An interview with Brad Haber and Salma Taher, owners of Mathnasium of Palatine.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Mathnasium of PalatineAddress: 141 W. Northwest Hwy. Palatine 60067
Owners: Brad Haber and Salma Taher
Year business started: 2014
Web address: firstname.lastname@example.org
A: Mathnasium Learning Centers, a math-only learning center franchise, specializes in teaching kids math in a way that makes sense to them. Students go to Mathnasium year-round to catch up, keep up, and get ahead in math. The proprietary Mathnasium Method is the result of 40+ years of hands-on instruction and research. We give each student customized learning plans based on a comprehensive assessment, and kids experience individualized instruction in a group setting. Franchising since 2003, Mathnasium has become one of the fastest growing educational franchises, with a new center opening each week. There are more than 470 Mathnasium franchises in the U.S. and abroad.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: We found that math is a challenge across all ages and groups of kids. Experiencing math related difficulties with our own child and seeing friends' kids struggle to find the right tutoring for math made us want to get into this space. I have been helping students ever since I was in school. My husband Brad Haber would teach math for hours to kids who needed math help and he realized he loved the feeling when kids finally saw the light. Mathnasium's common-sense approach, the center's fun ambience and cool teaching techniques convinced us that this was the right choice that aligned with our vision.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: Getting started came with unforeseen hurdles, which have made us wiser literally overnight. The biggest challenges came in building out the space, and trying to open on time, which actually didn't happen. We were scheduled to open in April before schools got out but finally did so June 2.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: We love that this is a life-changing business. Parents and kids who come in are really coming to address certain needs-whether it is enrichment, remediation or maintaining good grades. We see this as an opportunity to always provide extended learning, help kids build their confidence and boost their grades. Nothing is more pleasurable than seeing kids change their attitudes and walk out with more self-esteem.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?
A: Growing up I pictured myself making an impact in the world, not sure just how ... and my husband wanted to fly. While we always wanted to own our own business, we did not picture actually getting into the educational space. Even as a child, I was always involved in teaching and helping people succeed. To turn this passion into a business was actually the fulfillment of a long cherished dream we never really thought would happen. I see it as a fulfilling way to spend my time. My husband, Brad, sees this as something he was born to do-helping kids succeed.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: At present, we are too exhausted to keep awake. Starting a business is always a tiring, nervous and simultaneously exciting experience. Finding the right marketing niche, what works and what doesn't is a challenge. We know that once people experience our center, we have a good conversion rate but getting the word out is something we are working on.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Expect the unexpected, both in good ways and bad. Most importantly, keep your focus on delivering the best service or product-this will translate into referrals which are really the best marketing tool you'll ever need.
• Every Monday we feature a small business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at email@example.com.