Entrepreneurial vision in ECEC from Nataly Tormey, an AFR woman of influence
Nataly Tormey, one of the 100 women chosen as “women of influence” in 2018 by the Australian Financial Review, has established a social enterprise designed to support children to develop and strengthen initiative and resilience, and to be confident helpers in stressful situations.
The Harry Helper program was designed by Ms Tormey, who has a background in both nursing and business strategy, on the back of her successful endeavour The Parentmedic Movement, which links parents with first aid educators who provide small group sessions tailored specifically to providing first aid to children.
While the Parentmedic program has empowered parents to assist children with first aid, Ms Tormey saw a need to support and empower children too – thus, Harry Helper was born. The Sector spoke with Ms Tormey about her journey from nursing to social enterprise, and her advice on how those within the ECEC sector can diversify their talents and establish enterprises of their own.
Who is Harry Helper?
Harry Helper, the face of the campaign, is many things, Ms Tormey said. He is kind, empathetic, playful, fun-loving, resourceful and confident. He always looks for ways to help and be of use in every situation.
Harry Helper programs give children the confidence to help, through age-appropriate education in first aid, health, and wellbeing. This, in turn, is designed to boost empathy and resilience amongst the youngsters with the programs grounded in substantial research into child development.
The program draws on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. Through its Global School Health Initiative, WHO promotes the concept of a Health-Promoting School – a school which is “constantly strengthening its capacity as a healthy setting for living, learning and working.”
The Harry Helper program also addresses research that shows that a lack of control and independence is linked to increased anxiety in children. “Numerous studies,” Ms Tormey said, “have indicated that when children don’t feel in control of their environment, or don’t feel their actions can make a difference, there is higher risk of anxiety.”
When adults of today reflect on their childhood they have fond memories of living a carefree and independent life. Fast forward to the current generation of kids, and evidence suggests they are growing up with more involved parents, teachers and carers, resulting in less independence.
Research shows that children are less proactive and less likely to help a friend in need and make decisions on their own because they expect adults to do it. This reduced independence has also been linked to a rise in childhood anxiety.
Harry Helper aims to change this. Harry Helper is the first of its kind and wants to help bring back initiative, awareness and a can-do attitude for the kids of today.
Harry Helper is an early education program aimed at three to five-year-olds. Its purpose is to give children the emotional, mental and physical skills to help others when needed.
How to succeed in entrepreneurship
“It’s hard to give specific business tips, because everyone has different ideas of what success means to them,” Ms Tormey said, before adding “but if you are passionate about an idea that will impact your sector or industry, make sure you do the research to be sure that everyone else values it as much as you.”
“If you put in the hard work at the beginning, your efforts will pay off,” she said.
Working with a mentor, or mentors, is another valuable tip, if done correctly.
“it’s important to know the difference between a mentor who is there to boost your ego, your ideas and ultimately make you feel good versus those who are there to help you with business strategy and give ‘kick ass’ guidance,” Ms Tormey said, adding that investing in someone who has “been there and done that” is essentially buying time and advice from someone who has been through what you have been through.
“No one has ever said that starting your own business is meant to be easy. You will be thrown challenges from all angles that will really test you,” Ms Tormey said.
When asked about the challenges she has faced along the way, Ms Tormey said a huge challenge for her when setting up her business was having no initial start up funds, which she described as “a daunting thought for any wannabe entrepreneur”.
Aside from the challenges of starting a business, she struggled with the constant juggle of raising a family and maintaining a healthy level of self-belief can “make for a challenging time”. She describes the start up phase as one where she was “continually bootstrapping and surviving on the dollars coming in” but never gave up.
With the right support and self-belief, Ms Tormey said she “was able to push through.” She spoke about times when she knew her business growth relied on investing 50 hours of her week and still having to play mum. But she did it!
“You can often feel like you are compromising everything and often question, “Is it worth it?”…the answer is YES! You just need to find a way of getting through the hard times,” she said.
The opportunity for educators
The Harry Helper model is a social enterprise that uses a business licence model, not a franchise. The advantage of this model, Ms Tormey said, was that there are no franchise fees and no commission fees: every dollar a helper earns goes to their bank account.
Those who take on a Harry Helper territory manage their own clients, finances and hours – a move which Ms Tormey said presents “an ideal opportunity for former teachers or early childhood educators who need more flexibility and work-life balance”.
In order to come on board with the Harry Helper program, educators and others must do a 20-hour certified online course. The course teaches Helpers exactly how to run first aid, safety, health and wellbeing programs for young children in an early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting.
Further information about Nataly Tormey:
Nataly Tormey, the brains behind Harry Helper, is a mum of two and knows all too well what challenges the kids of today face She is a selfless individual who has done everything she can to help others along her journey.
She was also announced as one of the 2018 Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence.