Tell us about yourself?
A teacher with a passion for languages with more than 29 years of experience in the UK and abroad – Born and raised in Brazil. The founder and Director of London Lessons in Shepherds Bush.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
It is important to understand and respect your community. They are a very important part of your business. Our customers are the heart and soul of our school.
They are the reason we exist. A good relationship between us generates jobs to our teachers and keeps the school open.
At the same time, we offer our expertise in languages and help our clients achieve their goals, aspirations and dreams.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Less is more. It is important to focus your attention and energy to do things better not bigger, as growing is a consequence when we do things well and it shouldn’t be the objective.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
You can only have a personal life if you have enough money to delegate tasks to a different number of employees in different departments.
An entrepreneur who tries to do everything or be everywhere is bound to either fail or have no personal life.
Or if they are Elon Musk, then they can manage more than 110.000 full-time employees, and work between 80-100 hours weekly, without going mad or losing their family.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Since an early age, I always wanted to work with languages.
At the age of 23, I started teaching in Brazil and when I moved to London in 2000 a friend suggested that I should send my CV to schools and teach Brazilian Portuguese.
I worked as a Brazilian Portuguese teacher for 11 years for several schools around London. In 2011, I founded London Lessons with the support of another great friend.
In 2016 we started teaching many foreign languages, including Spanish, Italian, French, German, Mandarin, Arabic and also English as a foreign language, while still teaching Brazilian Portuguese.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
The quality of our teaching is definitely our magic sauce.
We don’t have a fancy and impressive building with expensive chairs, but we do have great teachers and we all share the same passion for languages and teaching.
We truly care and do our best so our students can learn faster, while still respecting their pace of learning.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Sale is one of the most important and difficult part of any business.
You need to find your customers and give them a good reason to choose you over your competitors.
We chose to offer quality to our customers, but still at a fair price. So, they have two good reasons to come to us.
You have to find ways to stand out and attract your customers, but most important than attracting them, you need to learn how to retain them and this will happen only when you offer good quality lessons.
In other words, value for their money.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
Brexit and the Pandemic.
We are still not completely over them, but we are fighting and adapting, so we can deliver good lessons for years to come.
Brexit, with no doubt is the biggest challenge to many business and we have seen companies closing down due to Brexit and then the Pandemic when most of them were still trying to adapt to what Brexit brought to us.
What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?
London Is a great place to live and work.
It is one of the most important capitals in the world. People from around the globe come to England for several reasons and London is the heart, where everything happens.
It is vibrant, with so much to see and do and it is a safe place to operate any business,
Are there any issues with having a London based business? Have you experienced these?
Again the biggest problem has been Brexit, which will still have impact on businesses for years to come.
How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?
This has a huge impact on all small to medium business at least.
Our business is very small, so the impact is tremendous and we can’t pass the extra costs to our clients, otherwise we will lose them. The only thing we can do is to work harder to get more clients.
Increasing the amounts of clients is the best solution at least for now, otherwise we will have less clients and more pressure.
For example, places where we generally advertise that increased their prices 3x more than what they were charging previously will have less of our advertisement with them, at least for now.
So, it means, they get much more money for every single advert we place, but instead of placing 3-4 adverts per week, we are doing one every two-three weeks and looking for better places where to advertise.
We don’t want our clients going elsewhere, so instead of increasing our prices, we keep them the same and we try to get new clients to cover for the higher cost of living.
If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?
I don’t see our business relocating to another City in the UK. If we closed our doors in London, we would move to another European Country, probably Spain, Italy or France.
How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?
As previously mentioned, a huge negative impact which will harm us for a long time.
For business like ours, Brexit was a huge mistake.
But the same as many people from European Countries can’t now come and study here, the same will happen in years to come to English teenagers/adults who would love to go to live and study abroad, but who will be barred by the bureaucracy of Brexit.
What the British people did to this Country will harm the poorer for sure.
What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?
Hopefully, still standing, but we are targeting to have more branches in London and expand our online presence even further.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
They can email us on [email protected] – They can check our website http://londonlessons.org – they can follow us on instagram, twitter or facebook – they can pay us a visit at 2, Shepherds Bush Road, W6 7PJ or give us a call on 07986 716 205.