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What is a Tutoring business?
Tutoring can be a rewarding and lucrative small or large business. You could set up a tutoring business as a full-time career, or as a part-time salary supplement.
Many people think that tutors are teachers, and although they are similar roles, there are some important distinctions:
|Teach students 1:1 or in small groups.||Teach large groups of students at one time.|
|More flexible working hours, including evenings and weekends.||Work within regular school hours.|
|Offer tailored lessons based on the students’ needs.||Teach the national curriculum.|
|Formal qualifications may not be required.||Formal qualifications are essential.|
|Individual learning goals.||Group or class learning goals.|
|Offer flexible teaching materials.||Offer set teaching materials.|
|Are usually paid privately by the student or family.||Are usually paid by the school or government.|
A tutoring business may have one tutor (the business owner) who provides a tutoring service to different clients. Alternatively, tutoring businesses can have a repertoire of tutors that teach a variety of subjects to students of differing ages and abilities.
Tutors can specialise in specific subjects or offer broader educational teaching. Some teaching experiences offered by tutors include:
- General primary school education.
- Secondary school education focused on a specific subject such as Maths or Biology.
- A-Level tutoring focused on a specific subject.
- Undergraduate or postgraduate tutoring.
- English as an Additional Language for students of a variety of ages and abilities.
- Tutoring in a musical instrument, such as piano or violin.
- Tutoring in art, music or sport.
As a tutoring business, you will need to offer your students tailored sessions and individualised teaching techniques and materials. Your business can help your students with a specific subject, project or skill.
When setting up your tutoring business, you will need to decide whether you are going to be the sole tutor or whether you will hire other tutors.
A tutoring business could be a potential career opportunity for a variety of people, including college or university students, practising or retired teachers, people with a degree in a specific subject, and other professionals.
In order to succeed as a tutor, you will need to have excellent or specialist knowledge of a specific subject, patience and the ability to teach students. You will also need to have the necessary materials or the ability to create the materials required for tutoring, and the commitment to your students.
Types of Customers
Tutors usually teach their students in an extra-curricular manner. This provides extra support to the students, usually in a 1:1 capacity.
Your tutoring business can offer tuition in a huge number of subjects, including:
|English as an Additional Language||Primary School Education (broad)||Primary Education (specific subjects)||English Language and/or Literature|
|Maths||Sciences (Biology, Chemistry or Physics)||Foreign Languages (e.g. French)||Social Sciences (e.g. Psychology)|
|Religious Studies||Computers and IT||Geography||History|
|Drama and Acting||Arts||Musical Instruments||Sports or Dance|
Individual subjects can be taught at a variety of levels including:
- Primary Education.
- Secondary Education.
- Further Education (e.g. A-Levels or an apprenticeship).
- Undergraduate level.
- Postgraduate level.
You may also target customers who are studying for specific exams. This could include:
- Grammar school entrance exams.
- The 11 Plus exam.
- Musical instrument grade examination.
- A drama exam, such as LAMDA.
- International language qualification.
- The Cambridge English examinations.
As tuition can be expensive, your typical customers will be those who are willing to pay the additional costs associated with extra-curricular education.
Some of your students may stay with you long-term, whereas others may only study with you for a shorter time, in preparation for an exam.
Equipment You Will Need
A tutoring business usually has very few equipment requirements. The equipment you will need will depend on the type of tutoring business you set up.
An online-only tutoring business will have fewer equipment requirements compared to a face-to-face tutor. Tutors of different subjects will also have different equipment requirements.
You will therefore need to decide the type of tutoring business you are going to run before purchasing equipment.
Some equipment you may require includes:
Your writing supplies will need to be continuously replenished. You may need to purchase paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, rubbers, pencil sharpeners, highlighters and rulers. Writing supplies are usually very affordable. A full set of supplies will likely cost between £20 and £30.
You will need books that can be used for references and research by both you and your students. Your books should focus on the subject or subjects you teach. Choosing books that support the national curriculum (if you tutor school-aged students) is recommended.
A computer or laptop
A computer will be needed for a variety of purposes. You can use it to manage your website, manage your appointments and schedule, create lesson plans and prepare your lesson materials. You can also utilise a computer as part of your tutoring lessons. The cost of a computer/laptop can vary depending on the make and model. You should expect to pay a minimum of £300.
You will need a printer to print off materials, worksheets and learning resources. A printer can be purchased for as little as £40.
You can choose to buy or make your lesson materials and resources. Different materials will be used depending on the subjects you tutor and the age of your students. Some materials could include flashcards, educational toys and games, and posters.
Business cards are an important marketing tool. They should include your business name, the subject or subjects you tutor and your contact information. Business cards are a fairly affordable marketing tool and can cost between £15 and £200 for 500 cards, depending on the material used, the quality of the finish, and the design.
If you choose to set up a tutoring centre, you will have significantly more equipment requirements:
You will need premises to run your tutoring business from. A tutoring centre will usually require a building that has multiple classrooms and a reception area. In order to maximise your business and increase your number of students, your centre should be located in a city or town centre or in an area that is easily accessible to students. Alternatively, you can base your tutoring centre in a residential area with a high concentration of your target customer base.
Some of the furniture you will need will be tables and chairs for students, a reception area and desk, and bookshelves. The amount of furniture you will need will depend on the size of your centre and the number of students you predict you will have. You can expect to spend between £500 and £5,000 on furniture.
Some of the teaching equipment you may require in your tutoring centre includes:
- Marker pens
- A projector
- Laptop(s) or computer(s)
Cleaning equipment is an essential requirement for your tutoring business, especially as you will likely teach multiple students in one day. A clean and tidy centre will also make your business more attractive to students and their families. Some equipment you will need to invest in include a sweeping brush, a mop, cleaning products, cloths and sponges.
You may also require different equipment depending on the subject you are tutoring in. Some examples include:
A Maths tutor
Maths requires specific types of equipment. You may need to purchase calculators, protractors, squared paper, compasses, abacuses, cubes, demonstration clocks and money, and counting rods.
A Geography tutor
You may require maps, atlases, globes, measuring tapes, clinometers, anemometers, weather vanes, gradiometers, and soil samplers. Your equipment requirements will vary depending on the age and level of your students and the topics you teach.
A Music tutor
Some music tutors specialise in musical instruments, whereas others tutor singing. Some of your equipment requirements may include musical instruments, sheet music, instrument cases, stands, microphones, headphones, speakers, and music software.
A tutoring business is a low-cost enterprise. However, it is still important that you calculate the approximate costs associated with starting up a tutoring business.
Some typical costs you can expect to pay include:
As mentioned above, your equipment requirements and expected costs can vary depending on the type of tutoring business you run. You can expect to pay between £100 and £5,000 for your equipment. If you open a tutoring centre, your equipment costs will be significantly higher.
Replacing equipment and replenishing materials
You will have to replenish your materials regularly. Different topics will have different teaching materials. You will also have to replenish materials such as paper and pencils regularly. It is recommended that you allocate a minimum of £50 per month for replacing, repairing and replenishing equipment.
Advertising and marketing
Advertising is a great tool for growing your customer base. It is particularly important when you are first setting up your business and don’t have many students. You should spend no more than 10% of your annual revenue on advertising costs. As your business grows, you may attract new students from word of mouth recommendations, allowing you to reduce your advertising costs.
As your business grows, you may hire additional tutors who can offer lessons in different subjects or offer online tutoring. The amount you will pay your staff will likely depend on their tutoring experience and qualifications. If you employ your staff as freelancers, this will likely reduce the costs. However, if you offer them standard employment contracts, you may also need to account for holiday pay, sick pay, maternity/paternity pay, and National Insurance.
Your website or tutoring platform
You may set up a website for advertising purposes or an online platform that allows you to offer online and video lessons. The associated costs can vary depending on the design and complexity of your website and whether you also need to pay for someone to run your website.
Some of the insurance you may require includes Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, Portable Equipment cover, Contents and Equipment cover, Buildings cover, Employers’ Liability, Business Interruption and Cyber Cover. You can expect to pay between £12 and £100 a month, depending on the type and level of coverage and the number of employees and students you have.
When calculating the typical costs associated with your tutoring business, you will also need to consider the typical prices you will charge your students.
When calculating your prices, there are several factors that will impact your charges:
- The subject you teach.
- The age of your students.
- The level of teaching (for example, postgraduate students will likely pay more than primary-level students).
- Your equipment requirements.
- What you provide to your students (for example, if you offer your students the use or loaning of your musical instruments, you will likely charge higher prices).
- Whether the tutoring takes place face-to-face or online.
- Where you are located.
Typically, tutors in the UK charge between £20 and £60 per hour.
Safely Running a Tutoring Business
As many of your students will be children or young people, it is imperative that you safely run your tutoring business.
Some safety procedures or actions you could implement include:
Conducting risk assessments
Although a risk assessment is not a legal requirement if you have less than five employees, it can help to reduce any hazards or risks associated with your business. As part of your risk assessments you should:
- Identify any hazards.
- Determine who could be at risk.
- Evaluate any potential risks.
- Implement safety measures.
- Record the results of the risk assessment.
- Review the risk assessment regularly.
Ensure hygiene and cleaning procedures are followed
This will only apply if you offer face-to-face tutoring. Ensure your own personal hygiene includes following safe handwashing procedures at all times. You should also clean equipment such as rulers, calculators and pens that are touched by multiple students. If you run a tutoring centre, implement a cleaning schedule and relevant procedures. Effective handwashing and cleaning can help to protect the health and safety of you and your students.
Implement emergency procedures
Emergency procedures could include what to do if a student becomes seriously ill or injured. You should also consider fire safety procedures.
Ensure the environment is safe
Are there any potential risks in the teaching environment? Are all materials appropriate for the student? If you tutor in the student’s home, you should ensure you leave the door to the room open and that another adult is within hearing distance.
Recognising signs of abuse
As you will have close, regular contact with students and will also have access to their homes and families, you and all your employees should be trained on recognising signs of abuse or neglect. It is also important that you know how to respond to and report any concerns.
There are relatively few legal requirements associated with a tutoring business. The legal requirements may also vary depending on whether you are running an online or in-person business.
Some of the legal requirements you should be aware of include:
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
A DBS check will be required for you and any staff you employ. You can apply for the DBS check online and it usually takes up to 14 days to receive your certificate. A DBS check confirms that you have no criminal convictions which mean you are unable to work with children and other vulnerable individuals.
Register as self-employed with HMRC
Starting up a tutoring business as an individual or as a self-employed person requires you to register as a sole trader. You will need to register the name of your business and keep records of all your income, profits and expenses.
Register for self-assessment tax
This allows you to calculate and pay your taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.
Comply with employment legislation
If you employ any staff as part of your tutoring business, you will need to ensure you comply with employment legislation relating to recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination and dismissals.
Abide by health and safety legislation
You are responsible for the health and safety of your students and any employees. Consult the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for information on how to make your workplace safe, ensure you comply with the law and reduce any risks.
Some types of insurance will be legally required, such as legal indemnity insurance, whereas other types of insurance are optional.
Positives of Owning a Tutoring Business
Whether you operate your tutoring business full time or part time, it can be very rewarding in a number of ways.
Some positive aspects to starting up a tutoring business are:
Choose your own schedule
You can choose to work part time or full time, set hours or varying hours. Some tutors work in the evenings and weekends, whereas others work in the afternoon when school is over for the day. If you tutor adults, you may even be able to work during the day.
Very low start-up costs
The start-up costs associated with setting up a tutoring business are minimal. You can likely make many of the materials yourself and advertise your business online or via leaflets. This makes starting up a tutoring business easier and more achievable.
There are always students who are taking exams or require additional help with their education. Tutoring businesses are always in demand, especially if you are located in a city or other highly populated areas.
Tutoring can be a rewarding and enriching profession. Seeing your students learn, improve and succeed can be extremely rewarding. You will likely be interested in the subject you teach or passionate about your students which can make tutoring even more fulfilling.
Choose the students you tutor
As the business owner, you can pick and choose your own clients. You can choose the students you think will benefit most from your tutoring or those that are likely to be beneficial to your business.
You can meet different types of people and build strong professional relationships in your local community. This could result in customer loyalty where you teach the same students for several years or tutor several members of the same family. You may also receive customer recommendations that can help you to grow your business.
You are likely to have no or very few students during the school holidays, meaning you will get great holidays every year. If you wanted to work through the holidays, particularly in the summer, you could teach adults or set up a tutoring club.
Unlimited income potential
You can keep your tutoring business relatively small or grow it. If you want to grow your business, you could hire multiple tutors and even offer online tutoring. This will allow you to take on more students and will mean you are no longer limited to customers in your local area. This gives you the opportunity to make huge profits.
If you enjoy talking to people and working hands-on, tutoring could be a great profession for you. You will have direct contact with all your clients and teach them yourself.
You will have all of your appointments and lessons booked in ahead of time, meaning it is very easy to predict your profits and income.
Negatives of Owning a Tutoring Business
However, there are always disadvantages to starting your own business and a tutoring business is no exception.
Some potential cons of running a tutoring business include:
It may involve a lot of travel
Unless you set up a tutoring centre, which can be costly, you will likely need to travel to each student’s home for tutoring sessions. This can be time-consuming and mean you will need to account for travel expenses. You will lose time you could potentially spend teaching, especially if you have to account for rush-hour traffic or rely on public transport.
You may experience location difficulties
As you will likely be teaching at students’ homes, there will also be some variables you cannot control, such as noise and distractions. This could impact your teaching and the students’ ability to concentrate.
Work can be inconsistent
As mentioned earlier, you are likely to have considerably fewer students during school holidays. School holidays account for 12 weeks out of the year, which is a long time to have no income. You will have to earn additional profits during other times of the year to make up for the school holidays, which can be difficult.
Requires a time commitment
A tutoring business can require a high time commitment with unconventional teaching hours. You may have to work evenings and weekends which can interfere with your family and social life.
Lack of benefits
As you will be self-employed, you won’t have access to the usual employee benefits such as pension contributions and paid holidays and sick leave.
You will be responsible for the health and safety of the students while they are in your care. You could be tutoring very young students or those with health conditions. If you do not ensure their health and safety, you may be held responsible in the event of an injury or illness.
The students and their families will likely put a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. You will be expected to help students pass their exams and this can be very stressful. You will also be responsible for assessing progress, creating lesson plans and materials, and growing your business. This can be extremely stressful and time-consuming.
A lot of patience is required
You could be teaching young children who require a lot of patience, positivity and repetition and this can be tiring for you. You may also be repeating lessons multiple times with different students. As some of your lessons may take place in the evenings, some of your younger students may be tired and struggle to concentrate. This can make your job much harder.
Planning Your Tutoring Business
An effective well-designed business plan is essential to ensuring the success of your business.
There are several important considerations and decisions you will need to make when planning your business:
Decide which subject or subjects you will tutor.
When considering your tutoring subject, think about your qualifications and areas of expertise. You should also consider your local competition. For example, if there are already several successful maths tutors operating in your local area, it may be more profitable to choose a different subject.
Decide what type of tutoring business you are going to run.
Are you going to run a face-to-face or online tutoring business? Are you going to tutor in your students’ homes or set up a tutoring centre? Alternatively, you could choose to set up a tutoring agency and employ other tutors to teach a variety of subjects.
Determine your equipment requirements.
Once you have decided the type of tutoring business you are setting up and your chosen subject or subjects, you can then determine your equipment requirements. Shop around and buy some items in bulk to reduce the cost.
Consider who your typical students will be.
Identifying your target market can help you determine your advertising and marketing techniques. For example, if you tutor primary school education, you can advertise in schools in your local area and in local play centres, parks and cafes. Determining your student base can also help you to determine your equipment requirements and typical pricing.
Create a business budget.
Your business budget will include your start-up costs and your running costs. A budget can help you to better manage your business’s finances and maximise your profits. Creating a budget can also help you to determine if you can fund your tutoring business yourself or whether you need to source investment.
Determine your pricing.
You need to ensure your prices are competitive whilst still ensuring you are maximising your profits and income. Consider the prices charged by other tutoring businesses. Your pricing will also be influenced by your own experience and qualifications, where your business is located and the level of the students.
Decide your working hours.
This will affect the types of students who will choose your tutoring business. Tutors are most popular after school, in the evenings and at weekends.
Decide your business objectives.
Deciding your business objectives can help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year plan and can be pivotal to the success and growth of your tutoring business. Business objectives can help you with your marketing strategy and help you to implement actions that will help you to grow your student base and your business.
Your business objectives should be SMART:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Realistic
- T = Time-bound
Create a marketing and advertising strategy.
Marketing and advertising are especially important when you first launch your tutoring business. Your marketing strategy needs to be effective and budget-friendly. Consider your target audience and the best way to reach them.
Some ways you can market and advertise your business are:
- Build an impressive and attractive website and online portfolio.
- Create business cards.
- Offer discounted rates and introductory offers to build your student base.
- Ask your students to write a review of your business online.
- Set up a referral system.
- Advertise online and in-person.
Consider what your challenges are likely to be.
Being aware of any potential challenges your business will face can help you to prepare for them and hopefully avoid them. This can help to make your business more successful.
Set up your website.
Your website should be attractive and informative. It should provide all necessary information such as your qualifications, location, prices, teaching specialities, your business values and your contact information. You should also consider Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies to ensure your business is one of the highest results if somebody searches for a tutoring business in your area or fitting your speciality.
Comply with all legal requirements and determine and implement any necessary safety measures.
You must file all your paperwork and comply with all legal requirements before beginning to operate your tutoring business. Failure to comply with the legal requirements could result in delays in setting up your business, forced closure, or the incurrence of a fine. Implementing any safety measures not only ensures the health and safety of everyone involved, but safe practices will make your business more attractive to prospective parents.