Interviews with businesswomen. Alexandra Rudenko
Social portal “Career for a New Life” as an information partner of the NGO “Modern Woman” publishes interviews with participants of the training programs of the Center for Small and Medium Business Development.
From tutoring to starting a Learning Center! Oleksandra Rudenko, a graduate of the first wave of the Business Development Training Program, which took place in September-October 2018, tells the story of creating and developing her own business. Oleksandra is the founder of the Oleksandra Rudenko Training Center, a training consultant, a practicing psychologist, a coach, an art coach, a teacher-methodologist, a tutor, and a mother of three.
The Business Development Training Program was conducted by the Center for Small and Medium Business Development of the Project “Center for Gender Culture as a Platform for Empowerment of Women and Youth”, funded by the European Union. The work of the Center for Small and Medium Business Development is coordinated by HGNO “Modern Woman”.
How did you start your business? How did you choose this type of activity?
I’ve been teaching math for over 20 years. I do this work with soul and love, I worked in a public school for 18 years. I consider important the child’s development and skills in communication, communication, speech. All of these things can be implemented in math. That is why I am engaged in tutoring activities in parallel as much as I teach. And I saw in tutoring how important such priorities are and how to implement them.
Your first step in how you started your business was tutoring?
I started in the 90s and the situation was quite difficult then, I had to somehow support and raise my own child. That’s why I did tutoring. And during this time she grew to the level that in 2011 she decided to make tutoring really a job. All efforts led to the emergence of a personal brand of mathematics tutor Oleksandra Rudenko in 2013, followed by the Tutors Club. Since 2013, almost 50% of tutors who studied in the Tutor Club have already opened their centers, courses, schools. Being in such an environment, I also grew. Initially, it was an office, a private practice, now there is a Training Center of Alexandra Rudenko. My team and I continue to grow by teaching math.
What challenges did you face along the way? How did you solve them? What experience did you get for yourself thanks to it?
Most of my problems as a teacher were related to the acceptance of the financial side of the issue, because teachers have the idea that we have to work hard, be smart, eternal, and good to the masses, and not ready to receive money for it. To start a business, you need to decide within yourself that finance is a tool, that you work well, and that people value you.
Starting a business was a landmark moment because paying taxes for a businesswoman is not only a way out of your comfort zone but also a matter of social responsibility. When you reach a certain level, you begin to understand that taxes are good. You have to pay, and if you don’t, you don’t exist as an entrepreneur. You can talk about business, about earnings as much as you want, and do something quietly on your knees. But as long as you don’t pay taxes and run a socially responsible business, you’re a person who can’t yet tell the world he’s an entrepreneur.
Please name a few rules or principles that guide your business?
In the conduct of my business, I am guided by the principle “do what you can, and let it be as it will be.” You need to take responsibility. Therefore, there are principles, for example, if something is beyond my responsibility – I do not take action. That’s fair.
In your opinion, is there pressure on women who are engaged in their own business from society, acquaintances, and/or relatives?
My ex-husband at that time served in an anti-terrorist operation and I understood that to feed children to anybody. There is simply no other way to solve financial problems than to start making money yourself. My decision that I would work and work a lot, earn more, led to my ex-husband leaving us. This was one of the key moments in deciding to start your own business.
There is a widespread belief that a woman should be able to combine career and family, and men do not have such a choice, a man immediately builds a career, because it is assumed that his family will be cared for by a woman.
Even if a woman is making a career, having a family is not a background for her. That is, if for a man it is a background, then for a woman it is important. I have three children and by law, I must be responsible for them, raise them, and raise them. Therefore, the question of my entrepreneurial activity has always been in the plane of maternal functions. In my worldview, entrepreneurship does not contradict my personal life, it does not contradict my motherly responsibilities. For me, career and family go hand in hand. Every day I try to communicate with my children, do something at work, see a loved one, enjoy simple things.
What knowledge and skills do you think will be most important for women entrepreneurs?
I really like the work done by HGNO “Modern Woman”. This is a collaboration between women. For women, communication and a sense of contact are primary. I saw how in the Tutors’ Club women living in different parts of Ukraine, only thanks to this communication began to do their own thing. When women have this communication and support, they just reach the top of space.
Because you touched on women’s communication. How did your participation in the Business Development Training Program affect you?
I’ve definitely had changes. They were really connected to this communication. For example, together with Larysa Gobelevska, we implemented a joint project, the autobiographical book “Roskoshnitsa” about women’s destiny was published. As I read this book, other women changed. There were stories when women after reading this book divorced and built their lives. There were stories when women read this book and began to study, or just disassembled the garbage on the balcony. This book was made after the completion of the Training Program. There are financial changes, there are personal changes.
After studying, she found the strength to say that men are not so bad and resolved issues in personal life. And I also realized that work is not everything for a woman, and it is important to have a partner nearby, a person you can count on and trust. Thank you for your tremendous work for Ukrainian women.
What changes have taken place in your business since the end of the Training Program?
Revenue doubles each year. That is, in comparison with the initial position, we have quadrupled the profit in two years. The number of staff has increased fivefold. We have also entered a new market online. New online groups have appeared online and math classes have expanded geography: not only Kharkiv but the whole of Ukraine, as well as abroad. I do everything slowly: the center is formed from the office, more teachers appear. I plan to develop this business. In terms of strategy, I can say that a franchise in the education business would be a great opportunity, and we are moving in that direction.
What advice would you give to women planning to start or starting a business?
The first is the environment to get a little bit of this virus of entrepreneurship, business. The second is the processing of internal installations. Happiness to you, dear women, and prosperity of HGNO “Modern Woman”.