Baby Squids Franchising - want to love what you do?

This month we talk to Laura Skilton, founder of Baby Squids, who set up her first swim school in 2012 to allow her the flexibility she needed as a mum. Since then the business has grown significantly, and with a recent rebrand this dedicated baby and child focused swimming school is looking for Franchisees from across the UK to join them on their journey!

What awards have you won or been nominated for?

Finalist in Natwest Venus Business Awards, nominated for Club Hub awards 2019, currently nominated for 2 awards in the What’s On For Kids Awards 2019.

Tell us about yourself and your business?

I worked in the same company from 20, working my way up into a management role which I loved. Managing and coaching people has always been the best part of my job! Having been made redundant on maternity leave with my son, Harry, I knew I needed to do something to work around the flexibility I needed as a mum. Baby Squids (originally called Baby Paddlers) was set up in 2012 and I found that developing and growing my own swimming teaching business through the first years played perfectly to my natural strengths. I loved running classes and working around Harry, managing my admin during nap times and in the evenings. I knew there was potential for the Baby Squids approach to swimming lessons developing further and so we “dived into the deep end” and bought 2 other swim schools, rebranded them and grew the business.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I knew I could do it, I remember being so nervous at my first lessons but as soon as I met customers I just loved every moment. I’m inspired by so many people around me who are challenging themselves in all areas of their life. There really wasn’t anything to lose at the time and I strongly believe in fate.

What makes your business successful?

Being kind! Our ethos is to do everything in a fun, gentle and nurturing way, whether it comes from our customer service or our lessons! Ultimately we want happy children and parents in our classes so we put significant effort into recruiting the right people to live and breath this approach.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Everything, I’m very lucky to have got to the point now that I have flexibility around my family life and the opportunity to build my team and coach them to be successful in everything they do. And I still love getting in the water, I teach every week and love seeing how the children develop and shine in their lessons.

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

When you buy a franchise you are launching under an established and respected brand, with the operating model, customer and marketing all worked out for you.

As a franchisee, your energy and drive have a huge opportunity to build on the expertise and experience of the brand owner to bring you great results. It’s no surprise then that franchise businesses have a higher success rate than entrepreneurs setting up from scratch.

It is also invariably easier and quicker to set up a franchise. You should find it easier to secure funding for a proven business model and market, and – from the outset – you’ll benefit from all the training, support and guidance that the franchisor will provide you.

Who is typically suited to being a franchisee?

Self motivated people who have a drive for success and being part of a team. Being a skilled and positive communicator is absolutely key. And a problem solver who looks for quality and excellence in everything they do.

What training and support are available?

Our training programme and operations manual give franchisees all they need to get started and build a successful business. As well as the business training programme we put a big focus on individual requirements. We work with our franchisees to tailor their initial package so that it suits their strengths and they can gain access to the additional support training that will really work for them. For example social media and PR training with the experts or additional finance / book-keeping training for those who have never touched this side of a business before.

What hours would I need to work?

Initially we would expect you to be working around 10-15 hours a week to build up the business, run classes and marketing in the right way. It really is down to the franchisee what they want out their lifestyle and their business. You have the opportunity to see how the business grows and bring in additional help to support your flexibility or turn it into a full time job! You are in control!

What has been your own experience as a mum returning to work?

I have always worked hard and I’m driven by change and motivated by people. I took on a lead volunteering role with the NCT when I started the business in order to grow my network within the local community and scratch my “managerial itch”. And slowly as the business grew and I had two more children I have just found that I am so fulfilled in all areas of my life. I consider myself very lucky and I’m hugely driven to support other mums to do the same.

What advice would you give to someone looking to buy into a franchise?

You definitely need to be passionate about running your own business and about the business you are buying into. The opportunity will feel exciting and will consume your thoughts! In a good way, if you feel like this then high chances are it’s the right thing for you. Do your research and talk to people you know who can help, support around you is definitely important to success.

How can I find out more about becoming a franchisee?

We have a comprehensive brochure which we can send through to you, just email me on or call on 01962 680236.

You can check out our franchise website on

Where can I find information about your classes?

Our customer website is and you can see all locations and information about our classes.

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