Entrepreneurship in Education: Starting a Tutoring Business.
When thinking about entrepreneurship in an educational setting it is easy to look towards a tech start-up or coming up with a new and innovative product that schools and colleges might find useful. These are not the only avenues available to business-minded individuals looking to earn from the education sector.
Starting a tutoring business may not be the first thing that comes to mind and does not necessarily involve the entrepreneur in teaching students. However, it does allow a business to be more contributory than others by providing the tools for academic success and helping to unlock the potential of future generations.
So let us take a look at how tutoring and entrepreneurship can work in the wider educational landscape to the benefit of the student, the business, and society in general and the nuts and bolts of making it happen as business owners.
The Entrepreneur to Educator Pathway
Before getting into the whys and wherefores, it would be remiss not to mention the importance of the education field. Any experienced educator will likely have witnessed the impact a quality education can have on young minds and by extension how that positively impacts society in general.
For the business-minded, education and more specifically private tutoring offers a satisfying and profitable business model. It almost goes without saying that there is satisfaction to be gained from running a business that contributes to helping others, the trick is finding a business that also satisfies the entrepreneurial need for business growth & success. Starting a tutoring business fulfils both these needs and more. Let’s take a look at the details…
Online tutoring is at its best when it supports mainstream teaching, helping students excel in the subjects that are important to them or supporting them in areas where they are weak.
In traditional classrooms, teachers must cater to a diverse group of students with varying learning speeds and styles. This approach can see many students not achieving the results they could have with one-on-one tutoring.
With tutoring software readily available lessons can be given to students all over the world regardless of the tutor’s actual location. While in-person tutoring is a great resource, virtual tutoring in this way is more cost-effective for both the business and students and their families.
The benefits of additional tutoring on a one-to-one basis are multiple and include:
1. Tailored Learning Experiences
Whether a student is a visual learner struggling with math or an aspiring writer looking to improve their language skills, personalised tutoring ensures that the focus is on their specific challenges and goals.
2. Building Confidence
Often students who need one-to-one tutoring struggle in the traditional classroom setting. Whether that is a general lack of understanding of the subject or the fear of publicly getting something wrong, tutoring addresses these problems boosting the student’s confidence both back in the classroom and perhaps other areas of their lives.
3. Filling Knowledge Gaps
In the traditional classroom environment, some students naturally fall behind, making it challenging for them to catch up later. 1-1 tutoring can address this by expanding the student’s knowledge of subjects and any gaps they have.
Tutoring Business Models
Now we covered the benefits of a tutoring business for the entrepreneur and the students they will engage with, it’s time to take a look at the ways that an aspiring entrepreneur can create their very own tutoring business.
One-on-One Tutoring Provision
The simplest and fastest way into tutoring is to provide tutoring services directly to the client. This business model is clearly suited for those with teaching experience, however, you do not need to have academic experience to tutor in all subjects.
For instance, teaching languages outside of the school framework as well as numerous other skills like accounting or other life skills can be taught outside of the stricter school-based curriculum. Experienced teachers or not, this business model is easy to set up. Once set up the ‘getting started’ part is the same for both business models and explored later.
Business Providing Tutors
In this business model, there is no need for business owners to have teaching experience or academic skills.
In general, the business owners will provide a platform for tutors that includes online teaching tools such as whiteboards, video conferencing, and document-sharing facilities. The platform should also provide the tutors with administrative functions such as lesson scheduling, calendars, payment processing, etc.
Once a tutor registers with the company, they appear on the platform’s website as a tutoring choice and the tutoring business will take care of marketing the service as a whole and bring work for the tutors.
As a business owner you are still providing a service to students and their families but now you are making money from every lesson and or subscription fees from the tutors.
The tutoring business can charge a subscription to tutors to be part of the service and access the tools you are providing. Alternatively, charging a commission on lessons taught or payments processed can also provide income.
The benefit to students is they get to view a tutor’s skills and experience and choose one that suits them as opposed to the single tutor model where they only have a single choice. In fact, most individual tutors use a service or platform like this to promote their services. SuperProf and TutorFul are examples of this type of service.
How does the entrepreneur make something like this happen for their own business? It does not mean they have to develop a platform for this as there are some already in existence that cater for tutoring businesses without them having to create their own.
TutorCruncher is one of those services and a quick look at the features shows that everything is taken care of allowing the business to focus on its core offering and growth.
No business start-up is without challenges to overcome, tutoring is no different. Whether as an individual tutor or a tutoring business one of the initial challenges all will face is building a client base. As an education entrepreneur, you’ll wear multiple hats – tutor, marketer, administrator, and more. Once you get going finding time to promote your service can be a challenge.
This is why individual tutors use platforms like those mentioned to attract students who might not otherwise find them. Finding students depends on many factors like pricing, reviews, and experience to name just a few. Using a tutoring platform can help the individual tutor gain a foothold and build their reputation.
A tutoring business still needs to find clients, only this time it is both tutors and students. Advertising and referrals are a good way to get started but there is no doubt that getting traction here is key to future success, it is also likely the hardest part of this business model.
One idea is to create a tutoring business that is niche specific, by this, we don’t necessarily mean subject specific. For instance, what about a US-based tutoring service for expat families abroad? By targeting countries one at a time, it seems logical that it would be easier to find students when offering this kind of specialised service.
In this case, specialising the service can make it easier to market, perhaps even just providing core subject support to expats if the entrepreneur has that kind of knowledge of the subject would be beneficial.
Steps for a Successful Tutoring Business
Here are some of the most basic, but essential steps to take when starting a tutoring business of any kind:
1. Define Your Niche – Identify your expertise and target audience
As an individual tutor, determine the subjects and grade levels you’re most comfortable teaching and the unique value you can offer to students. As a tutoring business, creating a specialisation for your business can pay dividends especially when starting. How wide you go in defining a niche will depend on the resources available.
2. Make a Plan – A Business Plan
A well-thought-out tutoring business plan will be your roadmap to success. It will help a tutor to be clear how much to charge, how many lessons they should teach and what additional services they can provide to be in profit. The same applies to a tutoring business model with only the metrics really changing.
3. Legal and Administration
A tutoring business should be set on a legal footing. Different regions may require licenses and different documents from others, to ensure a business is legal. Communicate with local authorities where it is to be established. Administration and record keeping of personal data and student progress is an important factor and a legal requirement in most regions.
4. Create Engaging Lesson Plans
Design interactive and engaging lesson plans that cater to individual learning styles. In a tutoring business, this will be the responsibility of individual tutors, however, the business should be providing the means to do this via the platform features they provide
As a business this is one of the most essential parts of the offering to attract tutors, make sure the business plan is clear on how this is achieved and the messaging to be used to attract clients for the tutors.
6. Provide Stellar Customer Service
Providing excellent customer service is the best way to build a reputation and get referrals. Both tutors and tutoring businesses will live or die by the reputation of the tutors.
For an entrepreneur who is keen to combine personal and business success with making a difference, education ticks all the right boxes. Tutoring is a stand-out opportunity for successful entrepreneurship in education.