When the pandemic saw international borders close, international students were some of the most dramatically affected.
Thus, owning a business working with international students was a most challenging time.
Danielle Pringle is an individual business owner, currently the director of Student Concierge Services and Pringle Property Partners. Her top two passions in life had always been education and property, and she found a way to put them together and make it her daily life.
Danielle does a variety of things involved with education, especially in the secondary education sector. Talking about what she does, she says, “In education, we really are a service provider, [including] consulting, that is, finding the right school for the child, logistics, and marketing. So, we’re really supporting the schools, the students, and the families.” She goes on to add, “this can apply to international families and expat families, as well as local families here in Australia.”
In addition to this, Student Concierge Services also assist schools with marketing. She states, “we have worked with a lot of schools in the South-East Asia region and generally offshore, and we ran roadshows and really kept them in touch with the educational agencies offshore.”
Struggles of Working Individually
While Danielle operates individually, her work involves a lot of interaction with other people. When asked about her struggles, the first thing she states is how difficult she sometimes finds it to be taken seriously by other people. She says, “You’ve just got to continue to believe in yourself and what you’re doing. Keep that passion alive.”
She goes on to say, “I’m a bit of a big picture operator, and so, I find at times that some people just don’t see the same vision as I do.” Added to this is the challenge of having support for your business plans and ideas. As Danielle says, “…just having that person to reach out to support you, guide you, give you negative and positive feedback which is great. And also, meeting like-minded people who have a similar vision but have similar struggles as well.”
While some struggles are always a part of being a small business owner, especially when working alone, other hurdles are circumstantial. One such obstacle thrown towards most small business owners has been the current pandemic situation. For Danielle and her line of business, Student Concierge Services was quite badly hit. Danielle says, “An area that our business has found challenging in the last 18 months because of Covid, and the closing of the borders [put a] restrain on placing international students into school. A lot of international students having to move back home and continue [their] education online. So, we really haven’t had that attraction in the secondary level for schooling on that basis.”
Danielle found The Alternative Board (TAB) and became a member, nearly one year ago. She was approached by Andrew Lawrence – Owner of The Alternative Board Gordon on LinkedIn after which they met for coffee and Danielle found that they really connected. She says, “I really valued his input and the way he sort of delivered the product, and we got on well. […] I was in a position of, as a small business owner, making some sort of qualitative decisions so I really, I thought [our meeting] was timely.”
After this, Danielle also feels like she has received a lot of help and support from TAB, especially in terms of the Covid situation and how much her business was affected by it. She says, “getting that support over situations that have risen – that are really out of your control – that you might need some support and guidance to get you through, that’s probably been really a great value added for me.” Plus, she loved that people are simply willing to listen. As she puts it, “having people that are willing to just sit down and listen, provide you an impartial view, or provide you the support when you really need it [has helped a lot].”
Danielle’s Future Plans
Although the current pandemic has not been the best for Danielle and her business, she has figured out many other things to keep herself going. It has given her company the chance to branch out in areas they might not have been focused on before. Student Concierge Services is currently working with the Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA) to create a platform where they will assist schools in accommodating a variety of industries within those boarding institutions in term breaks. Explaining how it works, Danielle says, “So, it could be a sporting group wanting to run a camp, it could be a professional sports team that wants to travel and host their training programme at a school and using their facilities. We’re in the process of finalising that and pilot testing that platform which is very exciting.”
Alongside that, they have been given the opportunity to host a podcast which was expected to start by the end of October. Danielle says, “It’s been a thought process for a long time, [and] it’s finally coming together. It’s going to be all things education, [as] an information platform for families, for educators, professionals, government bodies, students, etc.”
Despite the difficult times, Danielle has found ways to keep herself not only busy but also extremely positive. She says, “although I’m an individual business owner, I am very motivated by people so, and that’s what I love about what I do.” She also loves the connections she builds with students she meets. And this has not changed even now. She is very excited for all the things coming her way and says with a smile, “great things can come from tough times.”
Being a part of TAB
According to Danielle, the thing she likes the most about TAB is the way it is structured. She says: “I like the fact that we have allocated time with Andrew and that we know ahead of time that we have our monthly board meetings, [which is] a round table opportunity to share challenges and wins, how you’re sitting from one to ten, personally and professionally, and it’s all in a very well structured, and controlled yet relaxed environment. And that really appeals to me.”
She goes on to talk about everyone else involved within the board. “People do really care but they also really think about the importance of what we talk about and it’s all very confidential. [It’s] just a really good business synergy. I always leave a meeting thinking I am really grateful to be a part of something like TAB.”
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