Meet Sarah Carman who is passionate about education.Creative Folk, Entrepreneurs | May 7, 2018
It all started with a goal to chat to entrepreneurs over 60. Then out of curiosity we decided to talk to entrepreneurs under 30. We believe these two very vast generations can learn and grow from each other.
This week we head to Sydney Australia and chat with Sarah Carman who is the director of Sponge Education .
Can you tell us a little about your business and what you do?
My name is Sarah Carman and I’m passionate about education. Three years ago I started up a tutoring business called Sponge Education.
Sponge Education is a tailored, one-on- one tutoring service and support initiative for students in NSW.
We offer academic support in English, Mathematics, Sciences and Humanities for primary and high school students. All of our tutors are approachable, caring, and they encourage students to seek balance in their lives. At Sponge, we aim to help students do really well academically, but we also help and encourage them to maintain a healthy mix of interests and passions. Sponge tuition (face-to-face sessions taking place at student’s homes) is complemented by the online outlets we have set up to help students manage the pressures of school.
What motivated you to start your own business?
Two reasons. Firstly, I saw a definite need for this style of support for students. Educational outcomes are so heavily reliant on the relationships students build with teachers and mentors, so I really wanted to enable those experiences for youth. In addition, I was also becoming frustrated in a corporate environment. I felt the pace was slow and that I was capped in what I could do.
What were some of the struggles you faced when you first started?
The world of small business is inherently stressful. Starting one up can involve long and very lonely workdays. I didn’t treat it like a job, because I was so invested in making it work. It became a huge part of my life, and I found it stressful to separate myself from the business.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learnt in life?
I have learned that it is so important to treat a business as a separate entity, and not an extension of yourself. I haven’t always approached the running of Sponge with this view, and it definitely cost me some health and happiness early on.
I have also learned that when people feel supported and valued, they enjoy their work more and stick around for the long term. Every Sponge tutor knows that they are part of something bigger, and that there is a higher cause we are working for. We appreciate and value their contributions enormously.
What do you like most about having your own business?
I like being able to do things. I don’t have to seek approval or wait for the okay from someone else. If something needs to be done, we just get on and do it. It’s great.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Relax and take your time. Its not a race. Also you don’t even fully know who you are and what you’re about yet, so don’t expect any life decisions to be permanent ones.
Who is an older person that you admire and why?
I admire Mark Knopfler. He is highly successful, but chooses to stay out of the limelight. He just gets on with what he wants to do without seeking validation from others. I think that is a very noble way of conducting yourself, and its frankly refreshing in this day and age. Many people seem to think that if it didn’t get posted on social media it mustn’t have happened. I think there is something to be said for getting on with doing good work behind the scenes, and being satisfied with your contribution for its inherent value to others. Not what it looks like on Facebook.
If you could jump into a time machine what era would you visit and why?
I’d visit the 1950s post-war era. My English family went through a lot and I would love to go back and ask questions.
Anything else you would like to add?
To anyone who is thinking of starting up a business, do it! Just do your research first and be sure that you’re in it for the right reasons. You’ve got to want to make a difference in a long-term capacity.