Small Business and Franchise Success Stories

As her retirement from a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy drew near in 2011, Dr. Jennifer Nicholls began a full job search. She wasn’t even considering starting her own business until she discovered the Mathnasium franchise. She explains:

My father was a math teacher, and I have always been good at math. While growing up, my dad tutored math students, so I have always been aware of the demand for supplemental math education. I have university level teaching experience both at the United States Naval Academy in the Systems Engineering Department, and at the George Washington University in the Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Department. Education is really my passion, but I wasn’t interested in getting a credential so I couldn’t go the pure teaching route. Mathnasium seemed like a great fit combining my passion for education with my extensive program management experience.
While investigating ways to utilize her Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for business funding, she found Guidant. Mathnasium, coincidentally, also recommended Guidant’s services.

“The process with Guidant was very easy to navigate,” notes Nicholls. “They answered all of my questions—even the silly ones. The sales team, legal counsel and tax folks were/are extremely helpful and continue to answer any questions to this day.”

With academic degrees in aeronautical engineering and systems engineering, and a wealth of experience in the military as a government program manager, “budget and execution are old hat,” says Nicholls of running her own business. The challenges come with things like credit card processing, payroll taxes and learning the specific requirements of business ownership.

Nicholls credits her years as a Naval Officer for her strong work ethic, leadership skills and accountability. “These are all things that were introduced to me early on, but the military recognizes and rewards these attributes in a stronger way than I have observed in the civilian world.”

She states that she doesn’t have just one favorite memory from her time in the Navy. What she remembers most are the people, “Extremely talented men and women from varied backgrounds, all committed to working toward the same goals. It was truly an honor to serve with every one of them.”

Nicholls reflects on her intentions for joining the service over two decades ago:

I originally joined the Navy to fly airplanes, but it turned out that for me, being in the Navy wasn’t about being a “warfighter.” It was about serving my country, a mission in which I believe in totally and completely. I learned that I needed to believe completely in the mission to feel like I was contributing something worthwhile. I retired because now that I have a son, being deployed to a war zone is no longer palatable.
Now that she’s transitioned into civilian life, her new role as a franchise owner allows her to give back in a different way, “Mathnasium provided a way for me to serve the community on a smaller scale. I couldn’t have opened just any business, but I believe in the Mathnasium mission just as strongly and in some ways with more passion.”

Her franchise is located in Virginia Beach, Va., where a large majority of the population is made up of military families, so the children she’s serving are largely the sons and daughters of service men and women. She sees this as a bonus.

“All of the opportunities presented to me were as a result of being a woman with very strong math and engineering skills. My goal is to give as many boys and girls as I possibly can the same opportunities that were given to me,” states Nicholls.

Jennifer Nicholls is the first recipient of our veteran scholarship award. To learn more about Dr. Nicholls’ Mathnasium, visit her center’s official website. Click here for additional details on VetFran.


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