How To Start A Tutoring Business And Tap Into A $102.8 Billion Industry

Private tutoring businesses are a great idea for first-time entrepreneurs. It is easy to set up, requires little to no startup capital, offers unlimited growth and provides excellent profit...

Photo: Sergio Zammit, Co-founder of FIN Ltd. and creator of The Fun Entrepreneur; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Sergio Zammit, Co-founder of FIN Ltd. and creator of The Fun Entrepreneur; Source: Courtesy Photo

The tutoring market is estimated to be worth $102.8 billion within two years, according to Global Industry Analysts, Inc., so that tutoring business you’ve been thinking of may need to shift to the top of your to-do list.

Private tutoring businesses are a great idea for first-time entrepreneurs. It is easy to set up, requires little to no startup capital, offers unlimited growth and provides excellent profit margins. Tutoring is in constant demand and that is good news for anyone considering starting their own tutoring business.

Starting up is easy and as long as you are sufficiently competent in at least one subject you have very few obstacles to get started.

Many people start a tutoring business on the side and, as it grows, give it their full-time attention. So, if you’re ready to get started, here’s a practical look at how to land you first 10 students.


1. Decide which subject(s) you’ll teach.

This will be your business (and not a hobby) therefore you must define your service offering correctly. What subjects will you tutor? To which level can you tutor prospective students? Will your students sit for exams following your tutorship or is your subject not included in formal education?

Answering these questions will help you define your services and, as a result, your target audience.

 Also consider how much time you are willing to dedicate to a private tutoring business. Remember, the time spent tutoring is only a fragment of your time investment. You must also allocate time to prepare and market your services.

To start a successful tutoring business you should set aside at least 20 hours each week. In the early stages, most of this time will be spent working towards getting more students to sign up.


2. Define your ideal customer.

Once you have settled on tutoring subjects and levels (i.e. your services) it’s time to clearly target your desired customers. Keep in mind, if you plan to tutor school children, especially those under 16, then consider their parents as primary customers. After all, their parents will be paying for your services.

List important points regarding your audience. For instance:


  • What time will they be at school or work?

  • How far are they willing to travel?

  • Would they prefer on-site tutoring instead?

  • Are they willing to participate in a group setting or do they prefer one on one sessions?

  • How often do they need tutoring?

  • Does this frequency increase when they need to reach specific milestones (e.g. exams, certifications, degrees, etc.)?

  • What rate will your audience willingly pay for your services?


The more questions you consider the better, since this will help you better market to your ideal tutoring customers.


3. Prepare tutoring materials.

The best way to achieve success is to prepare for it. Create the systems and tools you will need to be prepared for your first student. Consider preparing at least 3-4 lessons for each subject and level before you launch.


Photo: © berc, YFS Magazine
Photo: © berc, YFS Magazine

For example, some of the most successful tutoring businesses offer their own handouts. Think of handouts as marketing collateral for your business. Apart from including your contact details, a handout also gives the impression that you are competent and that your teaching style is student-friendly, fun and effective. The School On Wheels Charity website offers a great list of sources for handout inspiration.


4. Location, location, location.

An important factor for tutoring business success is your location and flexibility. If you decided that you will tutor on-site then what is the maximum distance you are willing to travel? If students come to your office, what is the general travel time they can expect within a specific city or town? Will you start by offering tutoring in your home, a local library, a quiet coffee shop or a rented classroom?


5. Open for business, now what?

It’s time to start promoting your tutoring business. Many first time tutors make the mistake on focusing on a tutoring website. Wait! There will be time for that. Websites are great, and a landing page with local SEO tactics is even better (at least for starters).

Focus on accessing local clients. Start by creating a Facebook Brand Page and a Google+ business profile. Keep it simple. Include your business contact details, set up a toll-free phone number or free Google Voice number (aside from your personal phone number), upload a professional head shot along with a relevant stock image and you’re ready!

Next, create a weekly content schedule and create posts (with an image and text) that offers information about your tutoring business, fun facts about the subjects you teach, and why students need tutoring, etc.

Once your social profiles have been up for a couple of days start researching groups where your audience is likely to be. Look for local school pages, local parents and PTA groups, local employment centers, etc.

The more social media groups you belong to the better. Then join conversations and share relevant information within these groups, but do not spam them! As you engage with the people in these groups you will build rapport and before long you will get to tutor your first student.


6. One is just the beginning.

Starting with one student you can build your tutoring business! A good way to grow your client base is to offer word of mouth and referral incentives. For example, if you charge $75 per lesson, offer a per lesson discount to the students/parents for every new client they refer.


To succeed in the tutoring business you need to build a solid reputation for offering excellent quality tutoring services. If you can do this then you have potential to grow your business organically with word of mouth. Parents talk amongst themselves, offline and online, and if their friend’s child is improving thanks to your tutoring skills, they will want you to help their own child too.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Sergio Zammit, creator of The Fun Entrepreneur, has been setting up businesses since the age of 16. The Fun Entrepreneur is dedicated to making it easier for those wishing to start their own business for the first time. They provide a wide range of articles to handle almost any challenge and opportunity which a startup founder will face. With over 16 years experience in startups, they offer their experience and knowledge to help you achieve your goals. Connect with @thefunentrep on Twitter.


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