Starting Your Own Business – An interview with Sarah Morgan of Eco-explore education

Sarah Morgan studied ecology at Cardiff University, now she is a free-lance science communicator running her own business; Eco-explore education. Her business provides science workshops to schools, community groups and for events, specialising in making science accessible for children with additional needs. I spoke to her about her experiences and what it’s like to be your own boss. 

What made you decide to start your own business?

I noticed a disparity between the amount and quality of science outreach work being directed at children with additional needs and for children coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. I went to my then dissertation supervisor and talked to him about what I had noticed and my ideas to fix it. Luckily, he was really supportive and had his own business so was a great source of advice and support.

Do you need a lot of money to start a business?

It really depends on your idea but for me, no. I had very few start-up costs so all I really needed was enough money to live on. You can easily work part time and work on a business idea, then as your business becomes more lucrative, you can give up the part time work. I think what’s more important is a really strong support network. No-one is an island and if you’re starting out near to clueless (like I was!), then you need some people you can learn from and who can help you.  You also need people who will push you and kick your arse a little bit, people who will keep you grounded when you’re on a high and pull you up when you’re on a low.

What are you most proud of achieving so far?

Eco-explore Education has recently received just shy of £100,000 of funding from the national lottery, which is amazing. This money will allow us to provide science outreach sessions to schools in Blaenau Gwent for free, for the next 5 years. This is huge for me as Blaenau Gwent is my home county and the most deprived county in Wales and has some of the highest rates for child poverty in the UK. To be able to give something to these children that could help them on their way to a brighter future is exactly what I wanted.

What challenges have you faced?

I think the biggest challenge is staying motivated and not letting procrastination get the better of you. I’ve struggled. A lot. It’s honestly been my biggest hurdle.

How do you stay motivated?

if you can sit down with some people who share your vision and support you it’s sometimes all you need to feel re-energised and re-focused. We all hit walls sometimes and we fail. I’ve failed a lot, I’ve had more rejections than I can count but my recent successes have come from those failures. I think the important thing is not to beat yourself up when you fail but start fresh, take baby steps and slowly you’ll build yourself back up again, stronger than before because you’ve learned from your mistakes.

What are your plans for the future? For yourself and your business?

Alongside of my business I’m also spending one day a week working on a part-time MPhil studying bird parasites. I hope to get my PhD eventually. I’m also involved in some really exciting projects at the moment that I would like to develop in the future, one of which is involving the community in an area of Blaenau Gwent with in the conservation and research in an area of local woodland.
Overall, my goal is to work on the business model of Eco-explore education, create more opportunities for revenue creation and hopefully create a self-sustaining project. Now that I have some funding for the next 5 years I have the freedom and the space to develop that model. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?

I would say there’s no rush. Don’t worry about doing everything as quickly as possible take your time and enjoy yourself, as much as an emotional rollercoaster building your own business can be, the planning stage is supposed to be the best part. You have an opportunity to make your passion and your ideas a reality, so try to enjoy it.

If you would like to find out more about Eco-explore education and support Sarah’s great work, visit her blog at www.eco-exploreeducation.blogspot.co.uk, follow her on Facebook (@Ecoexploreeducation), Instagram (@ecoexploreeducation) and Twitter (@EcoExploreEdu). Sarah has also created free educational resources on a range of science topics that can be found here www.padlet.com/spmorgan92/bh3dwayxfqqa

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