New Berlin, Wisconsin
For 25 years, Greg Genal taught and directed health and physical-education programs in the Waukesha, Wisconsin public schools. Although employment with the public schools provided him with the kind of financial security he wanted in order to raise a family, something was missing.
"I was not getting a lot of satisfaction in the public sector," says Genal.13 "I would come up with a lot of different ideas, but I'd have to wait to take it to the [school] board or curriculum committee, and they'd just get lost in the bureaucracy. I still have good ideas, but now I have the freedom to execute them."
When his youngest son left for college, Genal and his wife, Diane, an accountant, decided to set their dreams in motion by founding Ready Go, a physical-education teaching business.
Ready Go now serves K-8 students in over 40 private schools and employs 12 full-time and two part-time teachers. The company provides certified instructors to teach physical education programs, using Ready Go's curriculum. The program stresses physical fitness, team building, and good sportsmanship. Ready Go also offers "wellness programs" for students and staff such as nutrition, First Aid, stress management, and drug prevention.
Most of the teachers Genal employs are either retired public-school teachers or recent graduates from education schools in the Wisconsin area. Genal acknowledges that financial compensation is lower for both himself and his teachers compared with the public sector, but says that is one of the reasons Ready Go is a cost-effective alternative for schools.
In fact, before Genal approaches any potential client, he calculates the school's cost of operating its own in-house physical education program, and then prices Ready Go's at or under that amount. Schools contracting with Ready Go pay only for the teachers' contact time with the students. In addition, because the teachers are employees of Ready Go, the schools are not responsible for paying unemployment insurance, health insurance, retirement, and other benefits. Hourly rates for Ready Go programs typically range from $13 to $15 an hour.
Some schools regard Ready Go teachers so highly, they have hired them away from Genal. Even contract provisions designed to safeguard his investment in human capital have not been effective in stopping such "pirating," he says.
Yet despite the difficulties of small-business ownership, Genal finds the rewards are well worth the effort. Genal, who often team teaches with Ready Go instructors, says the main benefit of being a private-practice educator is the personal satisfaction he derives from seeing the results of his own work.
"I truly feel I am having an impact on children's learning. The physical fitness tests, the teaching, the curriculum were all set up by myself. All that we ask the children to do I am directly responsible for. I get a real sense of satisfaction from helping children to perform at their best," he says.