It Was All A Dream...
The year was 2009 and my first business partner, Nghia, and I decided to run a summer camp with teachers from California to test out the market here in China. It turned out to be a huge success and we decided to open a preschool learning centre the following year.
Shortly after opening Busy Bee Education in September 2010, Nghia had to go back to the U.S. for personal reasons and couldn't continue the long distance arrangement which I understood. It was difficult at the time as we just opened but I still wanted to give it a shot. I did the research and I knew we had a great program, we just needed some time to get the word out. I was confident we could sign up students and our classes would be full in no time.
I was wrong, way wrong, to think parents would just trust in this new brand and program and so I had to start over and head back to the drawing board. I had to downsize and use 1 classroom instead of 2. I couldn't afford to keep our teaching team since we had ZERO students, so they all went back to the U.S. after a couple of months and so I was working 3 jobs just to try and keep this centre alive, paying rent and also teaching to save money for the business.
Fast forward 3 years later...
So dressing up as a bee handing out flyers and going door to door worked to get some students to sign up for the preschool program. I was thrilled to have our first student join. Then came another and then came another. Word got out and we started to get more and more students. It was the first time I felt, hey, this could actually work and I also wanted to raise some money to help grow Busy Bee but some people I spoke to at the time always asked if I had a proper "License". At that time there wasn't a license for daycare and so I had a business license but that didn't sell it for the potential investors.
My second partner comes on board...
It was 2013 and this was when I met Ivy. She signed up her daughter Bella when she was 2 years and 2 months and she was a CRIER. She would cry until she fell asleep, she would cry until she had a fever, she would cry until she vomited, but she continued to come to Busy Bee. Over some time Ivy saw huge improvement in Bella and was also very interested in early childhood education. We had several meetings, saw eye to eye on many things, and she believed in what I was trying to do. Make a positive difference here through early childhood education. So now, I have a partner again! Woo Hoo!
Now many years have passed and we have been growing as a team and kept up with our vision from the beginning, to provide a quality all day english preschool program at prices most families can afford. This year was a big turning point as we opened 3 new centres and 1 franchise centre at the same time. It was a logistical nightmare at times but we managed to pull through. By the end of the 2016-2017 school year we had some awesome graduation photos from all of our centres. We could not have completed such a great year without the loving support of our parents and team. It really was a group effort and all for the education of the students. That was a year to remember.
The Road Has Been Bumpy...
Over the years we also have faced many difficulties. We have had to move centres and close centres due to various reasons. Not all reasons were about the license issue because there wasn't a proper license during this time. Even though we had to close and had to move, I still strongly believed in what BBE was doing and our vision from the start. The belief and support from our team and families really helped us during the difficult times and I will always remember and be grateful to those that helped us along the way. Its never easy starting over, but I always remember when one door closes another opens. Thank you to those that continued to support us even through the difficult times.
We started with 3 teachers and then back to 0 teachers. Then I was teaching for some time and now, many years later, we have a team of 30+ and counting. It has been such an amazing experience to know, work with, and have fun with all the teachers past and present. I thank all teachers past and present for your work and service to making a difference through our program. Your time and effort mean the world to me and BBE not to mention all of the hundreds of students and families that have gone through our program. I do thank you all from the bottom of my heart and I am so excited to see what the future holds for the Bee FAMILY!
Growth, Expansion, and New Partnerships!
Since 2016, we have two wonderful franchise partners, one program licensee in Xiamen, a joint venture centre partner and a new Busy Bee Education Partner, Lily. I'm so grateful to have these people join me in making a difference. Your support and belief in me will forever be ingrained in my memory and what I've been building over the last 9 years. Thank you Lion and Selina, Leah and Jerry, Saki and Lori, Karen, Lily, and Ivy.
Fast forward to 2018. This was the year that the education bureau announced a new license for daycares. I was super excited as this was one of the things we needed to really build up BBE and grow even bigger than what we were. Of course I heard from many people that its impossible for you and that you will NEVER get a license. The license requirements were quite extensive and we knew it wouldn't be an easy task. However, through perseverance and sheer will, Ivy, Lily, and myself made a decision that will forever be remembered in Busy Bee history, the decision to pursue the impossible. We poured everything we had into applying for this new license for the future of BBE and the Bee Family and one of the things we got out of it was a flagship centre. Since there is a size requirement on the license, we would call this new centre our flagship as it is our biggest centre to date. This decision really challenged us mentally and physically and we hit many road blocks along the way. We almost wanted to quit half way through. I think what made us continue was the fact that we already made it this far, why not try.
9 months later...
We did the impossible...no words can describe the feeling, we are just happy that our efforts wasn't wasted and that we have a renewed sense of purpose and drive.
WE GOT OUR DAYCARE LICENSE!
This journey I started many years ago has given me much meaning and purpose to my life. It has given me much joy in knowing I am making a difference in someone's life. I am helping someone become a better version of themselves and that's something I can truly look back and be proud of.
I dedicate this milestone to my dad. I wish you were here to see this, but I know you can see this.
I hope one day Busy Bee Education will be recognized as a world class brand, not only providing quality affordable education but for bringing families closer together and raising healthy, respectable, and compassionate individuals.
Principal "Jojo" Joseph Lee
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