A great many people in the UK aspire to set up their own tutoring business, and with so many benefits that come along with the job, it’s not particularly hard to see why. Tutoring is a very flexible profession; you can do it from home and you can do it to make some extra money in your free time. You also don’t need to be a qualified teacher to become a tutor. Many tutors simply use the knowledge they’ve gained from A-level or degree qualifications. Of course, most importantly, tutoring can be a very rewarding experience, and many who start out as part-time tutors end up making a career of it.
If you’re passionate about a subject, work well with young people, and have bags of enthusiasm then tutoring might just be the thing for you. But as with any other business, setting up a tutoring agency requires lots of preparation if you want to be profitable. To help you plan your start-up tutoring business we’ve put together these top tips for success in the industry – full marks guaranteed!
Research and planning
The first thing you need to do before starting up your tutoring business is to decide on what subject areas you’re going to teach in. This decision will most likely be based on your degree subject or A-level choices, depending on the age and level of the students you want to teach. Obviously the higher level of qualification you have, the higher level you will be able to teach, which in turn will provide you with a wider age range of students.
Planning is critical to the success of a tutoring business, and you’ll need to invest a lot of time into creating study plans that are tailored to the needs of each of your students. This will help to build your confidence as a teacher, whilst giving parents and their children a clear insight into what they will gain from your sessions.
One of the first steps in establishing a tutoring business is deciding on where you will conduct your sessions. Will you work from home, or will you go to your students’ houses? Working from home can have a great many advantages; you won’t have to spend money on travel costs and you’ll be able to fit in more sessions each day. On the other hand, parents of younger children may prefer that tuition takes place under their own roof, especially if they don’t know the tutor well.
Get the right equipment
Once you’ve decided which subject – or subjects – you’re going to teach, it is important that you familiarise yourself with its curriculum and exam papers, details of which you can find here. In this way, you can ensure that you tailor your sessions towards the content of what your student will be assessed on.
Other materials you’ll need include the most up-to-date textbooks you can find, as well as stationery and basic IT equipment. You may also want to invest in professional stationary such as business cards and letterheads, both of which will help you to establish yourself as a reputable and professional service.
Rules and regulations
Whilst the tutoring business is fairly free from regulation, a reputable individual or company will be registered with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and each tutor involved will be CRB checked. Many parents won’t be willing to hire a tutor for their child without seeing a CRB certificate, so it’s worth getting checked before you start your business.
If you’re planning on setting up an agency including tutors other than yourself, you may also want to consider the minimum qualification level you expect from the people you’re hiring. This will totally depend on the level of student you’ll be working with, but in order to provide a good-quality service, you might decide that tutors must be at least one or two qualification levels higher than their pupils.
The main way that people will hear about your tutoring business is through word-of-mouth recommendations, so maintaining a good reputation among your clients will be paramount to the success of your business. This means being committed to the success of each individual pupil and giving them the best experience possible, so don’t take on more students than you can realistically handle. To back up your reputation, ask any previous clients for references, but don’t worry if you’re only starting out; you could still get references of your ability from lecturers or teachers.
As well as gaining clients off the back of your reputation, you can promote your business through notices on boards in local schools, libraries and in the newspaper. Sending a letter to your local education authority may also be worthwhile as they could refer you to parents looking for a tutor. You may also want to consider setting up a website for your business, so that parents in the local area can easily find you.
Online Marketing and Social Media platforms can be excellent ways by which you can promote yourself. Getting to know how to correctly advertise in Facebook or Google can create powerful boosts for your business, and there are a number of companies that will teach you exactly how to do this, no matter what Industry you choose to start a business in. Build British Business often covers these types of topics in StartUps 101 and check out YouTube videos of real businesses that use Online Marketing effectively.
To work out how much you need to charge for lessons, try contacting other tutoring agencies and ask how much they charge. Within the range of prices they give, you should try to set yourself somewhere in the middle. The reason for this is that people are unlikely to hire you if you’re expensive but don’t have a reputation to back up the high fee, whereas pricing yourself too low may indicate a poor quality service to potential clients. As you develop a positive reputation, you can start to charge higher rates for new students.
As with any company, it is essential that you keep track of your income and any expenses you incur, either through your own records or using online accountancy software. You will also be able to claim expenses for on things like internet bills, travel expenses, office supplies and advertising, for tax-relief purposes. Contact HM Revenue and Customs to find out more about allowable expenses and the process of claiming.
Published Monday January 6, 2014