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The Pre-Scaling Checklist: 7 Must-Do's for New Online Tutoring Business Owners

In today's fast-paced world, language skills are more valuable than ever, and starting an online tutoring business can be both a fulfilling and profitable endeavour. We've compiled the essential insights from our Get More Students podcast to help you embark on this exciting journey. 

These are the 7 things every new online language tutoring business owner needs to get right before considering an Online School software or worrying about scaling: 

  1. Align with your passion, purpose and business
  2. Be clear on your initial target market (niche) and offer
  3. Get your positioning and pricing right
  4. Know how you can get more students (consistently)
  5. Make technology your ally
  6. Build trust and develop your systems
  7. Get ready for a marathon, not a sprint

Align with your passion, purpose and business

Starting an online language tutoring business requires a deep-rooted love for teaching and helping students. By aligning your passion with a clear vision, you'll be more committed to building a successful virtual classroom. Remember, your online school should not be solely about making money; it should be driven by a mission to improve the quality of online tuition and language training. As you navigate the early stages of your business, remind yourself of your passion and purpose to stay motivated and focused.

Be clear on your initial target market (niche) and offer

In the competitive world of online tutoring, having a clear idea of what makes you unique is crucial. Identify your target audience and tailor your services to meet their needs. Knowing exactly who you want to help and how to go about helping them is essential to your success. By being crystal clear on who you serve and understanding their specific requirements, you'll be better positioned to provide practical examples and support that resonate with your students.

Get your positioning and pricing right

Understanding your positioning in the market is vital to your success. Consider your target audience, your unique value proposition, and your competition when defining your brand. This will impact your marketing strategy and pricing structure. By having a clear understanding of your positioning, you'll be able to set competitive rates and attract the right students to your online school.

Know how you can get more students (consistently)

Many tutorpreneurs and teacherpreneurs worry about technology and scaling too early, even before they have figured out how they are going to build a consistent pipeline of customers. You can solve almost any systems or scaling problem once you have a reliable flow of students. The number one question to prove before worrying about technology, scaling or hiring is: Can you find anyone (outside of friends, family and direct connections) that are willing to pay you money for your service? 

Make technology your ally

In an online language tutoring business, technology is essential. Embrace technology and harness the power of online school software to create an engaging and interactive learning experience. Choose the right tools and platforms to deliver your service effectively. Research and invest in reliable online school software that will facilitate a seamless virtual classroom experience. Understand how these tools contribute to the overall experience of your business and make sure they align with your mission and values.

Build trust and develop your systems

One of the essential aspects of a successful online language tutoring business is trust. Establish a method that enables you to take someone from the initial contact to building a lasting relationship.

Develop a clear understanding of how to use online materials, such as online school software, in your virtual classroom to make the learning experience engaging and interactive. By demonstrating expertise in your field and utilizing the right materials, you'll foster trust with your students and increase the likelihood of referral business.

Get ready for a marathon, not a sprint

the Race Starting an online language tutoring business can be challenging, and it's essential to approach it with patience. Instead of getting caught up in the idea of the grass always being greener, focus on building your business gradually. Understand that your lifestyle may be more demanding initially, but with hard work and dedication, you can create a thriving online school that benefits both you and your students.

Below we delve into our podcast transcript, where we'll discuss these points in detail and provide expert advice on building a successful online language tutoring business.

Note: This transcript was auto-created using AI so please excuse the occasional spelling mistake or formatting issue.


Transcript: How to start an online tutoring business

Alex: Hey, welcome to another episode of the Get More Students podcast. I'm your co-host, Alex Asher, CEO of LearnCube. 

Herbert: I'm Herbert Goer, founder of 

Alex: So today we are gonna be talking about a topic that both Herbert and I are exposed to a lot, which is you know, how do I start an online tutoring business in 2021?

Alex: Mm-hmm. So we know that this is gonna date us a little bit, but you know what, what it takes to start up an online tutoring business. This year compared to last year or the year before in particular, is quite a different story and cause it comes up so often, we thought that this would make a great topic and a great conversation.

Alex: So just to provide some context as well. So I run a business called Learn Cube, and we specialize in a professional virtual classroom software and online school solution for tutoring and language companies. [00:01:00] So we are, you know, often approached by tutoring and language businesses for that particular purpose.
Alex: Interestingly enough, we actually. Basically increasingly more value as a tutoring or language company grows because as they have more people more students and more classes, they also have more systems that they need to to manage. And so with that we often find that we're best able to help, particularly with our more our higher value products like our online school.

Alex: We we're typically able to help at higher level, you know, when. Tutor has, you know, more than say five tutors or five tutors working on their behalf. And likewise the language school with sort of five or more teachers. And so with that, you know, we are really exposed to. What tutoring businesses make it and which language and tutoring businesses don't.

Alex: And we really wanna help, you know, those that are starting out to really know what they're [00:02:00] getting themselves into and how to really set themselves up for success. So I, I know that you are on a similar kind of level here. Herbert, tell us about, can you talk about your experience? 

Herbert: Yeah, I mean, it's, it's very similar here at the ad agencies.
Herbert: So, you know, we run paint advertising campaigns for language schools and education businesses, and I get a lot of calls booked in. From startups and kind of teach entrepreneurs, so to say, wanting to promote their relatively new online teaching business. And my advice is always to them to create solid foundations first.
Herbert: So to get their offer, you know, intact. Their website up to scratch. They should have already invested some time and effort into creating their online and social media presence before investing you know, thousands of dollars into paid [00:03:00] advertising to acquire more students. So that's also the reason why we work more with established education 

Alex: timing, actually So one of the key things that we wanted to answer on, you know, how to start is also possibly, you know, when to, to start your online tutoring business.

Alex: And I think the way to answer that is, I'm gonna be going through the questions that we are sort of gonna be talking through each one of, you know, when's the right time is gonna depend, you know, on a, on a number of factors personal to you, including, you know, what stage of business you have, but you know, who do you serve?

Alex: You know, why do you do what you do? You know, maybe kind of think about when, when not to start, or when to kind of wait to, to kind of find the right reasons, you know, how are you gonna deliver? So there's a, there's a bunch. Ideas that we're gonna talk about today. But to begin with, let's talk about, you know why do you want to [00:04:00] start an online tutoring business in the first place?

Alex: It's a big, big question, but a lot of people don't answer particularly well, but it's so critical, right? 

Herbert: Absolutely. I think, I mean, everyone's online these days and obviously the market for online tutoring services has grown exponentially. So I think a lot of people see that there's an opportunity there.

Herbert: A lot of people want that freedom and flexibility that comes with. Owning their own business or running their own you know, tutoring, enterprise. So yeah, I mean, there are a lot of shiny objects there that would point towards going for it and starting your own online tutoring company.

Alex: Yeah. So I guess one of the things that's changed, and this way we're really kind of trying to hone in on this idea that in a post covid world, [00:05:00] there's a different market environment. Mm-hmm. And it means that you have to get one thing really right before you even consider kind of growing your business, which is, you know, who do you serve? Because every single thing, every single decision after that comes from that, that answer. We've actually answered this in a previous episode, episode three, which is how to choose a niche on the Get More Students podcast. But it's just fundamental, right?

Herbert: Absolutely. If you, if you don't have a niche, you're going to basically shoot in the dark and really defining who you serve who you teach, who you're going to target.
It makes everything else down the line much easier. So whether or not you're going to tutor specific ages, maybe just kids which. Particular area or subject of tutoring. As well as, you know, if you know your niche and have a well-defined niche, you can usually charge more being a [00:06:00] specialist rather than a generalist who, you know, tutors everything
And I think more than that, I, I think, you know, how do you start an online tutoring business in, in, in today's age? I think it's very difficult to start a general online tutoring business. Oh, absolutely. So with that in mind and, and knowing that you have to have that niche you really then wanna, you know, answer this next question is why do you wanna serve that group of people, of those individuals? Because I think without a really strong why, then again, that sort of goes into your story, that goes into your, eventually into your marketing, into your and every other part of your. Service really. So again, we've talked about why choosing Anisha is so important, but it's, it's really critical for your storytelling and, and one way to start thinking about.
How do you start that? Online sharing business is being very clear on your vision, [00:07:00] your mission, and your values. Mm-hmm. So I think it is really helpful for you to have this really defined and written down somewhere because we're, we're, we're gonna talk about, you know, reasons why to start and why not to start a business, but it's gonna get hard and at one, at one point in time, and you're gonna need to have a really clear understanding of why you're doing what you're. And I, I also think you always have to look back on your vision, mission and values when things get tough, when maybe, you know, you've, you've had to make a decision that was maybe a bit out of line and then going back to what your North Star is and, you know, kind of re reconfiguring so that you are heading in the right direct.

Alex: Yeah, exactly right. So particularly the vision and mission are really helpful ways of defining your North Star. So that vision is really relating to that change you're wanting to [00:08:00] see in the world. So what's that? That vision is really, you know, something that doesn't exist. So if you are, again, it's gonna rely solely on your choice of niche because you're not gonna be able to change the entire world's language learning or tutoring or math problem. You know, the way that they, they approach math or whatever your tutoring niches, but you can change one part of that, and that's where that vision comes in. So what's that? What is that contribution you want to. Yeah. Is there any other way that you talk about a vision like and how to come up with a strong vision, Herbert?

Herbert: Yeah, I mean, looking at it just solving a problem. So maybe within the realm of math tutoring, there is still this kind of niggling problem that that pupil students have when it comes to learning a particular way or. Learning a particular style, and you kind of want to flip that around and make it [00:09:00] easier for all parties involved. So definitely focusing on, on some specific problem can definitely help you with, with the vision.

Alex: Yeah, I mean, again, going back to that again, why choosing an niche so important? You can't come up with that vision in a strong enough way without having a really clear picture of. I'm just thinking in the math tuition sort of space, you know, helping kids learn, you know, math, you know, better. It's a pretty weak vision. Mm-hmm. But if you were really kind of focusing on, I don't know, like even a cultural group that were in, you know, we've often talked about even cu looking at your strengths in a, in a cultural setting to be able to find a niche. Yeah. So it might be you know, kids from London there are a lot of people from say the Caribbean and they have maybe some really interesting cultural [00:10:00] values and stories and stuff that they find really fascinating. And if you can kind of combine that and dovetail that with math tutoring for that particular niche, that's gonna be fantastic. Whereas, and it's gonna really set you apart. And then you can have a really strong vision about what these kids that maybe have a Caribbean back. Are gonna be able to do with that newfound confidence and understanding of, of math. I mean, that's just maybe a, a small example. Maybe hyper niche, but it, it does get you onto the idea of what that vision could look like and how a contribution could look like, rather than trying to serve every single person. On the, the mission side, this is really not just the, the vision you wanna see in the world, but how does your business. Solve or work towards that vision, you know, why does your business really exist? What's its purpose? Again, Herbert, do you have any ideas on [00:11:00] how somebody could really decide on that mission, that North Star?

Herbert: So, I mean, in, in this learning space continuous improvement and learning,  whether that be, always trying to find the. Method or techniques or, or ways of learning. I mean, that can be, you know, your mission to always be at the forefront of learning. You know, that can be one way of, of seeing it. I mean, for example, what would LearnCube's mission statement be if you are able to share it?

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. So we keep that very much at our forefront. So our, our mission. So why we exist is to improve the quality of online tuition and language teaching. That's why we exist. And so everything that we do is to try and fit that, that purpose. [00:12:00] Great. So with that in mind, you know, your vision being the thing you'd like to create in the world, your business mission being, you know, what your company's role in delivering on that, that vision is. Also then think about the values, you know, what are the values that are important to you?
Alex: So for LeanrCube, particularly inside of our team, you know, we're all about collaboration and about innovation, about being world-class. So those are just some of our values. What are the values that are critical to building your business? What are your, what are your, well, yeah, do you have any business values that you'd like to share?

Herbert: Absolutely. I mean, you know, as a, as a marketing agency, you know, one of our values is to be data driven. So to look at the data and make dec decisions based off that, and kind of, that's our our north start. It, it points us in the right direction. So always looking at the data and [00:13:00] making decisions based on that. As well as always trying to find the best solution. So even if it's out outside of the realm of the service that we are providing, but it has to do, it is related, we will try to find the solution for our customer. 

Alex: So what are some so those are some, I think, some strong ways to think about why, to start your online tutoring business. What are some reasons not to start an online tutoring business here? 

Herbert: Probably the number one is, is, is money. I looking at as a, a get rich quick scheme, which it definitely isn't. And yeah, I think probably most, most people would tell you that you shouldn't at. In the first instance do it because of the money Definitely, I would like to think that most tutors do it for their love of teaching, for the love of [00:14:00] helping students you know, go further with their lives. So yeah, that's, that's the number one thing.

Alex: Makes sense. I, I think one of the other reasons not to do it is this idea of grass is greener. So there are some really accomplished, great tutors and teachers They're doing a fantastic role. They actually really enjoy the teaching. That's the thing they love the most, but they get kind of caught out and trapped by this idea of the grass is always greener. So if they had their own business, you know, I wouldn't my lifestyle be so much better. And often it won't be certainly not on the initial stages. I think the lifestyle would be far worse because you are, are now trying to build something bigger than yourself, like you are not. You're not just trying to fill your day worth of teaching, you're trying to fill other tutors days full of meaningful. Teaching and tutoring. So that [00:15:00] can I think that can really cause some, some problems because if a tutor's really good at tutoring, that doesn't mean you're gonna be a great business owner. And I say that with respect, but just simply for the same reason why a lot of people that love cooking at home shouldn't start a restaurant. It really changes when it's your business and your profession. To, to kind of, in this case, it's, it's not just to teach more, it's to build an online tutoring business. 

Herbert: Yeah. And the systems and processes involved in that of recruiting other, other teachers and retaining them on the administrative side, the financial side of things, the marketing there, there's a lot on your. And not just teaching. 

Alex: And that's why knowing why you are gonna do something is so important because why would you start a, a business if you were gonna make your life a [00:16:00] lot harder? Mm-hmm. You were gonna actually make less money because you then had to be responsible for the overheads that go into running a business.
Alex: Maybe you didn't actually like the idea of having to deal with marketing, which you're absolutely gonna have to do regardless when you start. Yes, is to get that right. Regardless of whether you think you're a marketer or not, there's not gonna be anybody else that's gonna be able to do that work for you.
Alex: So you're gonna have to be okay with doing that. Marketing gonna have to be okay with making a sale. So again, tutors that are used to working for somebody else, they often don't have to deal with taking money and asking no, the mate front and dealing with a parent. Doesn't pay on time or doesn't want to pay on time. There are loads of reasons why that's quite painful and I think it's really important that people know why they're, you know, and if they're, if they've got a really strong vision, you know, well, you know, what I'm really trying to build is a totally new approach to math tutoring. That's [00:17:00] a unique, and, and actually really works with I don't know, kids of ages, you know, four to 10 to really set them up for life. Well that's gonna be a lot more that's gonna be compelling, but if it's just to, to make money as soon as you stop, as soon as you don't see the money come in. Yeah, you're gonna, you're gonna quit the business. Yeah. So we talked a lot about who you serve why you do what you do with that vision, mission, values, the wrong reasons to, to start a business. The next thing is how are you going to, you know, again, kind of going into the more kind of direct question of how to start an online tutoring business. What do you need? You know? Mm-hmm. You're gonna need firstly, you're gonna have to have the, that, that dial and have a business plan. I feel like that's its own episodes.

So we're not gonna go into how to create a business plan or how to create you actually learn a lot in this podcast around like marketing, strategy. [00:18:00] But you are also gonna have to have an overarching marketing strategy to get to that niche that you are really gonna be serving. So I think those are some, like some basics.

You're gonna need some form of technology at one point in time. Again, you can totally get by when you're starting out. So particularly with LearnCube, you know, we offer an online whiteboard. We offer a virtual classroom. For independent teachers. And then for those that are sort of making that next move, we offer an online score or an online, basically an online tutoring platform. But all of those things come in time and when you're starting, you though, that's not an essential piece. Mm-hmm. Probably the most essential piece is the reason that you kind of are listening to this podcast, which is you need to, you need students and continue to get more students, which is kind of on the, on the tin with this with this [00:19:00] episode. So what are the other aspects that you think you're gonna have to have really clear.

Herbert: You really need to flesh out your offer and how you are actually going to, you know, facilitate reaching your goal and, and delivering on your mission. Mission. So is it gonna take the form of private tutoring, so one-on-one tutoring or group tutoring or Yeah, maybe a self-study course, you know, whatever that may be. You've got to know you know, what your offer is. And also, of course, a big pain point with a lot of tutors starting out is how to price my product. Yeah, should I go with the market? You know, if I go niche, maybe I can charge higher. You know, this really reflects your, your choice of. Yeah, and it's all about your positioning, right?

Alex: So your pricing will reflect your position in the market. That price is also gonna impact depending if you are offering one-to-one [00:20:00] small group, much larger group, A mix of all, all of those will provide different anchor points so that they're gonna have different pricing and implications for sure. Yeah, 
Herbert: yeah.
Herbert: Obviously a lot of thought and research needs to go into that. Again having a business plan will help you with this because then you'll have to crunch the numbers to see what you know, what works for you in terms of margins and et cetera. But yeah. Those are probably the, the main things that, that you need to cover.
Herbert: So technology, you know, how you're going to deliver the actual tutoring lessons. Yeah. And your offer in terms of you know, private one-to-one group and the pricing 
Alex: of that. Yeah. And those systems don't have to be super dialed, actually. Like what I was saying before is you could have a generic video conference software, like a Zoom or a, a Google Meet to begin with, and then once you have those students mm-hmm.
Alex: You can use LearnCube to kind of differentiate [00:21:00] yourself. Absolutely. But likewise, it all comes down to can you get enough students? That's the, the fundamental. Absolutely.

And you can 
Herbert: start off scrappy, you know, this doesn't all need to be dialed in from, from day one. Yeah. You kind of need to test the market and to see to get feedback from potential customers to, to see if they're interested in what you are offering.
Alex: Yeah. And even, even at a base level, you need to prove that somebody's willing to pay for your services, right? Mm-hmm. So if you have no students, There is, you have no evidence yet that you can build an online tutoring business. So number one is, can you find anyone willing to pay you money for your service?
Alex: And then you can kind of build up from there, I guess, or from there. Yeah. 

Herbert: Just getting the first student, I think is the, is that, that's the biggest hurdle, like going from zero to one? Yeah. It's a huge mental. Mental barrier 
Alex: as well. Yeah. It goes from something [00:22:00] that's hypothetical that could happen to something that's now real.
Alex: And everything that goes with that. Likewise, you know, do you need a website? No, not necessarily. You do need students, but you do. You don't need a website. No. To start a business, you might need a website to grow your business. You know, a lot of people start with Facebook site, I think. I actually think that's something online.
Alex: In terms of a, a space where somebody can view your, your offer is a necessity. Like you can't get away with not having, let's say, even easier as a lot of the time is just having a free web, free Facebook page right on the website. I've seen a lot of people that haven't got a website, but have got a Facebook page and have definitely built enough students to build their, the start of their.

Herbert: Yeah, I've seen that as well. A lot of tutors have, have that. 

Alex: Yeah. And then what else do you need to start your online tutoring business? You're gonna need to have a reason for people to buy, you know, your service in terms of [00:23:00] standing up, you're going to have to have a reason that somebody will choose you over somebody else.
Alex: And it, I don't. Personality is certainly one of the things that you should be really pushing on when you start, but that's not your only U S P, mm-hmm. Because that, if you're starting a business, you are naturally thinking of, how can I build a business that's more than just me? Because I, at one stage, you're gonna want to sell that business.
Alex: Or have somebody manage that business, either of those two options, and they can't really work. They can't do either of those two things. If you are the only one that does the teaching and you are the only one that does literally every single part of the business. Mm-hmm. 

Herbert: So, yeah, I mean, it's a great way to start off with kind of using yourself as the face of the business.
Herbert: So leveraging your personality, your, your background, your personal experiences, but then looking more into, you know, how am I going, what is my U S P? How am I going to stand out [00:24:00] from all of those other tutors and tutoring companies, whether that. Personalized customized materials, your own teaching method, and a new approach to, to, to teaching something or, you know, leveraging technology that's out there that, that isn't being maybe used in a certain way.
Yeah, that's right. Also, I mean, we had a fantastic example. We were actually talking with somebody that had an online tutoring business and we were kind of trying to really get, you know, what, you know, should she start, you know, how is she gonna grow her online tutoring business? And it seemed like the big thing for her was this idea of really helping disadvantaged kids in their teens and possibly those that had, had a real struggle and a challenge in integrating into. Their normal, kind of their normal schooling. Yeah. And so that, that [00:25:00] her vision, I guess was a world where disadvantaged students and those that have experienced possibly even trauma have a real way of being reintegrated into society and into traditional schools. And so her mission was to help those disadvantaged children. And she had some really strong values. And because she had chosen that niche of disadvantaged students within the UK as well it really gave her also a bit of a US. Because then definitely that was part of her USP was her niche itself. No one else was really gonna be dealing with The way that she kind of described were, were more like the emotional and supportive mental health side of, mm-hmm. Of tutoring. And she felt that she could really deliver on that. And she's really passionate about that. And obviously I'd done a lot. When you're passionate about something, you learn a lot about. It [00:26:00] felt like she had a lot to offer. So that was a USP that and, and a way of standing out that she was gonna start doing also with her storytelling and with her marketing. But it sort of tied into all of those, you know, she had a personality, she had the, she had a, a clear understanding of how she would use materials, how she'd use materials online, understand online whiteboard, and a virtual classroom. Quite a clear idea of that method of taking somebody and, and kind of building up trust and then really, yeah, providing really practical examples to that to that student. And she was getting referral business because then the channels were really obvious because everything again, had sort of built up from that niche. I don't know if you had any other kind of comments from that conversation, Herbert? 

Herbert: No, I think that was a fantastic example. It just goes to show how important a clear vision is, and hers was crystal clear, very powerful and [00:27:00] strong values. And, and she, she knows exactly who she wants to help and, and how she, she's going to go about that to. Kind of take, take a person from point A to point B through these, you know, different methods and materials. And doing that, she really kind of puts herself out there as this as this, the person to go to for this specific situ.

Alex: That's exactly right. So we're gonna close, close this particular episode. I'll just do a quick summary of what we've done today on how to start an online tutoring business in the modern era in 2021, shall we say. But that is to be crystal clear on who you serve. Secondly is understand why you are getting into business and why you want to really [00:28:00] help that target. With your vision, mission, and values as being cl, you know, but that's gonna be your scaffolding and structure and foundations for building the business. You are also gonna have a clear understanding of how you're going to deliver. That service and, and how that's gonna contribute back into the reason your business actually exists. So that's thinking of things like your technology, whether it be a video conference, virtual classroom, online school system, whatever it may be, the, you know, the we're, you're gonna have to have a very clear understanding of how you're gonna go about that. You know, is it one-to-one small group? Otherwise, you're gonna have to have a very clear understanding of your positioning and that'll impact your marketing and your pricing.
And you're gonna have to have a very clear idea of what makes you unique in the, in the market.

And that, again, go back to our How to Choose a Niche episode, episode three [00:29:00] of the Get More Students Podcasts cause that'll, again, will set you in good stead. Anything I've forgotten about how to start an online tutoring business today?

Herbert: I don't think so. A lot of people are probably asking, Hey, but how about the marketing Alex and Herbert? How do I actually get new students? But lucky for you, we will be covering that in a future episode of the Get More Students podcast. Exactly. So definitely hit the subscribe button. What we try and do is provide ideas, inspiration, and motivation to entrepreneurs just like you. So we'll hopefully see you again. 


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