How to Start a Successful Tutoring Business in 8 Steps

A tutoring business can be great for passionate educators, but it requires planning. Discover 8 crucial steps to starting a successful tutoring business.

Compared to many other businesses, starting a tutoring business doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. Beyond your own expertise and knowledge, it requires very little upfront investment, but does require a bit of ground work to be successful. 

The biggest challenge of any new business is finding clients, which can be especially difficult for new tutors entering already saturated markets. Whether you’re highly specialized or a more general tutor, you’ll be competing with many others from around the world. 

In this article, I’ll provide some guidance to ensure you’re properly prepared to find clients and stand out amongst the competition. I’ll also show you how to create a robust business plan to tackle obstacles. 

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8 Steps to Starting a Tutoring Business

1. Determine Your Market

Before you even begin building out your business, you’ll want to do some research and determine who your client base will be. Depending on your past experience and subject expertise, you could tutor anyone from elementary school students all the way up to PhD candidates. 

You’ll want to identify:

  • Your subject(s): The areas where you have greatest knowledge and expertise
  • Your tutoring style: Whether you’ll work one-on-one, in groups, or both
  • Your location: If you’ll tutor in private homes, community centers, universities, online, etc.
  • Your student type: If you’ll work with children struggling with subjects in school, ESL adults, teens preparing for college, or university students

Some examples of tutoring specialities include:

  • SAT/ACT prep 
  • Language and ESL tutoring 
  • University tutoring 
  • After school tutoring
  • Subject-specific (math, history, science) tutoring

Once you’ve narrowed down your client base, do some research on the market for tutors in your area. You can check out competitor’s websites, online forums, or ask around to see what others offer and how much they charge. This will help you hone in on your business goals. 

2. Create Your Business Plan

I always preach the importance of creating a business plan, whether you’ll be working as a private tutor or looking to grow a tutoring agency. A business plan acts as the roadmap for your business. While you never have to stick with it 100%, knowing your goals and any potential obstacles can help you better plan and prepare for the less fun aspects of running a business. 

A business plan should lay out your business proposition or what clearly sets you apart from other tutors in your area and why you are best for the job. You want to be as clear as possible when determining your business offerings, because if you’re not even sure, how can your clients be?

It doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but generally, your business plan should break down:

  • Who are my clients?
  • What can I offer them?
  • Will I tutor in person, and if so, where?
  • What tools or resources do I need?
  • What business expenses do I need to account for?
  • How will I market my services?
  • What is my process for onboarding/offboarding new clients?
  • How will I grow/develop steady income?

As a new tutor, it’s best to focus on one or two areas in the beginning. Even if you feel confident in math, history, and SAT prep, focusing on one will help distinguish you as a specialist. That’s very important for building trust with your clients as an expert in your field. Then over time, you can develop your offerings to include more. 

3. Determine Your Business Type

One important aspect of any new business is ensuring your tax and legal requirements are fulfilled before you start operating. This means understanding your tax obligations and potentially registering your business. If you’re unsure, be sure to consult a local small business advisor, as these rules and regulations vary by location. 

If you plan on remaining a private tutor, you may only need to operate as a sole proprietorship which usually doesn’t require paperwork or huge fees. However, your personal and business finances are often intermixed, which can be a burden come tax time. 

For better separation, and to protect your personal assets if anything were to go wrong, I suggest opting for an LLC (limited liability corporation). With an LLC, you can open a business bank account, file separate taxes, and have more protections than as an individual. It’s also vital if you plan on hiring other tutors or staff to grow your business. 

4. Create a Website

With your business registered, you are now ready to set up a website. While you technically can become a successful tutor without a website, having a well-designed site can add a level of professionalism and make it easier to market your business far and wide. 

Your website should be personable and engaging. Explain who you are and why people should hire you as a tutor. Be sure to highlight professional working knowledge in a subject area, as well as academic or other certifications that show expertise. 

Additionally, you can use your website to let clients book sessions with you. You can also sell or provide additional resources, or even accept online payments, which we’ll discuss more below. 

5. Determine Your Pricing

Now that you’ve officially set up your website, it’s time to determine your prices. Tutoring is a competitive market, especially with the rise of online learning. Because of that, it’s important to find a balance between pricing yourself out of the market and pricing too low, which can make it hard to earn a living and lead to burnout. 

If you offer highly specialized tutoring, especially for advanced subjects, you’ll be able to charge more than a general tutor for elementary school students. Granted, it also depends on the location, as affluent areas may allow for higher prices across the board. Check your competitors to determine a rough range of how much you can charge for your market. 

To set up your prices, work out your business expenses and roughly the amount of hours you’ll aim to work. From there, calculate the bare minimum you need to cover the expenses and decide what you need to earn from revenue. Knowing what you need to earn allows you better to price your services fairly from the beginning. 

Once you’ve figured out what you need to earn, decide if you want to charge hourly, monthly, or through package deals. There is no right or wrong way to charge, but by factoring in variables like travel costs or educational materials, you’ll be able to find the best fit for your business. 

6. Set Up a Payment Service Provider

To make it convenient for your clients to pay you, Pay.com allows you to accept a wide variety of payment methods. Plus, Pay.com provides the highest level of security to ensure your clients feel safe providing their details online.  

You may want to invoice your clients after their tutoring sessions. Pay.com makes it simple to create an invoice link to send a payment request directly to the client. Pay Links can make invoicing easy for you. 

You can manage all your transactions in your user-friendly Pay Dashboard. It lets you keep track of the status of all your payments, an absolute must when juggling multiple clients. 

Click here to get started with Pay.com.

7. Market Your Business

After you’ve gotten all the administrative tasks out of the way, it’s time to find clients. In an ideal world, they’d come to you, but unfortunately, as a new business owner, you’ll need to put in the legwork to bring in new business

No matter your client base, there are a few easy ways to get your name out there. One is to set up an active social media presence and engage with users in your target audience (if children are your target clients, target their parents). Another is through SEO and paid search engine ads, which can be hugely beneficial, especially if you plan on tutoring online. 

Additionally, you can post flyers in areas that are frequented by your potential clients, such as university student unions, or community libraries. Plus, once you get a few clients, ask them for referrals, as word-of-mouth marketing is a free and often more trustworthy way to gain new business. 

8. Grow Your Business

Once you’ve gotten a few clients, you’ll want to work to keep growing your business. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but you can learn from your experiences, including your failures. Ask your clients for feedback on how to improve your services and integrate it into your business. This will help you continue to develop your skills and abilities when it comes to teaching others. 

You can use your knowledge to create resources and learning materials, which can help grow your business, especially if you sell these resources to others. You could even develop online courses, which add value to clients, name recognition of your business, and can help diversify your income – a great safety net during business lulls. 

Also, as a tutor, continue to educate yourself. Find ways to stay sharp in your subject, explore new tools and resources in the teaching community, and most of all, keep learning, as that will be crucial to helping others do the same. 

The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Tutoring Business

Pros:

  • You can work locally, or even exclusively online. 
  • You can operate on a flexible schedule.
  • There are very few startup costs involved.

Cons:

  • There may be periods with less work, such as summer or winter breaks.
  • Expectations of results, especially from parents, may be high or even unrealistic.
  • The market can be saturated, which makes breaking in difficult. 

The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Tutoring Business Right for You?

If you have a love for teaching and speciality knowledge to share, starting a tutoring business can be a great opportunity. It allows you to work for yourself on a flexible schedule, while also providing a positive impact on your clients’ lives. 

Tutoring can be a cheap business to get set up, but with lots of competition – both in-person and from online tutors around the world – it can be tough to break into the market. With a bit of business acumen, a solid business plan, and great client management skills, you can be successful. 

When it comes to accepting payments, Pay.com can get you set up in just a few easy steps. With a simple onboarding process, you can be up and running in no time. Plus, with the Pay Dashboard, you can easily manage and track your payments, view reports, and create payment requests, all in one place. 

FAQs

How can a private tutor accept credit card payments?

As a private tutor, all you have to do to accept credit card payments is sign up with a payment service provider like Pay.com. With Pay.com, you can easily send payment requests to your clients (or their parents) over SMS or email. Click here to find out more.

Is it hard to start a tutoring business?

Any new business venture will have its challenges, but if you already have expert-level knowledge and the acumen for teaching, starting a tutoring business can be relatively simple. You’ll just need to know how to set your prices, market yourself, manage clients, and accept payments.

Can you make a living off tutoring?

There are many people that make full-time incomes from tutoring alone. With the average private tutor earning $23/hour in the US, tutoring may not make you rich, but it can be enough to live on, depending on your specific needs.

How do tutors get clients?

Tutors can find clients in a number of ways. You could post on social media, use inbound marketing for your website, post flyers in the area, or talk to people in person. If you plan on tutoring in-person, getting out in the community can be a great way to connect with potential clients.

Meet the author

Ashley Hague

Ashley Hague is a B2B writer based in New Zealand. Specializing in fintech, SaaS, and sustainability in business, she helps businesses achieve their goals. When not working, she can be found rock climbing or delving into a historical biography.
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