Tutors are always in demand. A tutoring business is a very profitable business to operate in Zimbabwe. By 2018, this market is expected to grow to at least $102.8 billion worldwide. It is a growing market and you can start your private tutoring business whilst helping students succeed in their academic journey. Full time students find it hard to keep up with the class curriculum, other students fail and have to rewrite and others need guidance to prepare especially for examinations.
In Zimbabwe, education is a must for all those who have the means to earn it. Parents and guardians go the extra mile to make sure that their children get the best education. You may decide to set it up as a tutoring agency and bring in a few more tutors. At first you may start as a single tutor and then expand the tutoring business into an tutoring agency. You need to carry out market research and have a good tutoring business plan before you start this business.
What you need
Look for a niche
The tutoring business is wide and you need an area of specialization. Assess and decide on which age groups you want to concentrate on. Match this with your expertise or an area of teaching you are passionate about. You have to choose whether you want to cater for elementary students, primary students, secondary and high school students or tertiary level students.
A list of the subjects to tutor
After selecting your niche, list the subjects you have the experience and skill to tutor. For primary children, Maths and English are high demand subjects. Science is also another growth area to consider and focus on. The same goes for secondary students, however their main concern is to pass at least five subjects in order to get a job or perhaps move on into high school. You may select the best five subject in high demand such Mathematics, English Language, Integrated Science, Geography and Accounts. Science subjects e.g. Physics and Biology are also in high demand at both O’ level and Advance level. You can offer tutorship for any subject, even practical ones such as music and computers.
You can never go wrong with specialization. As you begin your tutoring business, do not quickly rush into taking all grades or forms. Rather focus on a special area where you have experience in. It may be teaching grade five to seven or a form four students. Concentrate on that strength and then bring in other tutors to concentrate on the other grades or forms.
For a tutoring agency, you can offer a variety of subjects. You just have to find tutors who are experienced in tutoring those subjects, even though you have zero knowledge about the subject. Your job will be to market the business and match the tutors to the students.
You may tutor from your home. Some students prefer that you tutor them from their own homes. You can choose to carry out some sessions from a rented space. When choosing a location for your tutoring agency, consider noise of the surrounding areas as you need a quite environment where students can concentrate and study. The premises should be easily accessible and located conveniently considering the location of your target market.
In choosing to carry out lessons from students’ homes, bear in mind the cost and time to commute and get to all of your lessons. If you do not have a car, assess how reliable public transport can be. Teaching students from their home has an advantage of motivating the students since they are in an environment they are comfortable and familiar with.
You can also offer group lessons at your premises as well as one on one lessons at the students’ home. This is a way of diversifying your services as some students prefer group lessons while others prefer home tutoring.
Draw up a contract
After determining your price, draw up a policy or contract which clearly outlines the payment procedures, dates and other requirements. Remember this is a business and no matter how familiar you have become with your students or parents, do not be too flexible. Be careful about the payment terms. This will help your tutoring business flourish in the long run.You may for example require payment upfront or at the end of each month. Clearly communicate this to students, guardians and parents. Every guardian or parent must sign and agree your terms and conditions.
The learning curriculum changes every few years and you need to prepare by purchasing supplies such as textbooks, study guides, visual aids and green books. Students usually provide their own supplies such as pens, pencils and writing pads. However, its better if your tutors are equipped with their own textbooks.
Create a website
Other potential clients may find your tutoring business online. You may also consider expanding the tutoring business by offering extra services such as online examinations tests which students can undertake on their own. You may provide examination and study guides which students can download. Tertiary students are more inclined to internet use than the traditional use of hard copies. The is a gap in the Zimbabwean market for a tutoring agency which fully utilizes the potential of the internet.
Like any other business you may need a system to help you manage the administrative work, students’ schedules, records and reports. To add on there are other accounting related issues and you want to understand your revenue and your expenses. Consider use of a system such as Oases. This system automates all your administrative processes and comes up with schedules, reports. It also does the billing and payroll for you.
This is a numbers game. You need to market your services so that you get many clients. The more clients you get, the more profit for your tutoring business. You may advertise by posting flyers in your community, libraries, community centers and other areas where students like to frequent. You may also use social media and local newspapers. However, word of mouth and referrals are a huge source of clients. If you provide quality tutoring services, your students will refer other people to your tutoring business.
Research will help you determine what your competitors are offering in your local area. For this industry, pricing is mainly influenced by demographics and the type of subject. Your reputation and experience can also be influential in setting up a price for your services. The price must not be too low as it may give your clients a wrong impression and simultaneously affect your profits. A very high price may chase away all clients. Try to find a balance. The pricing strategy will be a determining factor in the success of your tutoring business. For group lessons, some charge a monthly price e.g. $30/month per subject. For one on one lessons, the prices are charged per hour and they range from $5 to $12 per hour.
Capital for a Tutoring Business
You will need capital to set up your tutoring academy. There may be a need to renovate the building to match your plans and set up small class rooms. At start up you will need to cover rent, purchase supplies, purchase desks, chairs and furniture for the academy. You will also need to cover salaries of the private tutors you employ. If you are starting solo, you can start the tutoring business with less than $100 as you will be teaching students at their homes or from your own home. This is a low capital small business which does not need a lot of capital.
For a tutoring agency, you will need more money. This is because you need to have furniture, rentals, textbooks, salaries, advertising costs etc. You need to have money which can sustain your tutoring business for at least 3 months. This is largely because it may take time for you to secure clients. Also it is very challenging to get all the cash at the appropriate time. There will always be a mismatch between income received versus expenses. This might affect operations as you may fail to meet up operational costs. Set aside at least three months’ working capital to cover expenses.
Profitability and costs
The costs for a tutoring business include rentals, salaries, transport costs, educational materials, marketing e.t.c.Try to minimize administrative costs for stationery, printing and fuel amongst other expenses to boost profitability.
The profitability of the tutoring business will depend on the number of students you get and your profit margins. For a small tutoring business, you can make monthly profits of $500-$1500.
Is Tutoring Business suitable for you?
Tutoring business is not cut off for only qualified teachers. Higher qualifications are desirable and if you have them the better. You need especially enthusiasm and a positive attitude. You may realize that most students are affected by low self esteem and would need a cheerful attitude and someone who encourages them more.
However, you don’t require all those high qualifications to start a tutoring business. You can be a form 4 drop out and start a successful tutoring business. This is where your entrepreneurship skills come into play. If you can’t tutor then hire someone who is capable of tutoring. Match tutors to students, pocket the money and use some of it to pay the tutors.
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