This time last year I was only a couple of days away from launching my company, Virtually Fluent, online. It has been a rather interesting year and I want to share with you some of the ups and downs of running my own online business during its first year.
It’s true that most of the year has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic but being under lockdown for the most part of the year has provided me with the perfect opportunity to work 24/7 on providing a high-quality online learning platform for EFL students.
Running your own company is hard and requires serious determination and elbow grease. I used to read lots of articles about entrepreneurs who have made it big time and they make it look so easy. Well, it’s definitely far from! I’ve worked 17 hour days, given up most of my weekends and free time activities and haven’t had a break since I launched the company … but (call me crazy) I wouldn’t change a single thing.
For those of you who visited my website back on 23rd April 2020 and compare it to the current version, you’ll notice a lot has changed. I’ve expanded the free materials and resources pages, I’ve created an entire syllabus of courses starting from beginner level (still building as I go) and I’ve created thousands of new worksheets, games and online activities for specific grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation topics.
In January 2021, I expanded to online group classes through Virtually Fluent Academy and I’ve absolutely loved every second of it. The dynamics for teaching in a group environment are great and it’s such a wonderful feeling to see students progress through the levels of English in these courses.
Let’s take a look at a few ups and downs on my year-long journey.
- The multiculturalism: After launching the company last year, I got a lot of feedback from people interested in improving their English. I have met people from all around the world with different backgrounds, different native languages and different English levels and it’s been a pleasure to be completely immersed into a multicultural environment.
- Connecting people: I currently work with students in around 30 different countries and in my group classes at my online academy, students have become true friends. They’re meeting up if they’re in the same city or message each other outside classes. It’s great to see people from the other side of the world becoming friends and using English as a common language.
- Learning new skills: As the only employee at my company I’m responsible for absolutely everything. Of course, I prepare and teach my English classes but I also take care of anything and everything else. I have designed the website, I do the finances and update the accounts, I complete all administrative tasks, I ensure I’m complying with the numerous laws and regulations. As a result, I’ve learnt new skills that I never thought I would ever need in my life!
- Social media giants: In October of 2021, my Instagram account was doing very well. I had around 3,000 followers and was getting a lot of interest in my vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar posts. Out of the blue, Instagram took my account down and I’ve been fighting ever since to get it back! Sadly, this was to no avail and I’ve had to start right back at the beginning again.
- People expect you to work for free: I never realised the burden of being in the EFL industry until I launched my company. Around 80% of the messages I receive ask for private classes, English materials and group classes FOR FREE. I’ve tried to offer as much as possible for free but still need to make a living! How do other companies do it?
- Marketing: One of the most difficult things I’ve found is marketing. What is the balance between bombarding your customers with products and being completely invisible. I’m still working on it!
I’ve absolutely loved the last year and look forward to continuing my journey as an online business owner for, what is hopefully, many years to come!
What Have We Achieved?
Our social media pages have grown
We launched Virtually Fluent Academy
Around 70 students enrolled this semester!
Lots of private classes
Around 20 students in private classes!