Starting a Tutoring Side Business

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Providing educational services to students of all kinds is an increasingly lucrative endeavor for entrepreneurs. Based on the best estimates, the tutoring industry in the United States is worth at least $11 billion per year. The total global market for tutoring is expected to exceed $100 billion by 2018. It goes without saying that there’s plenty of money to be made if you can carve out a space for yourself in the business. If you’d like to make a mint with a tutoring outfit of your own, use the following rubric to guide your efforts.

Figure Out Your Primary Niche

First, it’s imperative that you settle on an initial sector of the tutoring business in which to specialize. Possible niches might include special needs children, gifted youngsters or K-12 students taking statewide assessment exams. You might also try to focus on high school students that are prepping for the SATs or ACTs. Even if you’re not a doctor or a lawyer, you can tutor students taking the MCAT and LSAT exams with a little training. The point is that there’s no shortage of tutoring options to exploit.

Come Up with a Business Plan

Obviously, you’ll have to figure out exactly how you’ll structure your business in the near future. For instance, there’s the question of whether you’ll tutor students in person or remotely over the web via apps like Skype. If your operation is going to be an on-the-ground type, decide how far you’re willing to travel to tutor clients. You can flesh out the details later as long as you do your research and come up with a game plan most likely to work for you.

Secure the Appropriate Resources

Ultimately, knowledge and experience will be the tools that are most critical to your success in the tutoring field. The National Tutoring Association is an excellent resource for beginners that are trying to establish themselves in a competitive field. For specific tutoring niches, there are thousands of great sites and companies online that sell lesson plans. For example, Lesson Tutor and Lesson Pathways are terrific options for those that tutor elementary school students. Set up an office at your home, in a rented commercial space or at a co-working office. You could even meet with students at your local library.

Do the Paperwork Early On

During the brainstorming phase, come up with a good name for your tutoring business. It should convey authority and competence but also be catchy and easy to remember. Trademark your company name and logo when you form an LLC or other corporate entity to reduce your tax liabilities. Naturally, you’ll need an EIN if you plan on hiring tutors to work for you. While it’s unlikely that zoning regulations and ordinances will be an issue, check with the local chamber of commerce and municipal governments to ensure that there are no unexpected bureaucratic hurdles to clear.

Get Certified & Credentialed

Though it’s not a requirement, it might be a good idea to obtain tutor certification from a well-known organization. The American Tutoring Association offers training and respected credentials for would-be tutors. You can play up your pedigree and education when attracting clients if you’re going to be instructing students personally. If you’re going to be hiring underlings, it’s best to lean towards tutors that have certifications themselves. Though pieces of paper will no doubt impress many potential clients, the results that you can deliver will be what sells your services.

Get the Ball Rolling Organically

Sooner or later, you’ll need to actually start instructing students and fine-tuning your operation. It’s best to start slowly and grow your company gradually. Begin by tutoring family members, friends and even co-workers. This will help you to build confidence as a tutor and gather feedback from initial clients. You might consider offering your services for free or at a greatly discounted rate to entice those first few students. A trial period of a few weeks or a month will help you to finalize the details of your business plan.

Build a Network of Business Contacts

The surest path to success in the tutoring game is compiling a deep roster of peers that can send clients your way. Attend various functions for local educators in your region and introduce yourself to guidance counselors and teachers. It’s also a smart idea to develop contacts within the broader tutor community. You can refer business to them if your expertise doesn’t exactly line up with the needs of specific clients. They can likewise refer potential clients of theirs to you if the situation warrants it.

Promote Yourself to the Public

Once you’ve established plenty of peer and referral contacts, you can work on going after new customers directly. Building a professional flagship website for your business that can act as an online landing page is a must. Flesh out profiles on the usual social media hubs like Facebook and Twitter and post links to your site and its rich blog content to promote the brand. Using portals like Yelp and Google+ Local to elicit user reviews that can be perused by the general public is essential if you wish to attract maximum interest.

Optimize Prices for Top Profits

Settling into an intelligent pricing groove that maximizes revenue while rapidly attracting a large customer base is the toughest nut to crack. While most parents wouldn’t think twice about paying $70 or more per hour for topnotch tutoring, it’s unlikely that you’ll command those rates right off the bat. Increasing your rates gradually as your reputation grows is the smart way to avoid turning off potential clients. Begin with a fairly cut-rate pricing model if you’re a solo tutor and move towards higher fees as your clout increases.

Taking It to the Next Level

Making real money in the tutoring game requires either horizontal or vertical expansion. In the former case, you might work on bumping up your tutoring expertise and learning to mentor students in an array of fields. You might also diversify your efforts by writing e-books or creating online courses for other aspiring tutors. In the latter case, you’d typically pay other tutors to do the extra work and manage the higher-level details of the operation. Any tutoring side business can take off quickly in unexpected ways with a little vision and dedication.

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