While teaching can be a gratifying profession, the formal classroom is sometimes just not the right setting. With the large class sizes, rigid curricula, and demanding schedules, many people with a passion for teaching find that schools are the last place they want to be working.
Starting your own tutoring business can be a great way to make a living doing what you love on your own terms. You’ll get to teach one-on-one, set your own schedule, and choose your own location. Best of all, you’ll get the satisfaction of nurturing along your private students and helping them reach their full potential.
Starting a tutoring business isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, though. There are a number of challenges: you’ll need to handle all the business aspects of it yourself. That means keeping your own books and dealing with licensing and insurance. You’ll also need to market your business so you can bring in enough clients to make a living.
Think you might be up for the challenge? In this post, we’ll discuss how to start your own tutoring business, including some pointers on how to start a tutoring business from home.
Most states don’t require certification to be a tutor. That’s why college students can make an extra buck or two by helping local kids with their homework. But if you want your tutoring business to be successful, you need to be qualified, knowledgeable and skilled. The more credentials you have, the more value you offer your students – and the more you can charge them for your expertise.
Having a bachelor’s or graduate degree means you have sufficient knowledge in a particular field, but knowing how to teach that information effectively is a separate set of skills. Getting certified as a tutor helps you acquire those skills and shows your clients that you are serious about your business. Organizations such as the National Tutoring Association or American Tutoring Association have tutor certification programs.
How to Set Up a Tutoring Business: Structure & Bookkeeping
One of the first things to consider when setting up a tutoring business is the structure. It may seem simplest to register your business as a sole proprietorship – a business structure where there is no legal difference between you and the business entity. However, running a business this way means that if anything goes wrong, your personal assets might be in danger. Setting up as a corporation such as an LLC separates you from your business and protects your assets. The downside is that it requires more paperwork and setup fees.
You’ll also need to find out if your state requires a business license. As a freelance tutor, you’ll need to file your own taxes with the IRS. How exactly to do so and which tax forms you’ll need depend on your business structure. Speak to your accountant about your options, and make sure to know at least some basic small business bookkeeping yourself.
Choosing a Location
Working one-on-one or in small groups means you don’t need a large space or special equipment. This gives you a lot of flexibility. When you’re just starting out, it’s probably best to work from home or from your clients’ homes to keep overhead costs down.
If you’d like to tutor at your home, you’ll need to check with your local authority about zoning laws. There may be restrictions on running certain types of business in your neighborhood. If there are, you can request a variance.
Most tutors do home visits. This is most convenient for the student. It might be easier for you, too, if your living space is cramped or otherwise unsuitable. If you do travel to teach your clients, you’ll need to make sure you’re charging enough to cover any travel costs.
If neither of these options will work, you might be able to meet your students in an unused room in a local school or library. You’ll need to obtain permission from the managers of these institutions.
Another option is to rent a space yourself. This might be a better option if you’re concerned you won’t have the quiet you need in other locations. If your business grows enough to employ more tutors, you might need a space for multiple classes taught in parallel.
Getting insurance is a very important step in setting up any business. Business insurance helps protect you and your business in case anything goes wrong. You may not think of tutoring as a particularly risky profession, but if a client trips on your front steps and breaks a wrist, you want to be sure your business is covered and your client will be able to receive the medical care she needs. Having tutor insurance shows any potential clients that you are serious about your business and that you care about your clients’ welfare.
Building a Tutoring Business Plan
Before you get started, it’s important to draw up a business plan. The plan should detail your vision for your business and all the steps you need to take to make it a reality. The first step is deciding on the structure of your business, as detailed above. The second step is deciding what service you will offer – and to whom. Some ideas:
- Enrichment on topics that aren’t covered in school
- Remedial education for students who have fallen behind in reading or math
- Extra help for immigrant students still struggling with English
- Supplementary classes for gifted students
- Preparation classes for standardized tests, such as the SAT
When choosing a niche, consider both your own strengths and knowledge, and what might be missing in the local market. Ideally, you should be offering a service that is unique, and that you are uniquely qualified to offer.
Marketing Your Business
Once you’ve found your niche and target audience, you can come up with a marketing plan. Tutors often find that the best marketing is word of mouth, but no one can recommend you if they don’t know about you yet. So what’s the best way to spread the word? Speaking to local parents? Flyers in local schools? Offering free classes at a community library? Write down all the ideas you can come up with and start thinking about how you can implement them.
Starting your own tutoring business might involve some extra paperwork and planning, but you’re sure to find it very rewarding.
For more information about how insurance can protect your business and help it thrive, visit our Tutor Insurance page.