Business Models, Business Mums: How to get the best of both worlds.

Nemo Swimming Director, Theresa and her son

It’s International Women’s Day 2019! As #IWD trends each year, the waves of women who want to ‘be their own boss’ continue to rise.

Taking the plunge

In this blog, Theresa Nicholson, director of Nemo Swimming, chats candidly about her experiences of building a business model and being a model business mum. Sitting down with Theresa, I decided to dive in at the deep end (pun very much intended) and ask her THE question: why did you decide to start Nemo Swimming?

“My son was the inspiration behind my business model”, Theresa begins. “When he was a baby, I worked as a baby-swimming teacher. As a working mum, I wanted something that most mums are trying to find: a flexible ‘work-life’ balance. However, it wasn’t just my own needs that drove me. My son had been learning to swim since he was a baby, but when he was three, I noticed that there was nothing out there in terms of swimming lessons that met the requirements of that age group. Since I was already in the swimming industry, it was from here that I was able to find gap in the market and  began Nemo Swimming.”

“Baby swimming is such a rewarding industry, and part of my job as director of Nemo Swimming is to help develop that crucial bond between baby and parent in the early stages. What I’m particularly fascinated by is nurturing a child’s independence, as when they get to three years old, their caregiver stops coming into the water with them (a big step for both child and parent.) This is when my creativity can really come into play! Most people are quite tentative about teaching this age group – which is part of what drove me to pursue my business model further. I’m a firm believer that if you trust in your own knowledge, the child with trust in you too.”

Let’s talk about role reversal: when mum becomes the ‘breadwinner’

Of course, International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the social, economic and political achievements of women – from a business perspective, this is about promoting equality and breaking down old-fashioned ‘roles’ of men going out to work and women staying at home. But what are the real-life effects of this role reversal on your family life?

“I’m originally from London, so when I was starting out, I didn’t have my family around me. My husband made the decision to drop some hours at work and dedicate that time to the household instead – which I’ve been fortunate to have. However, while I celebrate my freedom of being able to focus on my business, there’s one feeling that has always been hard to overcome, and not a lot of people openly talk about: guilt. You feel guilty at this role reversal: that suddenly, you’ve become the breadwinner; you feel guilty that you’re not spending enough time at home and when you do, you feel guilty you’re not investing enough in your business! It’s so important to commit to a regime and make an investment in yourself to overcome these ‘guilty’ feelings.”

From running a tight ship to plain sailing: tips for business mums

In a brilliant article on, Lisa Druxman writes “My family flourishes most when I run it like my business”. I asked Theresa if she identified with this statement: “It sounds a bit authoritarian!”, she laughs, “but I do agree. For me, this means allocating specific ‘family time’: phones off, feet up, and absolutely no talking business! It’s not all plain sailing though, and often, the flexibility of your work sometimes isn’t as flexible as you’d like, so you’ve got to be strict. Running a business and being a mum is a tough job – and I’m still learning how to run myself like a business: I’ve got a really strong work ethic, and I’m definitely guilty of not carving out any ‘me’ time.”

For any woman thinking of starting their own business, Theresa suggests these three tips:

  1. Be in business for yourself, not by yourself – but always look after yourself! Listen to your own needs. Don’t short change yourself by never giving yourself that essential ‘me’ time that you need.


  1. Base your business on your passions: this way, you will be able to better listen to what your business needs, allowing it to grow organically.


  1. Finally, I asked Theresa to share an inspirational quote to celebrate International Women’s Day:


“Behind every great business woman… is a really great team! I couldn’t do anything without my team behind me. Always remember how important it is to reward, praise and thank them.”


Happy International Women’s Day from the Nemo swimming team!

Are you reeled in by the idea of starting your own business? Find our Nemo swimming franchise opportunity at




Five factors that you should be considering buying a franchise

Buying a franchise is exciting (or at least it should be!) Let’s be honest – for many people, it’s also rather daunting. Working for yourself can be a big change, and the opportunity to ‘be your own boss’ can trigger many of the following questions: how can you be sure that you’re making the right decision? How do you pick the franchise that’s right for you? Where do you even start?!

In this blog, Nemo Swimming outlines five factors that you should be considering when evaluating any franchise opportunity.

1. ‘Fit’

The market for baby, toddler, and children’s classes is continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate. With this growth, there is a huge choice of activities for parents to pick from. From a franchise point of view, this brings so many exciting opportunities. When looking at these opportunities, it is important to consider whether you could see yourself delivering the type of services that the franchisor has to offer. Find out how that franchisor operates: does this way of working fit with your personality, your preferences, and your requirements?

It’s also important to consider how well you get on with the franchisor. Although you will be working for yourself once you purchase your chosen franchise, you won’t – at least you shouldn’t – be working by yourself. You’re bound to have lots of questions for any potential franchisor, but they should also want to get to know you. The questions that they ask about you will give you a good indication as to whether you will be a valued extension of their brand, or if you will be viewed simply as ‘another franchisee’.

2. Cost

When you start looking at franchise opportunities, you’ll find that the cost of packages varies significantly. For each opportunity you look at, it is helpful to consider what you are – and what you are not – getting. Most franchises involve an upfront cost and then a recurring monthly fee. Some will ask you to start paying the monthly fee straight away, and others will be once you start delivering. Think about how much money you will need to be making to operate profitably after paying this fee. Once you have a figure in mind, work back from there and determine how many hours of delivery this might equate to. Ask yourself, does this fit with your expectations? Also look at how this monthly fee, as well as any upfront cost, is used to drive forward the brand that you are buying in to – a lower monthly fee may mean that less investment is being made in marketing, for example. It’s important that you consider how this will affect you once you start operating.

3. Support

If you’re buying a franchise, you can expect to be able to tap into the expertise that your chosen franchisor has amassed over the years. With this in mind, it’s worthwhile considering why the business has decided to franchise. It is useful to consider questions such as how long had they been operating before they made this decision? How had their business grown? What did their business look like at the time? This will give you an insight into the franchisor’s ‘business intelligence’, and can be useful when trying to determine what kind of support you can expect once the franchise agreement has been signed. You should also ask what sort of marketing support you could expect to receive; most franchisors will offer support here, but what that support looks like varies significantly. Does the franchisor have a preferred booking system? If so, is this an ‘off the shelf’ system, or has it been designed specifically with their business in mind? Your franchisor should be a fountain of knowledge when it comes to running a business, but you may also have access to a wider support network, such as other franchisees, an in-house marketing team, a training crew, and more. It is crucial to your success as a franchisee to find out what this support network looks like.

4. Return

‘Return’ is an important consideration for anybody who is starting up their own business: how much money can you, realistically, expect to make, and how quickly? The answer to this question will depend on many factors, including your own drive and determination. Your franchisor should, however, be able to give you some indication as to what you can expect to earn during the first year and beyond. When they give you these indications, look at how they have been calculated, and then consider whether you feel this is feasible for you. As discussed earlier, think about what support the franchisor will deliver to help you hit these figures.

5. Future

Let’s fast forward, just for a minute. You’ve been running your franchise for a couple of years now. Things are going great. You love the freedom that this opportunity has brought you – but what’s next? Are there options to extend? How can you continue to grow your business, as well as your own skills? Your future as a franchisee is always something to bear in mind when evaluating franchise opportunities. It’s equally important, though, to consider what happens if things don’t go to plan. If you’ve carefully evaluated some of the things we have discussed above, you – hopefully, at least – shouldn’t encounter any huge surprises. However, you might find that, for whatever reason, you’re not enjoying life as a franchisee. It is here that you might consider you other options. Most franchise packages will run, initially, for a period of x years, but there will usually be an option to sell after a specific period of time. It’s probably worthwhile looking at this, just in case.

The route to becoming a franchisee has a lot to take in on the way, but we hope you’ve found this blog useful. Why not check out our list questions to ask when buying a franchise. You can also find out more about Nemo Swimming’s franchise package here.