Are you interested in getting started as a private tutor? This page contents some essential advice on how to start a tutoring business so you can go on to have a successful career teaching students in your subject.
Private tutoring, like any business, requires the right approach and strategy to succeed.
You need to be knowledgeable in your subject, have enthusiasm and passion to help students improve, and possess excellent communication skills.
But while these factors are important in terms of your teaching ability, there are some other fundamental elements you need to run a successful business.
Here are some crucial factors you need to bear in mind if you want to know how to setup a home tutoring business.
10 Tips For Setting Up A Tutoring Business
1) Make sure you create a business plan
Before you plunge into the deep end and spend all your life savings creating a top notch teaching studio or classroom, you need to bear in mind several factors which can have an enormous impact on your business.
How much competition is there in your area?
Do people have money for tutoring in your location?
Is there enough demand for lessons in your subject?
Questions, questions, questions…
But very important ones. While I believe you can make a success of almost any tutoring business, providing you have the right marketing strategy (see further down), you should definitely come up with a business plan to cover all the important issues.
2) Come up with a name
You should come up with a name for your tutoring business. Of course the easiest solution is to just use your own name, but you could create something more intriguing.
Think about branding, and how you can capture the attention of people when they see it. You can use some 'power' words in your business name like 'advanced'. Alternatively you could use a place name to try and build local awareness. Check out Yellow Pages for some ideas.
3) Set up your teaching area correctly
Make sure you have a neat and tidy workplace for every student who comes through your front door. It creates the right impression and ensures you appear more professional and serious about your teaching.
If you’re tutoring from home, you should teach in a quiet room where other household members won’t interrupt or distract your lesson. This will make it easier for you and your student(s) to focus.
4) Make sure you have the right equipment
This also creates the right impression with your students.
Ensure you have a good computer, or tablet, with fast internet access. You might want to use some interactive games or quizzes online as part of your teaching, or stream videos on YouTube.
If you want your students to take your lessons seriously, having the right equipment is essential. Decide if you’d like your students to buy books and other materials, or whether you’ll do it and invoice them for the bill.
5) Create your payment terms
Don’t be a soft touch!
This is my golden rule with getting paid. If you start being too flexible with payment terms, you’ll make things more difficult in the long run. I suggest asking your students to pay for a block of lessons, rather than on a lesson by lesson basis. You could even offer a small discount to encourage your students to pay for a group of lessons.
Think carefully about how much you want to charge for lessons. Too cheap and you run the risk of undervaluing your business and not bringing in enough income. Too expensive and no one will pay for your lessons! Do some market research and see what the average rates are in your local area.
6) Create a cancellation policy
A well constructed cancellation policy can save a lot of problems down the line if a student becomes unreliable and you start missing out on income.
Write a policy and give it to your student during or before your first lesson. If a student has paid for a block of lessons in advance it’ll make things easier as you won’t have to chase any payment for missed lessons.
I know some tutors who are very relaxed about their payment terms, but I also know others who almost never do refunds.
Just choose a policy which you are comfortable with, but make sure you are protected for any cancelled lessons at short notice.
7) Setting up a website
Unless you have a queue of pupils lined up for their first lesson, you’ll likely need a website for students to find you online. If you have the budget, you can have one designed professionally, but I recommend you have a go yourself.
If you hire a web designer, chances are you’ll need to contact him or her every time you need to update your content. It’s far better for you to be in control of your own site so you can run things more efficiently.
I use WordPress for creating all my websites, and it really doesn’t take long to get used to the platform. Just watch a few ‘how to’ videos on YouTube and you’re on your way!
8) Applying for insurance
You should consider acquiring public liability insurance for you and your business. Although extremely unlikely, you need some protection just in case any sort of injury occurs with any of your students on your premises or involving your equipment.
9) Avoid teaching in a student’s home (if possible)
I learnt this the hard way.
Years ago, I taught a few students each week while studying a diploma in popular music. I would finish my lectures and then drive across town to teach in their homes. And full of enthusiasm to start earning some money, I accepted every student who approached me for piano lessons.
On the positive side, my students were enthusiastic, reliable and eager to improve their piano skills.
However, I spent so much time driving to their homes and being stuck in traffic, that suddenly my rate per hour didn’t seem quite as good.
Not to mention the lost money due to petrol and wear and tear on the car.
Ok, so I was still a student, living at home with mum and dad. And it wasn’t as though I had a wife and two kids to support. But this experience taught me a valuable lesson.
Time is money.
If you spend 2 hours in total to teach a 1 hour lesson, it means you could teach 2 lessons in the same time if you did it in your own studio. It’s something you should think about very carefully as the amount of income you could be missing out on soon mounts up.
Of course, sometimes it can’t be avoided. If you’re teaching a child, some parents want you to teach in their home so their son/daughter feels more comfortable. That’s understandable, but I would certainly increase your lesson fee if you have to teach in a student’s home, to offset the cost of petrol and travel time.
10) Book lessons back to back
Another tip to show your professionalism is to always book lessons back to back, even if you only have a few students. Showing your students you are busy and in demand creates the impression you are a well respected and sought after teacher.
This can help increase the chances you’ll gain referrals from your existing pupils.