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The Learning People: our story

Our director, Patrick Aylmer, talks about business start up and taking a chance.

“Before starting up the Learning People three years ago I was working for Seek Learning Ltd. as the Sales Director in Australia, then they sent me over here to the UK to work, and I loved it here!

“They say that ‘our lessons come from the journey, not the destination’ – Don Williams – and I couldn’t agree more. 

Confidence

“Through my work with Seek I learnt that there was a real market in the UK for learning courses, and although Seek ultimately didn’t work out, I got a full understanding of the market, and was able to objectively assess and acknowledge Seek’s mistakes – this enabled me to be confident enough to branch out on my own with my own business, the Learning People.

“The idea came from my very first business called SelfCert. 

“This sold vocational professional online training, which Seek acquired, and which I then moved on into with the Learning People.

“One thing I’ve learnt over the past few years is the value in networking – through my work with Seek in the UK I met my current business partner Chris. 

“We hit it off straight away and realised we had the same values, which created a strong partnership because we were coming from the same place, and both our personalities are different enough that they compliment each other.

Conviction

“In terms of setting the business up, it was as simple as sitting down together and writing up a business plan, which included a realistic schedule for the next year of our lives, a manageable budget that allowed room for mistakes and changes, an immediate and a long-term action plan, and the main company goals for us to always bear in mind and come back to when things got stressful or complicated. 

“Largely I feel the main asset here that we both possessed was that we both had the confidence in our own abilities to just go for it and stick to plan as rigidly as we could along the path.

“That way, when we felt a little lost and snowed under by difficult elements of the project, we were always able to see where we should be and what the bigger picture was going to be. 

“In terms of setting the budget, based on my previous experience I knew how much we needed to set aside for each element of the project, so we made our plans accordingly, factoring any risks etc.

“Chris offered a brilliant level head when it came to looking at numbers, and really helped – and still does help – the company to reign in expenditure when it’s unnecessary.

“Time was an obstacle for us, given that I was working remotely in Australia when the business was first set up.

Overcoming challenges

“Because of this I relied heavily on Skype and communicated regularly with my excellent team in the UK; I came to the office two or three times a year as well. 

“Eventually I was able to move to England about a year ago, and since then I’m in the office everyday, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere that we advocate here, and surrounded by colleagues I also deem as friends, which I feel very privileged to be able to say. 

“Finding the right team when first starting up the Learning People was actually reasonably easy for us, because Chris and I had already worked with several of my current employees at Seek, such as Kat who is now our StudentCare™ manager and Nick who is also in the StudentCare team.

“I knew from having worked with them before that they all worked passionately to an excellent standard, so found it the most natural step forward in inviting them to support myself and Chris when embarking with the Learning People.

“I am proud to say that all these people still work at the company, and have been able to move forward in their careers throughout the growth of the Learning People.

Advice

“The three main bits of advice I would offer anyone looking to set up their own business are:

  1. Be willing to take a risk
  2. Believe in yourself
  3. Get the right people around you

“When asked if, when looking back, I would have done anything differently, in all honesty I’d probably say no. 

“This is because I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from things that may not necessarily have been as successful as I’d hoped, which has been invaluable. 

“It’s all about planning, and seeing the rewards or lessons from this.

“The most rewarding aspect of having set up the Learning People is seeing so many happy and engaged people working in the business. 

“We really do prioritise in investing in the professional and personal development of our employees, so seeing the opportunities we’re creating here for our staff’s future career development is fantastic.

“When I look to the future, I see the Learning People having a global footprint, selling professional online training courses across all industries. 

“With the rate the business has been growing, I have high hopes that this isn’t too far off.”

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