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One Year In: A Mentor & Mentee Reflect On the First 12 Months in Business

Guest Blogger | January 13, 2016

Written By: Glenn Nishimura, Chief People Strategist at Nishimura Consulting & Futurpreneur Mentor

When I first tell people that a woman I mentor owns a 24-hour daycare centre, the response is always the same: “A what?”, followed by a couple seconds of silence, and then a resounding: “Oh, that’s such a great idea!”

A lot of parents in the Barrie-South Simcoe area of Ontario think it’s a great idea too. In just over a year, Little Start Childcare—only the second 24-hour childcare facility in Canada—has grown to 26 employees, 703 families enrolled, and has ambitious plans to grow even more. With 30% of Canada’s workforce working rotating or irregular shifts—her clients include first responders, CN Rail, Honda and the Canadian Military—it’s a much needed service with plenty of room for growth.

I sat down with Cheryl Peyton, the centre’s founder and owner, to reflect and talk about her first 12 months as a young entrepreneur and business owner.

What’s been your happiest moment?

It has to be accomplishing something I never dreamed could be a possibility. When the sign first went up on the building I was in complete awe. Establishing my own identity as a business woman is a big part of that too, but it still hasn’t completely sunk in yet. Having parents thank me on a weekly basis for providing them with such a valuable service is incredibly rewarding. I even had one parent tell me they were expecting their second child, and said if it wasn’t for our centre they would never had even considered having more children! Knowing that this family needs us that much makes me extremely happy.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

Trying to balance being a friend and a boss, one who listens, has compassion and is there for her staff, is definitely one of my challenges. But the biggest is trying to balance family and work. Sometimes I feel as though I’m missing out on the time I spend with my children, however I know that soon I’ll be able to spend more of my time off with them.

What’s been your biggest surprise?

The cost! When you’re planning your business and doing two year expense projections, it’s never going to be 100% accurate. I’ve learned a lot and missed a lot. But the biggest surprise was the overwhelming response to the centre. I knew in my heart that it could be a great service, but to grow to the numbers that we have now has exceeded my expectations.

What was the hardest lesson you’ve learned in your first year of business?

That I can’t be everything and do everything all at once! I’m human and make mistakes, but you learn from them and hope that you don’t make the same ones again. I have also learned where my loyalties lie, and that there are only 24 hours in a day. How I wish there were more to get things accomplished.

Any advice to other young entrepreneurs in their first year of business?

Not to give up! It is hard work and hours and hours and hours of long days, but know that it will get better. Strive for the next step, and aim higher with every goal. Sometimes I would feel like I’ve faltered —like I took 10 steps backs after taking 5 steps forward—but then something amazing would happen and I would realize I just stumbled a bit, and get right back on the path again.

Finally, listen to your employees—they have concerns and need to know they are being heard.

One of my biggest struggles has been with employees. You’ve taught me a lot about team dynamics, and how important it is to have the right people with the right stuff to create the right atmosphere. It literally can take only one employee to make your world unbearable.

About Cheryl:
Cheryl Peyton is a Futurpreneur mentee, and the founder and owner of Little Start Childcare Inc., a 24-hour childcare facility located in Barrie, Ontario. You can reach her at 705-728-7807 or cpeyton@littlestart.ca

About Glenn:
Glenn Nishimura is the Chief People Strategist at Nishimura Consulting, and a Futurpreneur mentor. He helps entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses across North America and Europe to build strong company cultures and smart people practices. Connect with him at 416.566.6892, glenn@nishimuraconsulting.ca, or on Twitter @NishiHR