Looking to start your own tutoring business?
Without exception, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the events of 2020. If you had been asked, just a year ago, where do you think you will see your self at the end of 2020, I’m predicting the year you foresaw is not the one that actually came to fruition.
However, countless parents are concerned about the amount of time their children have had to take off school this year. Many of these parents are now looking to seek additional support for their child’s education in the form of tutors.
The growth of the eLearning market is not solely due to the pandemic. Online learning investments reached $18.6 billion in 2019, with predictions for 2025 reaching $350 billion according to Video Learning And Video Tutoring 2021 Trends – eLearning Industry.
Another report predicts that private tutoring will grow at an annual rate of over 7& and reach a market size of $279.3 billion, come the end of 2027
Although these numbers sound impressive, not every person that starts a tutoring business will flourish and it would be wrong to imply that they would.
However, there are some simple steps you can take that will set you off in the right direction:
Is tutoring the right business for you?
Tutoring is seen by many as easy money. Yes, it can be, but people with that attitude will probably never take their business to its full potential.
You need to be dedicated to helping the individuals you work with. You are playing with their future. This is a huge responsibility!
Are you looking to tutor or run a business? Do you want to work in the business, on the business or both?
If you are wanting to run the business you will need to be prepared to do the booking keeping, prepare systems for no-shows and non-payers. Building a successful tutoring business takes a huge investment in time and effort as well as a financial investment (building a website alone can cost in excess of a thousand pounds, plus the expense of hosting it, promoting it and constantly updating it. You will also need some educational knowledge so that you can support and advise the tutors working for you?
Is tutoring the right business to get into?
Or, If you are looking to purely do the tutoring, then you may be better seeking employment via an agency or an established tutoring company that employs tutors.
What sort of tutor do you want to be?
Surely a tutor is a tutor!
No, I’m afraid not.
You’ll need to consider where your expertise lies. Do you want to work with younger children or adults, teenagers, or those with learning difficulties?
Do you want to support the core academic subjects such as math, English, or Science? Perhaps your passion is in a different area such as History, Geography, Business Studies? Maybe it is supporting the arts that is your calling?
What sort of resources do you want to use? Do you want to find worksheets on the internet, or buy textbooks to work from? Personally, I enjoy making many of the resources that we use, so that they can be adapted to the needs of the individual. Although this sounds like a lot more effort, the more you can tailor the lesson to your student, the more you will be able to boost their enthusiasm and inspire them. There is a saying:
“Perfect Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance”
There is an awful lot of truth in this.
Do you want to work with children one to one or would you rather work in groups of two or three, or maybe even more!
Are you planning to do all your lessons online, or are you more committed to working in person once lockdowns start to lift and life starts to resemble what it used to be?
Taking your time now to consider each of these points, will make it easier to establish your business. You will be clearer about who you need to market to, what resources you will need and where you will find them.
Why do you want to tutor?
There is no right or wrong answer to this, just a personal one. But the answer to this question is what is going to need to inspire you to put the effort into growing your business. When I started, I had put my background of education on hold 6 months before after my divorce. But a friend I made on a training course suggested I had a go.
It seemed like the ideal opportunity to put my degree and my experience into practice. It sounded like I could be creative and at the time, it would also serve as an additional income to the job I was in. I only ever intended to tutor part time, but within 6 months it became my fulltime role and within 18 months I was having to find additional tutors to work with me because I couldn’t cater for the demand myself.
That makes the road sound easy. Trust me, it was not!
There were many tears and sleepless nights over those months. But I was committed and, in some way, enjoying the challenge that building a tutoring business was creating.
Over the years my why has changed. I believe that each one of us is an individual and when it comes to learning, a one style suits all approach doesn’t work. I’ve also heard some horror stories from parents about the service they (or friends) have experienced from tutors over the years, and my goal now, is to set a standard for tutors to work to.
Many years ago, when my lad was doing his A’ levels, I arranged for a tutor to come and spend a couple of hours doing some work with him. He had missed a lesson for some reason and had a test coming up, so needed to catch up on what he had missed.
This tutor (baring in mind this is going back to 2014ish) charged £50/hour plus transport. He turned up with his shirt undone exposing most of his chest. His jeans were ripped and the only thing he had with him was a pen and the question: “what would you like to talk about?”
Now, if someone turned it to present a training day with that attitude, I think most people would ask for their money back. But as a tutor, it seemed acceptable to him…
Plan your budget
When I started the business, I signed up on a national platform and wrote a profile. It found me some work, maybe my first couple of families but not much more. I then decided I needed a website. My background was education rather than business, so at this stage, I was just following my instinct and listening to anyone who had an opinion.
The business website has evolved many times over the years. But having one has meant that people have found me directly, rather than having to pay the fees that the national platforms demand.
It also means they can find out everything about me and my team, our beliefs, how we run the lessons and why. If they are interested, they will get in touch. If they are not, that’s fine. We can’t please everyone, no matter how hard we might try.
But having a website is expensive and trying to find a good web developer is like looking for that elusive needle in a haystack.
Once you have built it, you then need to promote it. Because you could build the best tutoring business in the world, but if no-one knows it exists, you will never find the students that you need.
To some extent you can market organically, but it is worth deciding if you can afford a marketing budget and where you will spend that money.
Do you need to learn about marketing: Facebook ads, Google ads, Google my business, etc or is this something you are already proficient in? If you need to learn where will you source that information?
There is a lot of information available online these days, but I’ve had a mentor for the past few years and that has helped my to drive the business forward at a speed I could never have predicted otherwise. I read daily, I watch training videos and I’ve spent a fortune on training days and networking events.
I’ve established where my weaknesses are, and I work hard to improve so that I can take the business as far as is humanly possible.
List your strengths and your weaknesses and use this to write yourself a plan of things you need to invest both your time and money in as you start to move your business forward.
Do your market research
What are other tutors in your area/ industry offering?
What do they charge?
How do they differentiate themselves from everyone else? How will you differentiate yourself?
We pride ourselves that every lesson is tailor made to the needs of the individual regardless of their starting point or their end goals.
(This brings me to another point you might consider; some tutors only want to work with students who are predicted high results so that it doesn’t affect their pass rate. Is that you? We have built a reputation for often working with those who have learning difficulties, so our need to have a 100% pass rate isn’t as realistic for us.
Choose a business name
When I started the business, I chose Starr Tutoring. Starr was my maiden name, and I was very proud of being recognised as a “Starr”. At that time, I never dreamt that one day I would like to make the business an inspiration worldwide. So when I set about the legal requirements to franchise the business in 2019 and provide tutors with the systems needed to follow our model I needed to get the brand trademarked. The name was objected to as it was too similar to another company whose name was Star. I was told I could contest their objection, but it could take up to 2 years and cost more than £20,000.
It broke my heart to let go of my family name and to some extent detach the business from the reputation I had built, but I decided that I wanted to move on and renamed the business: Clara James Tutoring.
Clara is my oldest daughter; Jamie is my son and Angel (the logo holding a book) is my youngest daughter.
I hoped that giving the company a personal name, it would reflect the personal service that we provided. It also meant I could still incorporate three of the most important people in my life.
Set up a business bank account and register your business
Depending where you are in the world, the people you need to advise will vary. I suggest you speak to an accountant, also a small business lawyer, to ensure that you are trading legally.
Create a plan to market your business
I’ve touched on marketing your business, previously.
Because you are confident about who and how you want to tutor, you can establish exactly where you will find those people.
What social media platforms are they on?
How old are they? What sort of language do they use?
Familiarise yourself as much as you can with this person because the better you know them, the easier it will be to create your marketing plan. Many people call this their customer avatar.
From my own personal perspective, I have found been present on Facebook has been truly invaluable, but I know of others who prefer Instagram, Linkedin or Twitter. Like I say, learn who your audience is and make yourself present there.
Seek support when you need it
My journey since starting the business back in 2012, has made me a firm believer, that no one can achieve everything on their own. No-one knows everything. We all continue to learn every day.
For the past few years, I have had a mentor and she has been fantastic in helping me move the business forward. But I’ve also learned so much from Google, books, training courses, blogs and the list goes on.
I have put together a free printable to help you answer some of these questions, if you would like a copy, send me a message with the heading “Free printable to become a tutor” to:
and I will happily send it across, or answer any other questions that you may have.
This month we have introduced the “Clara James Brand Ambassador” for those who are looking to start their own tutoring business.
If you are interested in finding out more, click here