Newry teacher Daniel gets up out of bed most mornings at around 7:00 am.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat and a strong coffee, he shoots upstairs again to get ready.
He has a shave, fixes his hair and puts on a nice shirt and tie.
Daniel oozes professionalism despite not needing to leave the house – no shirt and tie up top and pyjamas and slippers combo here.
Unlike most NI businesses, chances are Daniel’s audience won’t judge him too harshly if he did decide to wear more casual clothes.
That’s because Daniel’s online audience every day consists of a unique subset of society; primary school children.
It’s fair to say that most Northern Ireland parents can’t wait to send their kids back to school.
The thought of another couple of months of homeschooling raises stress levels like nothing else.
But Newry teacher Daniel Guiney is doing everything in his power to provide structure, routine, and most importantly, education to Northern Ireland children in the middle of the pandemic.
You could also argue that he’s providing parents with some much-needed respite too.
Daniel founded Education Support Hub in April 2019.
His business provides Primary School level tuition and focuses on English, Phonics, Mathematics, Dyslexia and Transfer Test support.
And making the transition from full-time school teacher to full-time business owner and teacher has been challenging.
But it’s one he’s taken on with a passion for helping others.
Before April 2019, Daniel says he had no business experience but adds, “I’m a quick learner.”
He explains, “Initially, I started my business part-time; I was working in schools full-time while providing my sessions in the evenings.
“Eventually, I got to the point where I had to focus solely on Education Support Hub.”
“As a fully qualified teacher, I didn’t have much of a business background,” he elaborates.
“However, I availed of advice from successful business owners and read as much as I could around the area.
“Before I was a teacher, I was an office manager at a letting agency.
“That certainly developed skills associated with running a business such as accounting and calendar management,” he adds.
Daniel is used to big audiences; he has frequently taught classes of more than thirty children throughout his educational career.
But he says his inspiration for starting Education Support Hub sprung from an escalating societal problem.
“I’m all too aware of the difficulty teachers have providing quality education time to individual pupils.
“Many of my friends and family members are teachers.
“And I know that they differentiate learning as much as possible with the time and resources they have.”
“Teachers affect eternity; no-one can tell where their influence stops.” – Henry Brook Adams.
Daniel believes children can benefit from a more targeted approach that suits their learning style in a small group environment.
And that’s where Education Support Hub is making its mark in Northern Ireland.
Explaining his business, Daniel says, “We help children behind their age-related expectations and provide classes that challenge children working at a higher ability.”
To run a small business is challenging in normal times.
But to grow your business during a global pandemic, Brexit, and an unstoppable move towards online is tricky.
However, Daniel says he’s an optimistic person by nature.
And instead of focusing on the depressing news about the pandemic every day, he prefers to be thankful for what he has.
“I look at this as an opportunity to spend a lot more time with my wife,” he smiles.
Of course, like most of us, Daniel says the pandemic has been most keenly felt in terms of not being able to see friends and family as often as he’d like.
And that’s not all he misses.
“Going to the gym, sitting for a coffee, going out for a nice meal, meeting groups of friends and being able to shake someone’s hand,” he reflects.
Professionally too, Daniel has had to swerve quickly since March 2020.
“I had to completely change my business model by moving all of my classes online,” he reveals.
“Initially, I was a bit apprehensive about the move, but I was amazed at how quickly the children and parents adapted.”
And opportunities to increase the visibility of his business have arrived as a result.
Approached by several local newspapers, Daniel now contributes weekly educational advice columns.
Those columns cover everything from tuition and homeschooling tips to his opinion on the pandemic and its impact on education.
Education Support Hub was growing before the pandemic arrived on the Emerald Isle.
But Daniel says he has experienced significant growth in the last six months.
As a result, he says he is now working 10-12 hour days.
“I try my best to put the hours in on the weekdays, leaving the weekends to switch off completely.”
He continues, “But as the famous saying goes, ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’.”
Pre-Covid-19, Daniel was restricted to who he could teach at his physical premises in Newry.
But by making the big move online, he’s now able to support children right across Northern Ireland.
“It has provided an opportunity to meet some amazing families that I otherwise would not have been able to,” he insists.
Nearly two years in with his business, Daniel admits he’s still trying to find the perfect balance between work and leisure.
“It can be hard to take time off,” he admits.
“Tuition doesn’t stop during school holidays, and there are lots of children that rely on my support.
“I try to limit days off to an absolute minimum.
“However, I do keep most weekends work free as it is essential to switch off and relax or face the risk of burning out,” he acknowledges.
But Daniel is proud of his successes during his first 730 days in business.
“The thing I have enjoyed the most is seeing my company’s growth from day one to today.”
Daniel continues, “Not only growing the business but continually receiving positive feedback from new and existing clients.
“Seeing the progress of my pupils firsthand and hearing about improved school reports make it all worthwhile,” he adds.
And for any readers thinking about starting their own business this year, Daniel has this advice.
“Don’t be afraid to avail of free advice from people with business experience.
“At the very beginning, I had a meeting with a consultant in the Go For It Programme who provided invaluable advice.
“Consulting an expert in marketing is a must.
“Focus on what you do best, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Tall Paul Marketing’s focus on content creation has made an essential contribution to my growth to date.
“Everything from the initial launch to market, publications, clients generated from Tall Paul’s online newspaper – Newry Times – and informal advice over the phone has been greatly appreciated.”
“Accept any offer of help or advice,” he continues.
“I’m very fortunate to have a wife who specialises in Digital Marketing.
“She offered to build my website and helps manage my social media accounts.
“Having help with the website and social media allows me to focus on creating and delivering tailored lessons, which take a considerable amount of time.”
And with his glass-half-full mentality, Daniel thinks the future for him and his business is promising.
“Hopefully, my business will enjoy continued growth over the next twelve months and help many more children and parents/guardians across Northern Ireland.”
To find out more about Daniel’s entrepreneurial journey or to book your son or daughter on to his online classes, click here.