February 19, 2021

How to Start a Tutoring Business

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If you’re interested in learning how to start a tutoring business, there has never been a better time than now. Tutoring is a billion-dollar industry and growing. In addition to being a growing industry, tutoring is also a straightforward business to start and requires little upfront investment. 

However, before we go any further, let me answer a question that you probably have in your head right now. Do I need a degree or specialized training to be a tutor? The short answer is no. However, having a degree or other qualification in the subjects you teach will allow you to charge a higher fee for your services.

With that question answered, let’s walk through the process of starting a tutoring business. 

Step #1 Decide if tutoring is for you

Before you jump headfirst into setting-up a tutoring business, make sure it’s the right business idea for you. While tutoring can be very rewarding both financially and personally, it’s not for everyone. You need certain qualities and attributes to be a tutor:

Steadfast commitment: When you take on a student, you are making a commitment to help them achieve their goals. You can’t give up on them no matter how hard the challenge.

Unwavering Patience: Patience is an essential quality for a tutor. You will work with students who will have difficulties grasping a subject or who learn at a slow pace. If you have such students, you will have to work to their speed, which at times can be frustrating.

Excellent organisation and planning: Preparing lesson plans and managing the schedules of multiple students requires excellent organisation and planning skills.

Fantastic Interpersonal skills: If you’re not a people person, then this is not the business for you. To be a good tutor, you have to be personable, approachable, and attentive to the needs of your students.

Buckets of Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is infectious, and it’s the secret sauce to being a great tutor.  If you’re not enthusiastic about what your teaching, your students won’t be inspired to learn.

A creative touch: To keep students interested, you need to make lessons fun and engaging which requires a creative touch. Creativity is particularly important when tutoring younger kids.

If you tick all the boxes above and you’re still interested in learning how to start a tutoring business, then the next step is deciding on what subjects you will tutor. 

Step #2 Determine the type of tutor you want to be 

There are different types of tutors for each stage of the student learning journey. Knowing which type appeals to you will help determine your target audience and the subjects you might teach.

Pre-k Tutors: Pre-K tutors help young children between the ages of 4 and 5 get ready for kindergarten. Tutors at this stage focus on foundational learning such as the alphabet, phonetics, vocabulary, and basic grammar.

Elementary Tutors: Elementary tutors help school-aged children get ready for standardised tests. They help build knowledge across all subjects, in particular maths, English, and science.

General tutors: General tutors help develop the learning skills of middle and high school students and help them stay on top of their studies and prepare for tests. Such tutors are usually proficient in a broad range of subjects.

Specialty subject tutors: Speciality subject tutors usually work with middle and high school or first-year college students. As the name suggests, these tutors have expertise in a specific academic subject such as math or a particular area of a subject like algebra.

Test-pre tutors: Test-prep tutors specialise in preparing students to pass specific tests such as the SAT, ACT, GMAT, and MCAT exams.

Special education tutors: These tutors help children with special needs to further their education and develop their learning skills and abilities. Such tutors usually have degrees are other qualifications in special education.

Homework Help Tutors: Homework tutors assist students who struggle with homework completion and find it challenging to keep up with homework assignments. These tutors usually cover a wide range of subjects, but not always.

Step #3 Decide what subjects you will teach 

Once you know what area of tutoring appeals to you the most, you should have a better idea of your target audience, and the subjects might tutor. However, when making your final decision that are some other factors to consider. 

Knowledge & Expertise: The subjects where you have the most knowledge and expertise will play a big roll in determining who and what you should teach. You won’t be able to teach college students advanced math if you have more general knowledge of the subject.

Teaching skills & ability: Teaching Pre-K kids is vastly different from teaching high-school students. With younger children, you will need not only subject matter knowledge but also soft and hard teaching skills to develop the comprehension and learning abilities of your students.

Demand: Some subjects are more in demand than others. To determine if there is a market for your preferred subjects (and among your target audience), you can check online tutoring platforms and see what subjects are the most popular. You can also talk with teachers in your local area; they will tell you what subjects students struggle with the most.

Competition: Competition is good. It’s another way to determine that a subject is popular. However, if the competition is too heavy, you might find it hard to get enough work, at least initially, while you build a name.

Step #4 Set your pricing structure

Tutors usually charge by the hour, and their prices range anywhere from $10 to $80, which is quite a difference in pricing. The amount you can charge will depend on your expertise and qualifications in the subjects you teach and also your experience tutoring. Other factors also come into play: 

The demand: As mentioned in the previous section, some subjects or types of tutors are more in demand than others. The demand for the services you offer will play a big role in how much you can charge.

The subjects you teach: If you specialize in a specific subject or area of tutoring like test prep for SAT exams or children with special needs, you can charge more than tutors who offer a broad range of general subjects.

The Competition: Competition, either online or locally, from tutors providing the same services, will impact the prices you can charge. You might find it hard to get clients if you charge $60 per hour while your competitors charge $25.

Location: Some areas are more affluent than others. If your customer base is in a less affluent area of your city or town, they might not have the finances to pay rates at the higher end of the scale.

With the above considerations in mind, to get an idea of what you should charge, do some research on what others are charging for the subjects you will offer. Then set your pricing somewhere in the middle. Once you build your experience and reputation and become more established, you can increase your rates. 

Step #5 Build your client base

Just like with any other business, to be successful, you have to build a client base. There are many marketing methods you can use to get your name out there. Here are some of the more common ways that tutors market and promote their businesses.

Offer a free first lesson: Offering a free first lesson is a great way to encourage people to use your tutoring service. They have nothing to lose! Then deliver a fantastic lesson to your prospective new client to seal the deal.

Incentisize recommendations: If you have happy clients, you will get natural recommendations. However, you should also incentivise students (and their parents) to recommend you to others. You can do this by offering a discount or free lesson to students who refer people to you.

Make flyers and posters:  Flyers and posters are cheap but effective forms of advertising. Create flyers and distribute them in your local area and place posters in stores, schools, the local library, or community center.

Set-up a Facebook business page: Facebook allows you to set-up a free business page, where you can create a profile and add details of your business. Once you create a page, ask your friends, and family to share it with their Facebook contacts.

Create a Google My Business: If you are tutoring from your home, you can create a Google My Business profile. This is a free platform from Google, where you can add your business details, hours, pricing, and other information. If people search on Google for ‘local tutors,’ your business might show at the top of search results.

Create a simple website: With platforms like Wix, and Square Space, anyone can create a simple but professional looking website. On your website, add the services you offer, pricing information, reviews, and any other relevant information. You can then link to your website from your social profiles and your Google My Business profile. You can also add your website URL to your flyers and posters.

Set-up profiles on tutoring platforms: There are lots of online tutoring platforms like WyzantTutorme, where you can create profiles and offer your services. These platforms give you instant access to a pool of potential clients who need tutors.

Over to you

Now that you know how to start a tutoring business, the next step is to take action. Just like with any business idea, you will need to be focused and committed if you want to make this idea a reality. However, unlike many other businesses, you can set-up your tutoring business relatively fast. Once you start promoting and marketing your service, you might have your initial clients in only a few weeks, maybe even days after you launch. 

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