How Ragdolly Annas danced its method out of lockdown


When Anna Varone-Johnson wakened on Tuesday, 17 March 2020, she felt depressing and demoralised. Stringent COVID-19 laws have been about to kick in. As a small enterprise proprietor, Anna wasn’t positive whether or not they’d have the ability to journey out the looming lockdown.

Anna is the proprietor of Ragdolly Annas, a music and rhyme group that provides classes for infants and youngsters as much as 5 years previous, in Milton Keynes and south Bedfordshire. They often entertain between 25 and 35 kids via day by day drop-in actions. 

“Earlier than the pandemic, we had an easy cash-based, pay-as-you-go mannequin. Our prospects didn’t need to e book upfront, and we managed our funds off a easy Excel spreadsheet. So, when the pandemic hit, we have been virtually instantly in deep waters,” explains Anna.

However Anna and her group weren’t going to let the tunes die down. We sat down with Anna to listen to her expertise. 

Adapting to the pandemic

Ragdolly Annas needed to refund all prospects who had paid upfront for dwell classes. Afterwards, Anna consulted with the group’s common prospects and determined to broadcast on-line classes. 

“The primary 30-minute video, regardless that freed from cost, was an surprising success, with households from Norway, Canada, Italy and across the UK tuning in,” Anna says. “Instantly, we had an entire new enterprise avenue!” 

She provides, “To our data, we have been the primary kids’s music group to supply the sort of fun music and rhyme sing-along classes. It was such a novelty on the time that we obtained nationwide recognition by being featured on BBC Information, in addition to in The Guardian and The Telegraph. Nonetheless, these have been nonetheless unsure occasions for us. We might solely plan week by week, whereas sourcing applicable venues for in-person attendance.”

When Ragdolly Annas lastly returned to some semblance of normality, COVID-19 laws required the group to handle bookings electronically to permit for track-and-trace and managing numbers per session. 

Anna elaborates: “We couldn’t let folks simply flip up, which was unlucky because the demand was at an all-time excessive. We additionally needed to rapidly discover a solution to handle our funds correctly as a result of sudden flood of weekly digital funds. 

Xero proved to be the proper answer with its simple, user-friendly interface and it was an important assist once we modified our enterprise mannequin. It built-in effortlessly with our bespoke reserving system and financial institution accounts with no added stress. We are able to now observe all our prospects, increase invoices, ship refunds, and at all times be within the loop when it comes to money stream.”

A method ahead

Ragdolly Annas has tripled in measurement because the pandemic. “We’ve gone from working 12 weekly classes to 36, and we have now employed 4 extra folks. It’s been a swift progress trajectory, and we’ve needed to develop with our audiences in addition to how to work to supply a secure atmosphere for our prospects.

We’ve prolonged our companies through Age UK and now work with the aged residing with dementia. We get requests for coaching workers members to current comparable classes, which opens up an entire new income stream for us.”

The group is assured that – ought to they ever need to quickly pivot once more, or head into one other lockdown – Xero’s information of the households which have paid upfront will make the refund course of far easier.

“Earlier than utilizing Xero, it was extraordinarily laborious and time-consuming to seek for prospects and manually refund them individually,” admits Anna.

“It was time we might ailing afford at a stage the place we needed to keep forward of our planning and market our enterprise to new audiences. The pandemic pressured us to streamline our processes, develop a plan for each eventuality, and rethink how we handle our funds.

“Fortunately, we now have a assured earnings via our reserving system and may simply decide a real account of revenue and loss to handle our money stream. This provides us the arrogance to plan new issues, resembling hiring workplace, storage and studio area.”

Recommendation for small enterprise homeowners

In line with Anna, a top piece of recommendation for all small enterprise homeowners is to by no means be afraid to strive, particularly if in case you have the buy-in of your prospects.

With this in thoughts, she recommends launching the brand new service or product you could be interested by trialling.

Anna concludes: “With the help of Xero, we’ve grown our enterprise at a staggering but managed charge, which can not have been doable in any other case.”


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