In the 10 years since best friends Tracy Townend and Jo Stone launched Puddle Ducks, they have seen their business grow to over 20 locations across the UK.

Townend and Stone (pictured top) launched Puddle Ducks, which provides swimming lessons to babies and young children, in 2001 when they were both expecting their first child. Prior to this the friends had graduated with Honours before working at high levels within their disciplines of engineering and IT. They decided to launch their own business to achieve a better work life balance.

The business partners deliberately built the business slowly, focusing on the creation of a unique and effective teaching programme and creating a robust franchise model, before franchising the business in 2007. Today, Puddle Ducks is wholly owned and operated by women for who a flexible, part-time role that allows a stable work life balance is absolutely paramount. Puddle Ducks’ franchise owners are a team of professional women from a range of previous careers including solicitors, accountants and senior managers and are now dedicating their skills and expertise to running their own business while still having the time to enjoy family life.

The Puddle Ducks philosophy is all about living life swimmingly. This ethos continues to attract franchise owners across the UK, and Puddle Ducks is actively growing its franchise network and making its mark on the business world. In the last three months it has won three national awards: Most Recommended Franchise and Overall Best Franchise at the Best Franchise Awards 2011 and Puddle Duck’s South Leicestershire franchise owner Donna Taylor made it into Mumpreneur UK’s Top 100 Best Small Businesses 2011.

Stone, co-founder of Puddle Ducks, said: “Everyone who works at Puddle Ducks has a passion to give children the best start in life and we knew that if our teaching programmes gave children confidence in the water it would impact on their confidence as a whole and if you look at the comments we receive on our facebook page then you’ll see that it is working just as we’d hoped and we are all having a great, fun time too.

“Tracy and I wanted to build a business that gained success through reputation and winning the overall Best Franchise at the end of November is just fantastic endorsement that our training, systems and every other aspect of our franchise is of a high standard within the industry. We are now in to our 10-year anniversary and can see 2012 shaping up as our best year yet. We’ve achieved a lot through our friendship and we hope that our success will inspire other women to get out there and make a splash of their own.”

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