How to Start a Tutoring Business

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Guest Post: We thank Nicholas Barnes for posting this article to our blog.

If you are looking for a way to monetize your teaching skills, starting a tutoring business is one of the first options that come to mind.

Parents, particularly middle-class parents, are not especially price-sensitive when it comes to their children’s education.

It’s not always necessary to come from a teaching background, either. People want to know if you can teach effectively and deliver engaging lessons that are fun.

Setting up requires some planning and preparation. You’ll need to factor in where you will conduct your lessons and how much it will cost for teaching materials, travel, and a classroom.

1. Create a Business Plan

starting tutoring business plan

The first step you should take is to make a detailed plan. This will help you to first define goals and then achieve them. Your plan will be a living document that you can keep revising as you progress through the various stages of your start-up.

By breaking down your goals into small achievable goals, you will have a far stronger chance of success.

At this point, you can identify what type of lessons you will deliver, to whom you will deliver them to, and how you will achieve this. If you think of online tutoring as the part of the plan (and we think you should), you may find Online Tutoring Mastery blog posts about becoming an online tutor and finding online tutoring jobs useful.

Here are the steps you can take when writing your business plan…

1.1. Define your Vision

You must have a clear goal in mind so you know exactly what you need to do within a certain timescale. Your vision could be for example, “I aim to be earning $5,000 a month teaching English to foreign students within 12 months.”

The next step is to set goals and objectives. It’s always a good idea to think big. If you work on a small scale, you could be missing out on opportunities and revenue.

For a teaching business, your main goal is to achieve regular satisfied students that keep returning. You are aiming to solve your students’ problems, and to provide them with fun and engaging lessons.

1.2. Set Goals and Objectives

You will need to set short term goals, mid-term goals, and long-term goals.

A short term goal might be building a website to promote your services or find suitable premises to conduct lessons.

A mid-term goal might be to build your online presence so that you have a regular flow of online traffic to attract potential students. One example might be to add 100 blog articles to your website.

Your long-term goal will dictate your short-term goals, which is why the vision is so important.

1.3. Define your Unique Selling Point

To increase student numbers, you need to stand out from the crowd. To stand out from other tutors, try to use something unique to you.

For example, you might be a musician and use songs to practice English lessons. If you’re a graphic designer, you could design bright and colorful materials and animations to support your lessons.

1.4. Know Your Market

You might think you have a brilliant and unique idea, but someone else might have got there before you. This shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your idea, but being aware of the competition will help you to position yourself.

In your competitor research, list all of the other providers with a similar service, then think creatively of ways you can position yourself in a way that makes you stand out. Learn about current trends and watch what happens in the future.

1.5. Know Your Customer

You need to understand exactly what your ideal student wants and desires. Research their habits. What social media do they use? What movies do they enjoy watching? Why do they want to learn your subject?

It’s vital to understand your students’ motivation if you want to make your teaching successful. You can devote your energies wholly to areas important to them so you don’t waste time on less fruitful areas.

Put yourself in their shoes and think about why they would choose you over another tutor. Generate ideas and then implement them.

1.6. Research the Demand

Do your research and establish how many people need your services. Online tutoring is a booming industry at the moment with the current pandemic.  Most Chinese parents wants their children to learn English so you may want to consider online teaching.

There is certainly a demand for private tuition, but demand should be more than supply. If there are already hundreds of teachers teaching your subject, you may have a hard time getting traction.

The best way to research demand for your teaching service is to interact directly with potential students in your community. Engage with parent groups on social media and talk to people in your street.

1.7. Identify Your Market

The first step is to answer the “Who, what, why, where, how” questions.

1.8. Who Can I Teach?

What age students will you teach? Elementary students? Middle school students, or high school students? Or, perhaps you prefer teaching adults? Maybe you could target single moms or business executives?

1.9. What Am I Good At?

This should be a major deciding factor in the type of subject you choose to teach. If you have a particular skill or interest that you’re good at, this is a good area to consider.

To provide value to your students choose a subject which you feel comfortable teaching.

1.10. What Do People Need Help With?

Look at your own community and identify the problems that people are having. Perhaps people need help preparing for their SATs. Or maybe there are many people that need to practice their English conversation for an IELTS exam?

Ask around, do some online research in online forums to find the gaps that people need to fill with their education.

2. Types of Private Tuition

private tuition

If you’re not sure what to teach, browse through this list of subjects. People want tuition on all sorts of subjects, not necessarily academic subjects.

If you’re interested in any of the topics, you can then start to consider lessons you could create and who you will target with these lessons.

  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Geography
  • Teaching students with ADHD
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Yoga
  • Arts and crafts
  • Marketing
  • Fitness
  • Weight Loss
  • Life coaching
  • Nutrition
  • Computer programming
  • Languages
  • Cooking
  • Design
  • Photography
  • Sales
  • Real estate
  • Career development
  • Stress management
  • Design
  • Pet training

As you can see, people want tutorials on just about anything. Once you decide which subject is your area of expertise you can then decide on the demographic you want to target.

2.1. How Much Will You Charge?

Setting your prices including preparation time. It might take you around 30 minutes for every teaching hour so you will need to factor this into your pricing.

Look at every single cost that will be involved such as travel, teaching materials, marketing materials online and offline, and classroom premises. Once you’ve established these costs, try to optimize them.

3. What Hours Will You Work?

In order to reach your vision of earning a certain figure, you will need to factor in how many hours you will teach and how many hours to spend on developing your business and generating students.

You may want to delegate your social media presence to a specialist in this area to help get your name out there. This will save you time and money in the long run as a professional has made their mistakes and know how to take your business forward in a shorter time.

3.1. Your Business Model

Work out every cost involved in starting and running your business. When you’ve done this look for ways to optimize costs then create a business plan that you can start marketing to people.

You could offer a combination of services such as hourly tutoring as well as create packages where people sign up for a block of online lessons at a reduced rate.

You could also offer a commission to students who refer new students.

4. Establish Your Online and Offline Presence

Start Tutoring Online Presence

As a business, your website and social media presence are vital to getting students to sign up. You will need to create a website with a home page, services page, an about page, a contact page, and a sign-up page.

Make sure the content is well written and specifically targeted to your audience.

5. Finding Students

Once you’ve got your site up and running there’s more work to do. You may want to hire an online marketing strategist who can find the best search strings for your particular niche.

Other tactics you could try include:

  • Offer a Commission For Referrals
  • Leaflets
  • Reach out to schools, parent groups, post on Facebook
  • Facebook Ads
  • Internet ads
  • Content Marketing
  • SEO
  • Craigslist

Remember that if you are targeting children, you are marketing to the parents rather than the children. They want their children to be engaged and successful and your marketing efforts need to appeal to this need.

Keep an eye out in the newspaper as some parents advertise for a private tutor.

(Also, if you are interested in online tutoring opportunities and platforms as well, you can check out the guests posts we have on becoming a tutor on Wyzant, becoming a tutor on Chegg. You may find Nicholas Barnes’ post on online teaching jobs useful as well.)

6. Final Thoughts

Always refer to your business plan to ensure you’re staying on track with your objectives. You can revise your business plan at any time. If you discover an emerging niche you may want to change direction in the type of lessons you provide.

You may also discover you need to spend more time on promoting your services instance. You could even find that online teaching is more lucrative for you in the longer term.

Ultimately, staying focused on your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals is the best way to achieve success. And remember to focus on what your students really need and want.

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