Tips for Starting a Tutoring Business
Will the road to tutoring business success be rough or rocky? There’s no crystal ball, but there are some intelligent steps you can take to lead yourself in the right direction.
- Know Thyself
Owning your own business can prove rewarding if you start off with the right attitude. It helps to possess a few distinct qualities as well as a positive, motivated mindset. Ask yourself why you’re getting into the business of running your own business before you attempt anything else. Are you excited about the triumphs you’ll encounter along the way, as well as the disappointments? Do you possess enough stick withal to bounce back from unpleasant surprises? Take a good, hard look at your character as well as what’s motivating you to pursue this venture in the first place. Without loads of endurance, passion and persistence, you might as well turn back around. Entrepreneurs are blessed with stubborn streaks: A bit of obstinacy is crucial to success in such a competitive field, and even just a hint of it can provide enough of a boost to get you where you’re going.
- Expand on Strengths
Identify your weaknesses and toss them aside. It’s best to capitalize on your strengths and expand on them as much as possible. If you’re the one who will be doing the tutoring, don’t take finding a niche lightly. Go back to college, high school, or even grade school in your mind and dig deeply for that one subject that really spoke to you. Recall which classes you excelled at as well as the ones you almost flunked out of. If you are a college alumnus or even have a few college credits under your belt that’s a huge plus, as it’s likely you can already identify the subjects you’ve mastered. Select one to two subjects you’re well-versed in and brush up on them. It might help to quiz yourself to make sure you’re up to par. Stay informed as to state and federal school curriculum and syllabi so that you know you’re in compliance at all times, and if you plan on hiring others to tutor under your supervision, require these same qualities of all candidates.
- Think Things Through
There’s no better way to combat stress and avoid over-extension than by having a well-structured business plan. Jumping in head-first sounds exciting but is highly inadvisable; that’s because lack of direction can trump your own efforts to reach goals, maximize profits and make progress, no matter your rate of acceleration. Sit down with a pen and paper and answer the important questions first. What are your goals? How big do you want your business to get and how far do you want it to go? What services will you offer, how will you deliver them and how will you reach your customers? Define goals, determine how you’ll accomplish them and establish reasonable milestones for implementation of your strategy. By doing so, you won’t bite off more than you can chew and you’ll have a reliable means of charting progress.
- Remain Professional at All Times
Always treat your business like a business. You’ll want to maintain an image of professionalism every time you interact with a client. Working from home has a way of melding personal and professional matters together whether you try to or not, but if you make an effort to keep the two separate you’ll have better focus and appoint your business with the air of seriousness it deserves. Separate business calls and personal calls by investing in a dedicated business line with its own voice mail system. Similarly, keep business funds separate from your checking account by opening up a business bank account. Register your business if you intend on hiring employees, and make sure you’re up to date with all federal and state licensing regulations to legally operate. Print up business letterhead and business cards, create a website, and secure a quiet, dedicated office space for good record-keeping.
- Establish Solid Pay Terms
It’s wise to solidify pay terms prior to client interaction, because you don’t want there to be any surprises for your clients or yourself. Figure up your rates, method of payment, deadline for payment, invoicing procedures, cancellation policy and any other fees or rules you might have. Print everything up as a small client contract and keep multiple copies in stock at all times. Use invoice software or templates to create invoices that can be conveniently issued by email, or purchase the old-fashioned kind and snail-mail them out.
- Be Efficient and Productive
Refrain from engagement in non-business related activities by sticking to work during “work time.” This means making every hour spent with a client or student count during a tutoring session. Being productive is especially important as a tutor, because parents are well aware of the extra expenses they’re incurring by receiving one-on-one help for their children and expect to see quick results. It’s tempting to splurge when you’re excited about your shiny new business, but hold back the urge. A tutoring business has very low start-up costs so there’s no reason to spend a fortune on frivolous items. Conserve what you can initially and seek out discounts when possible.
- Stay Positive
Successes and failures are forged in the mind. It’s cheesy, but you can if you think you will and you won’t if you think you can’t. All small businesses face slow times and yours is not excluded. Stay pumped up about your accomplishments when the going gets tough and always put a positive spin on your circumstances. Boost morale until you reach peak business again by keeping your eye on the bigger picture.
- Make Your Presence Known
Marketing, marketing and more marketing; it’s the tried and trusted way to stay visible and attract customers. Take out ad space in the local paper or online, keep a professional website up and running to display credentials and business information in the virtual world, pass out business cards, send out mailers, utilize social networking websites, and cold call or visit schools and universities.
- Know Your Worth
Before you decide what you won’t earn, do your research. One of the greatest pitfalls of running a business is pegging yourself as a low-wage earner. Speak with other tutors in your area and see what they’re charging. Visit tutoring business websites and determine the going rate for tutoring in different subjects. Don’t charge less than what you’re worth and don’t waver on your prices.