IN the run-up to Scottish Franchise Week 2017, a Stirling man has shared how his successful venture began.
Derek Lambie, aged 40, used to be the editor of a national Sunday newspaper, but gave it all up to start a business with his wife, Wendy, which gives him a much better work/life balance.
They now run a thriving business teaching babies to swim, operating out of an office in the shadow of Stirling Castle and the Ochil Hills, and employ a team of 12.
He explains: "We started our business in 2011, firstly my started wife began solo then I joined her in 2012.
"Previously I had spent 15 years as a journalist, starting out as a freelancer for the Scottish national newspapers, I then became the Editor of the Scottish Sunday Express in 2002 and held that position until I left in May 2012.
"My wife, Wendy, and I were introduced to Water Babies when our daughter Jorja was born.
"We loved the lessons so much that when an opportunity to get involved by running a franchise ourselves we had to give it a go.
"One of the things that attracted us to operating a franchise most was the flexibility that it allowed.
"We could manage a business and work the hours around what we needed as a family, and that was vital at the time of raising a young daughter.
"Every day is different and every day is challenging, but every day is very rewarding.
"While there is a burgeoning interest and demand for baby swimming lessons, our industry is facing a major challenge as a result of continual pool closures.
"Schools and leisure providers are starting to believe that it is cheaper to run a facility without a swimming pool in it, and are filling them in.
"There are so many positives from running a Water Babies franchise. For starters, how many people can pencil themselves in for having six or seven weeks holiday during the summer?
"We can, if we choose to. The flexibility to do this is one of the reasons we decided to embark upon a Water Babies journey in the first place, and we enjoy being able to spend time with the children over school holidays without worrying too much about childcare.
"Water Babies wouldn’t be Water Babies if we didn’t have a few surprises up our sleeves and over the course of the next couple of years we plan a number of major projects that will help drive forward our business.
"That aside, it’s really a case of continuing to do what we do and keep an eye on the constantly changing situation as far as pool availability is concerned."
Franchising is an ever-growing industry in Scotland, and the 2015 bfa Natwest Survey showed that the annual turnover of the sector had increased by 14 per cent to £800m, driven by over 2,200 businesses employing more than 32,000 people.
Scottish Franchise Week is taking place in Glasgow from 25-26 April 2017.
Tuesday, April 25 will see a day of educational events across various locations in Glasgow.
Wednesday, April 26 will see the Business Breakfast take place at the Radisson Blu, with Josh Littlejohn, the co-founder of Social Bite, as the keynote speaker.
After the Business Breakfast, the British Franchise Association will be hosting a Scottish Forum to discuss the latest topics in franchising.
To find out more about what Scottish Franchise Week can offer you visit www.thebfa.org/SFW