Starting a tutoring business: 5 simple steps
From choosing the right subject to expanding into an agency, follow this key advice to launch a tutoring company that scores an A+ in the business world
These are the basic steps you need to know to start a tutoring business we cover below:
- Do your homework: Market research is essential
- Know your subject and the industry
- Get your classroom materials and tech toolkit ready
- Marketing and promotion: Make your business heard above the classroom chatter
- Don’t be afraid to grow
Teaching has a long-established reputation for being a rewarding career choice. However, as pressures and regulations have continued to increase, the salary is no longer deemed particularly fit for the level of work involved – and some people are considering alternative ways to follow their passion for education.
While tutoring is often seen as a part-time hobby, setting up a tutoring company is a viable option for those who dream of inspiring young people while making a sizable profit.
Whether you want to become a self-employed tutor or have more ambitious entrepreneurial plans to set up a tutoring agency and employ your own staff; we’ve got five valuable tips to help you turn your love of education into a lucrative business venture.
1. Do your homework: Market research is essential
One of the first steps when starting your tutoring career will be choosing your specialist subject/s – normally relating to your A level choices or university course, depending on the level you decide to teach students at.
However, before narrowing down your subject choice, it's important to research your market. If you choose a competitive subject that is already well represented in your local area, it will be difficult to break into the marketplace because your competitors will have an established reputation and client base.
While it won’t be practical to teach a subject you don’t have sufficient knowledge of, choosing the subject that complements your qualifications and your market is the best combination for success.
After choosing what subject to teach, you have to decide where to run your business. There are two main options: a home-based business, or going to the student’s home, and many parents prefer for the tutoring to take place in their residence, especially if you/your employee is still relatively unknown to the family. Both locations will come with costs that must be considered, be it travel or insurance.
2. Know your subject and the industry
Although aspiring entrepreneurs do not have be qualified teachers in order to set up a tutoring business, a good knowledge of your chosen subject or the industry is necessary and therefore qualifications are key for winning customers – especially in the early days when you’re trying to build up a reputation and client base. Furthermore, an understanding of the school and examination system is important as students and parents will relate your effectiveness to your ability to improve grades. A knowledge of the education system and subject lists is also necessary if you want to start an agency; it will help you to hire the right staff, understand what areas need to be covered and prepare your staff for examinations as well as lows and highs in the annual work calendar.
Other key characteristics are enthusiasm and positivity, as well as good time-management and organisation. In order to inspire your staff or students, you’ll need to have a passion for teaching; you will also interact with people daily so being sociable is a must for both your sanity and the business’ success.
Finally, you’ll need to be able to create comprehensive plans. Both an overarching business plan, but also a daily structural plan for your lessons.
3. Get your classroom materials and tech toolkit ready
A detailed business plan will help ensure you have your finances in order from the off. You’ll need to anticipate upfront costs such as general classroom materials like stationary, books, business cards and letterheads as well as preparing for fluctuating income based on demand and anticipating it may take a while to build up a client base.
Lesson planning and tutor scheduling, as well as processing payments and securing more business will be time-consuming elements of running a tutoring business. However, as technology continues to revolutionise every industry an increasing number of businesses have targeted education, edtech is a rising trend in the start-up world, and there have been a number of businesses developing technology to make the tutoring industry easier to navigate such as Startups 100 management app Tutor Cruncher.
4. Marketing and promotion: Make your business heard above the classroom chatter
At a recent tutoring seminar by the National Tutoring Conference, a newly established industry body, expert Fred Moore from brand agency Matter of Form discussed the key ways in which tutors can make their business stand out. While the longstanding ‘word of mouth’ is still the established way in which tutoring businesses attract more customers – and hence the importance in being prepared, knowledgeable and a motivating teacher – you have to build your client base first.
Moore advises that businesses harness the internet, setting up a website and getting on social media to build their profile. Blogs can be a great way to discuss your subject and advocate your expertise; furthermore by involving yourself in educational discussions and advertising on teaching and parent platforms, such as Mumsnet, instead of the more traditional advertising routes like print; you can stand out from the crowd.
5. Don’t be afraid to grow: Launch an agency
As your tutoring business continues to grow you may find that you no longer have the time and resources to manage all the students yourself and it could be time to take on staff. More tutors will also mean you can build up a reputation and client base in less time. One of the main challenges in expanding your business will be finding the right staff to work for you.
Young Gun and founder of TutorCruncher, Woody Webster, advises that new agencies invest money into getting the best talent. Webster also reaffirms the importance of being a tutor yourself first:
DBS checks are also important in making sure you hire the right people, and note that you will have to leave a few weeks for these to be processed. This delay is worth it as reputation is key in the tutoring world, you will want someone who has the same professionalism and passion for teaching as you – a tutor who will help your business succeed in a competitive but overall rewarding business.
For a more on launching and expanding a tutoring guide, check out our comprehensive guide on how to start a tutoring business here.