If you’re a driven self-starter that excites at the thought of holding the reigns to your career, read on to discover what it takes to start your home tutoring service.
Implement a Sound Business Plan
The best-laid plans are well-laid plans. Before pursuing a tutoring career you need to devise a strategy and give yourself a running start. Get things off the ground by setting up milestones to prevent burnout and stay motivated. One of the most detrimental things to the success of any small business is a lack of confidence. Establish reasonable monthly earnings quotas and refrain from viewing losses in a negative light. Have patience, for even the most successful businesses have had their share of slow times. First, determine where you will teach. Tutors can offer services within their own homes or accommodate their students by going to them. Print invoices and customer contracts before offering your services. Documentation of income is crucial for taxation purposes and contracts protect you from being shorted or stiffed on payments.
Decide on Your Niche and Market
In the world of tutoring, it is well known that each tutor generally offers expertise in one to three highly specific subject areas. For grades K through 12, a larger variety of generalized subjects may be taught. For high school and college courses, however, it is recommended that you determine your strong point and establish a niche. For example, some tutors prefer math courses and select from algebra, geometry, or calculus, while others’ capabilities lie in the realm of science subjects like biology, chemistry, or Earth science. Once you have determined which subjects you are most confident teaching, ask yourself which grade level you would feel most comfortable assisting.
Create a Portfolio
Every employer requires credentials and there’s no exception when it comes to small business clients. Creating a portfolio is the next step and a great way to assign yourself that “awe” factor clients crave. Create a personal website on which you will display your credentials, resume, experience, and testimonials if available, even if it isn’t as fancy as you’d like it to be initially. Establishing a web presence shows ingenuity and is one of the best ways to market and grow your business. List all relevant teaching, tutoring, and volunteer experience that you have. Go ahead and create a physical portfolio, as well: You’ll need it for offline marketing purposes.
Determine Your Rates
Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to rates. Hop online for a quick Internet search and see what the “big dogs” are charging, or search for local tutors and start calling around to gauge the going rate. Average rates vary based on a few factors, such as geographical location, subject taught, and subject level or grade level. One of the most convenient pricing methods is the packaging. Offer package deals by quoting for set chunks of time and ask for an upfront payment. If cancellation is necessary, assess reasonable cancellation fees and issue payment refunds. On average, tutors set their rates between 15 to 50 dollars per hour, but the amount you’ll make is almost always directly related to the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate.
Market Your Services
Remember that nifty website you created? Attract offline clients by creating business cards that include your business name, contact information, and a direct link to your website. Hand out business cards to friends and family and ask them to pass them out to their friends, family, and co-workers. Create mailers and attach your business cards, then place them in local mailboxes. Visit family-owned businesses in your neighborhood and ask them to display your business cards in exchange for a small favor or offer to help them advertise their services. Another effective way to attract business locally is by creating fliers with tear-off phone numbers. Tack the fliers to a convenience store, laundry mat, or college campus billboards. Additionally, present your resume to school teachers, principals, and counselors. Taking out ads in the paper can produce quick results, but if you’re worried about expenses place an ad on Craigslist.com, and don’t underestimate the power of social networking sites such as Facebook.com.
By no means are you required to have a college-level education to tutor, but it helps. If you’re lacking experience don’t fret. Current college students can beef up their resumes by participating in paid or volunteer peer tutoring services. Earn your stripes by offering your services to the children of friends and family members, or try your hand at tutoring online. There are hundreds of online tutoring websites offering part-time and full-time tutoring positions, and many don’t require the completion of a degree program. Tutor.com, for example, accepts applicants based on subject and written exams as well as the successful completion of a background check. Once accepted, applicants may teach in one or more approved subject areas and are given flexible scheduling options. Once you get that first client it’s all uphill. Proving that you can turn failing grades into “A”s is usually astonishing enough to earn you excellent word-of-mouth – and turn on the valve to consistent tutoring jobs.
Tips on How to Start 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.
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 deep 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 a 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 the 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.
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.
If you’re book smart, enjoy helping others learn and grow, and are looking for a way to share your knowledge while either supplementing your current income or embarking on a new career path, beginning a home tutoring service could be just the thing to scratch that brainy itch of yours. In addition to being adept in one or more specialty areas, such as math, science, history, or English, it helps to possess great communication skills and the ability to translate tricky concepts into terms understandable by children. You’ll be encouraged to pull out some creative stops to hold your students’ attention, fuel their desire to learn, and encourage information retention. Ultimately, successful tutors implement teaching strategies that mold their students into fully-independent learners: You’ll teach them to think, draw conclusions and grasp complex concepts on their own.