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Lorna Allen

Director Live and Learn Homestays Ltd,
Lorna Allen.

People often ask me how, why and when I started my business, Live and Learn Homestays Ltd.

The simple answer is – I love people and I love learning!

I’ve had a long and successful career working with children and families and during that time, I also worked part time as a homestay tutor and local organiser for a large, international language homestay company.

I really enjoyed meeting new people from many different cultures; when I first became a host tutor, my 2 children were aged 7 and 11 years old and they were lucky enough to be able to share their home with Japanese, French, German and Spanish students.

I really enjoyed teaching English and I especially enjoyed organising trips for groups of students (though at times this could be stressful).

Inspiration

It was during a visit from a group of Japanese university students that I first thought about starting my own language homestay business. It was actually the Japanese group leader, Mr. Sai, who suggested that I should start my own business. He was so pleased with the service that I had provided to the group that he offered to send me groups of Japanese students every year.

I gave the idea some thought but didn’t take it any further as I had a secure full time job and was afraid of taking a risk on starting a new business.

I continued in my role as local organiser and, in 2006, several other people suggested that I should start my own English language homestay business as they could see that I enjoyed the work so much and was successful at organising student homestays. I started to seriously consider the idea and I was motivated by the faith that other people had in me.

I began by using the experience that I had gained as a homestay tutor and local organiser; I was very fortunate to be able to talk face to face with students and find out what they liked and disliked about their homestays. I found it interesting that many of the students felt that the large homestay company that I worked for had little interest in them as individuals. They felt that their main focus was making a profit and little thought was given to providing them with a personal service.

Amongst other things, they disliked the lack of information given to them about their homestay tutor, the lack of photos of the tutor and their home and the inability to talk to a senior member of the homestay organisation when problems arose. I used this valuable information to form the basis of the personalised service that I would offer to my homestay learners.

A colleague at work suggested that I contact a business support agency with my idea and they put me in touch with an organisation called "3b" (Black Business in Birmingham). Through 3b, I was given the opportunity to present my business idea to a panel from the ‘Enterprise City Programme’.

Although it was a nerve-wracking experience, I was successful and, over the next 6 months, I attended a number of business seminars and was assigned a business mentor to help me develop my business plan.

Live and Learn Homestay Ltd becomes a reality

In 2007, I gave up my full time job as a Deputy Children’s Centre Manager and resigned as a local organiser before launching my company – Live and Learn Homestays Ltd; it was a frightening and exciting experience!

So far, it’s been a very challenging (and mostly enjoyable) experience. I’ve made a few mistakes along the way; my biggest one was expecting langzuage travel agents to send lots and lots of students to me straight away!

I soon realised that I had to build a reputation first before they could trust me enough to send students.

I am a small, relatively unknown language homestay company in an arena with many large, international organisations. My clients choose me because I’m small enough to be able address their individual needs; they’re not just clients to me, I care about their whole homestay experience – i.e. their safety, comfort, learning needs etc.

I judge my success, not only by the progress that students make in their English language skills, but also by the number of students who choose to come back for another homestay in the beautiful Heart of England.

I take my inspiration from Richard Branson – he started off as a ‘small guy’ taking on the larger corporations and successfully competing by offering exceptional service; this is how I see Live and Learn Homestays.

I began this story by telling you that I love people and I love learning.

So what have I’ve learned over the past 4 years?

  • In life and business, you need the support of your family and friends - I would not have achieved so much without the love and support of my family and friends;
  • Perseverance and faith is everything (especially in times of struggle) - business success does not happen over night; it takes self-belief, time and patience;
  • A business should be built on integrity and honesty - I treat all learners fairly and offer value for money;
  • Sharing knowledge and skills (with students and other business owners) is a very satisfying experience - you cannot 'own' knowledge, it's meant to be shared freely!

Thank you for taking the time to read 'My Story', I look forward to welcoming you to the Heart of England soon!

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New Teachers, New Areas

Newsflash!

We now have new teachers in the following areas:

Hereford

Kendal (Lake District)

Sussex

Brighton

Surrey 

We're really excited to be able to offer you even more choice of locations for your full immersion English course.

We're adding their profiles to the 'Meet a Host' page so check them out now!

Mumpreneur 2011 Award

BIRMINGHAM BASED "MUMPRENEUR" REACHES FINALS OF NATIONAL BUSINESS AWARDS

Local mum and entrepreneur, Lorna Allen, has earned herself a place in the final lineup of The Mumpreneur Awards, an annual ceremony aimed at celebrating parents throughout the UK who manage the difficult task of juggling business with family life.

The mother of 2 runs Live and Learn Homestays Ltd., an organisation offering personalised English courses and leisure activities to people visiting the Midlands region from abroad. Lorna's customers (homestay guests) benefit from a full immersion experience where they are placed with host families and have the unique opportunity to improve their English skills and learn about British culture through sharing their host families' lives.

Lorna Allen, Director of Live and Learn Homestays tells NetworkMilan.com how you can improve your English and feel at home in the “Heart of England”

Live and Learn Homestays Ltd is a small English language homestay company based in Birmingham, the "Heart of England", in the UK. The company is owned and managed by Lorna Allen, a local entrepreneur who worked part-time as a homestay tutor and local organiser for a large, international language homestay company for over seven years.

Read full article here: www.networkmilan.com