Setting up on your own teaching business can be an incredibly rewarding experience as you get to be your own boss and have much more control over your schedule. However, setting up a small business, whether as a teacher or coach, does come with numerous challenges as you have to learn to do your own marketing, sales, understand regulations and accounting, among others. Read our guide to make sure you understand how to do those things well and get to focus on doing what you love and growing your business.
Get together a Plan
A plan is absolutely essential as it forces you to write down and read back through why you think it is a good idea to start your teaching business. If you are in the rare situation where you have a packed schedule of clients from day one without this stage then that is fantastic, but you still need to write that plan. You need to distill on paper why you are being so successful so that if demand drops off in future, you can utilise that information to generate business.
As part of that plan the first step is understand the macro, micro and meso environments. These may sound like grand terms, but they are equally relevant to small businesses as they are large ones.
A macro analysis means to look at political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal (PESTEL) factors that might affect your business at the present time and moving forward. They are important because legislation can affect your industry. Economic downturn will likely lead to a drop off in demand for less essential services. And changes in technology can mean you have to think of a different way to offer your services.
For example, you might find that the government is offering bursaries or apprenticeships in your area. This tells you that it may be a good idea to open your business and informs how you make your product and who you target. Or it might be that you were initially planning to teach in your local area. However, social and technological changes have meant that it is now a viable opportunity to teach online and your students can be anywhere in the world.
The meso environment simply refers to the competition. You need to understand exactly who your competitors are, how they are offering their services, their pricing, and what is happening in your industry. What do I mean by the last point? If there is a lot of consolidation happening with large companies and marketplaces starting to dominate your industry, you have to consider if, or how, it will be possible to compete with them.
In the last of the three, the micro environment, this means understanding your strengths and weaknesses. This is important because it helps you again to identify ways to be more competitive. For example, it may be that you don’t have the same amount of experience or level of qualifications as most of the teachers in your areas. But you do excel at dealing with children, or teaching popular music, or using online software. Knowing these things mean that you may decide to focus on one of these areas and then get that across clearly in your messaging. Remember, running a business can be a matter of fine margins. You always have competitors, so you need to utilize your time and budget most effectively.
Consumers don’t respond in a uniform way to your services. They want different things from a product based on income, gender, age – among others – and they also need to be sold to in different ways. You should know this because there are so many kinds of car models on the market. Each catering to those different tastes – as there are smartphones and other products.
When you are setting up a teaching business, it is still important to think about these things. For example, you may be deciding to set up as a Spanish teacher. When you do so you may find that there is demand for learning Spanish from the older generation who want to retire in Spain and from students who need to pass their exams. Once you know that you can tailor the content of the course, its positioning, the tone of the language you use, and how and where you do promotion to either focus on one group or another – depending on your strengths. It is a proven fact that people respond to personalised messaging and are turned off by generic ones.
Once you have completed the above you should have a list of factors and you should perform a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), meaning you take those factors and assess them in terms of the above criteria. If you have done the above well, the way that is best for your business, should stand out. For those who are skeptical about the need for the above I would suggest writing down who you thought your customers and your services were first and see if it is the same after. Alternatively, google the reasons for why businesses fail.
When you have got all the above together and the evidence tells you that you have a viable business opportunity, the next step is to create buyer personas. This means write down exactly who your target customer is, what they care about, their challenges and how you can find them. This will help you in the next step, promotion. It will help because promotion takes money and time and you need to make sure it is thought through, and is on message, to ensure you don’t run of budget before you attract a sufficient number of customers.
Promotion is an absolute necessity for any business. You will have competitors and therefore you need to make sure you are heard above the noise.
You should learn about the channels available, pricing, and tie that back into your buyer persona and the segments you have chosen to market to. For example, while Facebook may be the best option for local search, it might be that your target users aren’t on that platform. It might be that your competitors are spending lots of money on ads and you can’t compete. In which case it may be better to choose partnerships – If you are offering music lessons try to go to a school or a music shop and see if they can refer customers to you.
Marketing is a complex subject and you also need to learn about multichannel marketing, the buyer journey, types of content for each stage of the buyer journey and the nuances of successfully running campaigns on each of these channels. But it is worth it because it means you will get more customers and be better able to grow your business.
There are numerous marketplace sites where student can find a tutor. Tutor Hunt and My Tutor and two in an ever-expanding number of platforms. The advantages of which are they do the marketing for use in the sense of promoting themselves to students. But the disadvantages are that there are many, many teachers now on the sites, reputation is everything, and so it will even take time for you to build up your reviews and business. They also take a percentage.
There are so many of these sites, it is best to first do your research to find out if one is more appropriate for your profession or area. You may find it is best to follow a dual strategy of setting up and building your own teaching business and utilising these sites.
Branding and a story around you are crucial. Invest in a logo and branded T-shirts etc. These items are essential to give a professional appearance and for advertising. If you are visiting clients and their neighbours see your brand then it can lead to more customers.
You get easily get logos done and t-shirts printed on sites like 99Designs. It is really easy and not very expensive. This is also the case for a website with companies like Wix, enabling you to drag and drop – no programming required – to create your own site.
You want to be able to focus on delivering your service to your customers, therefore, it is important to get technology in place to support you with your marketing, sales, accounting, delivering your service, and collecting payments.
At present you may have to teach online, meaning you need to choose between Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or any one of the other video conferencing solutions in the market. A CRM system can help with managing your leads and customers. And a chatbot can help to improve your customer service and respond faster to customer enquiries.
Offering your customers their preferred payment solution is key with many preferring to use card payments. This is not only the case compared to cash, but also compared to bank transfers. If you are invoicing your customers, embedded payment links which allow them to pay by card are much more convenient than having to make a bank transfer, meaning you are more likely to get paid quicker.
Once you earn over £1000 a year your business needs to be registered for tax. You have a number of set up options:
Sole trader – This is the easiest and most straightforward choice, but you personally are responsible for any losses.
Limited company – This takes a little longer to setup and has more reporting and management responsibilities, but your company is responsible for your debt not you.
Partnership – This is the best option if there are several of you doing this together.
You can find out more here.
In all cases, you need to pay tax through self-assessment and you will need to keep accounts of your income and expenses. There are specialist accountancy software packages that can help you with this as will the payment software mentioned above through automatic recording of all invoices.
For many years, and for good reason, reviews are an essential component of getting a potential customer over the line and to sign up. There are numerous places to collect reviews: your website, your Facebook page, your Google Business Page and on sites like Trustpilot. Your customers won’t want to post on all these sites so think about which one is your primary source of leads. In addition, see if it is possible to sync them across all your channels.
Tip: One solution would be to take the reviews from one channel and turn it into a graphic that you can then post everywhere.
You should not just get a budget together for promotion but for your business in general. You may not have a lot of capital expenditure on equipment but you will have travel and insurance costs, your mortgage payments, and a buffer of a few months to cover living while you build up your business.
Finalising Your Plan
Once you have done all the above you should have a final plan for setting up your teaching business. This may seem a lot of work but remember what the old adage about life being one percent inspiration and 99% perspiration. Execution is key for making a success of your business and a plan helps with that.
Hoof’s focus is to serve that field service and tradesperson sector. With our solution you get a notification if the quote was accepted or not. This gives you the opportunity to amend or easily convert it into an invoice. This functionality saves you a lot of time and ensures you can respond in a timeframe that makes the difference between winning and losing business.