Traveling Tutor Aims to Keep Sick Children at the Head of the Class

Like so many small businesses, Traveling Tutor was created to satisfy a need: Penny Banner didn’t want any more children to be left behind just because they had to miss school because of illness or hospitalization. While the business is still in its infancy, Penny, a runner-up in our Make Your Idea Happen contest, says she has already learned plenty about what it will take to make her venture a success.

Staples caught up with her to learn how she intends to make more happen for children who need this service.

Tell us a little about your business: What gave you the idea?

The idea came to me one day while I was visiting with a friend whose son was sick and in the hospital. He was missing so much school, and he really missed his friends. When he returned to school, he was so far behind that he was at risk of needing to take the grade over. I want to give kids who are sick or unable to attend school the ability to participate in class from a hospital room — if they’re able. I don’t want children to be left behind because of an illness or other ailment. I want to be the person who gives that special child whatever it takes to continue his or her education.

What challenges you the most, and how do you handle it?

My biggest challenge is having enough time in the day to accomplish all the necessary things life throws me. I have no choice but to roll up my sleeves and get done what I can. I am fortunate enough to have a patient and understanding family that helps me get through all of it.

How do you define success?

I think success is setting out to accomplish something, even if it’s small, or even if it took several attempts to make it happen, but still managing to follow through proudly. Equally important, success to me would be keeping any child in the loop with their classroom and peers and having them smile about it.

What’s one thing you can’t run your business without?

My business would never survive without today’s technology. So much of our learning is done through electronic devices and wireless networks. Without them, our world would be very still.

Do you have a mentor?

I would have to say my husband is my mentor. He always finds the good in people and sets a good example. He is almost perfect in my eyes and makes me want to be a better person. He encourages me to follow my heart and supports me even when things don’t turn out as expected. He would say, “At least you tried and that’s what matters.” It is because of him that I accomplish my goals.

Is there a quote you live by? What is it and who said it?

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! I think Thumper said it in the movie Bambi. I learned this as a child and still tell my kids every day.

What role does Staples play in helping your business succeed?

Staples has everything my business needs to get off the ground. Technology with laptops and tablets, school supplies and so much more are all available in one place. I can even order online when time is a factor and have my supplies shipped to my business. I find comfort knowing team members are available to help me narrow down decisions when I am comparing products.

If you could go back in time to the day you decided to start your business, what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself I should have done this years ago — then by now, it will have already been big! Hopefully, I’ll get to watch my business grow and can reflect back later in life.

Staples® Products to Help Make This Idea Happen:

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