Things falling into place for educator

Each Monday, a local small business gets advice from a local business consultant. Today, we look back at two businesses to see if the advice is paying off.

The update
It's early on a Tuesday morning and Cathy Sirk is a bit breathless but looking energized, and with reason.
Since last June, her business has grown rapidly.
The class roster for her foreign language instruction business, Foreign Fluency, climbed from about 25 to 110 students, and in January Sirk had to hire two teachers to help balance her workload. This week she'll introduce a new French course with the help of yet another instructor.
"The biggest thing that came out (of the makeover) was that I got into the home-school market," she said.
Appealing to the parents and decision-makers in that market had eluded Sirk, despite her best efforts to advertise to them. Among her current list of 110 students, she can count a group of 24 home-schooled children.
Her success thus far has not only boosted the number of referrals she receives, but has also earned her more credibility with parents and teachers.
"People would call me and say, 'I want you to come to my daughter's school,' " Sirk said.
These requests were music to her ears.
One of her earlier goals had been to gain entry to elementary schools. At the time, however, Sirk lacked the contacts that could give her easier access to administrators and others in charge.
Encouraged by the parents' requests, Sirk placed some calls to the Marana school district. Her efforts paid off and she managed to get donated class space from teachers at three Marana elementary schools including Ironwood and Quail Run. Classes are held after school so she doesn't intrude on teachers' schedules.
She was quickly establishing herself in the Northwest area, and Foreign Fluency was expanding at a steady pace.
Then parents from other districts such as Vail and Amphi began calling.
But where things had progressed relatively smoothly with the Marana district, Sirk has often not been able to move beyond the principal's desk in the new districts.
She attributes her difficulty breaking into these markets to the same problem she had earlier when she didn't have an inside contact at the schools. But she hasn't given up.
"I model my program after Mad Science," Sirk said, referring to the national franchise that hosts science workshops and after-school programs in many of the same schools she's trying to work with.
"I'm not sure why I'm any different in their eyes," she added.
Though she adopted many of the recommendations for marketing and general business principles suggested by business coach Dale Bruder, Sirk decided not to approach larger institutions such as Pima Community College. "If I went to Pima, then I'd be working for Pima. And it would be teaching adults," Sirk reasoned.
She summarized her past year with a huge sigh and a smile.
Sure there are a few kinks here and there, and additional teachers to hire down the road, but for now, "It seems like everything is falling into place," she said.