic, always giving my parents a cause for concern!

However I learnt in my early twenties, what I lacked in intelligence, I made up for in passion and, as it turns out, quite a good business head.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

In 2003 I qualified as a probation officer, which I absolutely loved, but trying to fit full time working with a small family was so difficult. In 2006 I moved back to my hometown and saw a gap in the market for a children’s day nursery.

So this is where the idea grew from, I started my research and In 2008 I opened my first children’s day nursery, aged 28. I went in blind as my background had nothing to do with children or education!

Why do you feel so passionately about what you do?

Although I had a fantastic childhood, I grew up being oppressed for being a girl (old school family members). Even though at the time I struggled to deal with the situation, through this I am now very passionate about making sure that any child, whatever sex, can be whatever they want to be.

The advertising campaign #thisgirlcan is close to my heart, but equally boys should be empowered to be whoever they want to be. I am passionate in inspiring people to dream big, don’t let anything stop you achieving your dreams, and if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability!

Now 10 years later I am an ambitious, commercially-minded and committed business professional with over 10 years of experience in the Early Years Sector. Since 2008 I have two nurseries, going on to open my third nursery, have qualified as an Early Years Teacher, work as a Freelance Ofsted Inspector and offer private consultancy, training and support nationally.

I am passionate about quality in the Early Years sector, making sure that children receive the best possible care to help them reach their full potential, working hard to improve services nationally for our next generation.

How have you found balancing your business with your family?

Running my own businesses has definitely given me the flexibility I wanted whilst raising my young family. However I can also say juggling a career and family life is extremely difficult. Living with the guilt that I am always failing someone because I am focusing on the other is one of the biggest struggles I face.

However, I wouldn’t change any of it, my failures in life are what make me more determined to succeed. I am a positive example of, if I can succeed, anyone can. They just need someone to see it and help them find their own wings in whatever they want to do. “Dream big, you’ll be amazing”.

What’s your proudest business moment to date?

I have been selected as a finalist in the Best Business Women Awards in the Working with Children & Families category. On October 12th the winner will be announced out of the seven finalists from across the country at a black tie awards evening.

Who inspires you?

In terms of inspiration, my drive and motivation is more about being a positive role model and example to my children. I want them to see that they can be whatever they want to be, regardless of the challenges we face. Being academic is not the main factor in being successful in business, having a can do, never give up attitude is far more important!

What are your top three pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

  1. Be passionate about what you do.
  2. Dream big.
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail, that’s what make us stronger!

You can find out more about I Learn Education on their website