Dream BIG, Do BIG: Proof that Solving Real Problems is the Secret to a Booming Business


Want to know the secret to success? It’s not all the glamour and glitz of coming up with the latest sexy new idea or even the luck of the draw in discovering the latest craze. It’s solving real problems.

Just ask husband and wife entrepreneurs, Peter and Emma Fuerbringer, who proved that by simply listening to what the marketplace wants and delivering exactly that, you can take an ordinary business and turn it into an extraordinary success.

The Business: VonKids

The BIG Dream: Combine childcare with preschool education

The ‘BIG Dream’ didn’t start as a big dream at all. Instead Emma created the very first VonKids program to help out friends who were in dire need of reliable childcare.

Like all good entrepreneurial stories, one thing lead to another and before they knew it VonKids was operating 27 dayhomes in Calgary with additional 4 programs falling under their endorsed program.

The BIG Doing: Investing in curriculum development

Both former teachers themselves, Peter and Emma quickly realized the success of the VonKids program relied on developing an early education curriculum for their dayhome directors to follow.

VonKids enlisted the help of Margaret Smith and Michelle Beardsley, both leaders in the early education field, to create the VonKids curriculum from the ground up. Both were key in influencing their full day preschool approach for their older child programs.

The BIG Success: $1.5 million in revenue and an overflowing waitlist

Success in a ‘vanilla’ industry like childcare isn’t easy when around every corner there’s a new daycare or dayhome opening up. The key is not in the business model itself, but rather the delivery of an innovative program that fits exactly what people want.

VonKids listened to what parents wanted in terms of childcare: quality childcare in a warm home environment with an emphasis on learning and growth. The result was the VonKids program that takes the best of the daycare and early childhood education and combines them.

The BIG Advice: “Don’t try to cheat and take shortcuts”

“The reality of success is it’s messy and painful. You have to be willing to push forward with your idea when it becoming challenging and boring,” says Fuerbringer who admits poopy diapers and runny noses isn’t the sexiest industry. “You have to be willing to do the work. So often people try to take shortcuts.”

“Often people think big success needs to be something entirely new and innovative, but people are far too busy to figure out new stuff. Instead of trying to come up with something new, we took what was already being done and tweaked it.”

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  1. Thanks for sharing this > “The reality of success is it’s messy and painful. You have to be willing to push forward with your idea when it becoming challenging and boring. You have to be willing to do the work. So often people try to take shortcuts.”< I've been telling myself for years that I'll write a fiction book. And that day never comes when I sit at a desk with the birds singing, and a pen and paper in hand, with plenty of hours before me. I force myself to do at least one hour of writing a day, even if that means less sleep.  No shortcuts!  And yes, it's painful!

  2. Yes!!! Success is never as easy as it seems in those Made-for-TV movies where the hero always wins! Keep plugging away — most authors say they write their books one day at a time!

  3. I have watched my (little!) Sister, Emma, and her husband, Peter, build this business from the ground up. Their commitment, hard work, patience and mutual support has been awe-inspiring. They also provide great leadership and motivation to their, also very hard working, team. Keeping the big picture whilst still taking care of the important details is a difficult juggling act and for me the other important reason for the success of VonKids is the willingness to pick up the balls and keep juggling after one has been dropped….a can do, WILL do attitude. Success is not for quitters!
    All this and two wonderful, happy daughters too. Well done Emma, I very proud of you all!

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