It’s back-to-school time for teachers, but it’s no more classrooms, no more books for Susan Boonstra. After working as a public schoolteacher, as well as home schooling her own children, Boonstra has moved into the business world as regional director for Anago Twin Cities, a commercial cleaning and janitorial services company. She and her husband, Daniel, recently bought the Twin Cities franchise. She plans to work full-time on the business while he continues a 26-year career teaching high-school physics and coaching soccer and Nordic skiing in Eden Prairie.
Boonstra taught school for a few years before having her children, then home-schooled two of the three for a total of five years. “I did at one point work toward re-licensing, but then I got pregnant with my third. That put it on hold,” she said. “I started to value teaching my own children but not teaching in the public arena. I started wanting to learn new things. I had this desire to know more about business. I never said ‘I don’t like teaching.’ I love teaching, I love kids. I just slowly moved away from it.”
Her role is running the office, handling advertising, client sales and franchise sales. Her husband, “a numbers guy,” is a full partner in the business but will primarily work behind the scenes. “There’s a lot of numbers in this business,” Boonstra said. “It’s really such a great fit for both of us. I’m the people person — I love to meet new people. He can come in and tie it all together. It’s an amazing balance. I’m in awe everyday, how well this fits us.”
How does your teaching experience apply to your current role?
The teaching degree did a lot for me. I couldn’t have been the mom I’ve been without the teaching experience. I learned to be organized, have a plan, then monitor what happens and adjust to the current situation. Things don’t always go according to plan, and you have to be flexible. It’s the same in the business world — there are situations that arise, and you have to be there to meet the need.
Teachers are taught to be lifelong learners, to help our students to be lifelong learners. I’m constantly learning and growing, and I’m not afraid to step out and try new challenges.
Which job is harder — teaching or running a business?
I’d say home schooling is the hardest job I’ve ever done. It’s several jobs in one, and there’s not enough time in the day to do it all. You’re a jack of all trades, balancing housework and schoolwork, trying to influence your children with your values. You have to watch how you are responding to them. If you’re having a down day, how much of that do you make known to them? You don’t want to burden them, but they need to learn to be empathetic.
What’s been the biggest challenge in becoming a business owner?
I’ve been in control at home, and now I’m leaving my teenagers in control of the house. That’s an adjustment for me. My husband says, “You’re on the phone again with them?” I did come home last Friday afternoon and discovered my 7-year-old had not had lunch. For the most part, they are really rising to the occasion, and it’s been good. I do have very responsible children — I don’t know if that’s the home school thing. I’d like to think so.