How to Start Your Own Educational Learning Center
Education centers and tutoring programs are supplements to in-class learning. These services offer students, elementary through college, one-on-one attention that teachers often cannot. A large number of colleges have a free educational learning center available on campus; some middle and high schools offer free after-school tutoring. However, there are several fee-based educational learning centers, such as Sylvan Learning and Huntington Learning Center, with locations across the nation. They are a few simple steps to starting your own educational learning center.
Write a business plan. This plan will help you define the objective and focus of your business. Resources such as Business Plan Pro and Bplans.com have templates and examples for writing business plans for starting educational business plans. In your business plan, you will address questions, such as “What services will I offer?” and “Where will the tutoring take place?”
Register your business with the IRS. All business should apply for an EIN (employee identification number) on the IRS website. The process is free, and you can submit the application online. Your EIN is required for filing for a business license.
Apply for business permits and licenses. The exact process and requirements vary from state to state -- contact your local small business authority for details on how to register your educational business with your state. Some states may require educational and tutoring businesses to have special certifications or permits; however, other states, such as South Carolina, do not. The Small Business Administration website has a complete list of state business licensure offices that will be able to identify the licensing requirements for your specific state (see Resources).
Speak with a representative from a bank of your choice about setting up a business banking account. Many banks offer free business checking accounts to small businesses. You can then link this bank account to a small business' financial service such as Quick Books Pro, American Express Open or PayPal to enable you to have greater control over your businesses finances. Many of these services allow you to accept credit cards and checks online, as well as send and receive payments online.
Find tutors. Starting out, you may be the business only tutor; however, your tutoring specialties may only be, for example, science and math. Recruiting other tutors with different tutoring specialties will help your tutoring service become more competitive. Ask for permission to advertise tutoring positions at local high schools, colleges and businesses where you can find individuals with experience in diverse tutoring specialties. For example, a senior pre-med college student may be qualified to tutor in biology. A registered nurse may be qualified to tutor a nursing student preparing for her boards. Be sure to set up a payment schedule for your tutors. For example, if a tutor signs your terms of agreement, you will pay him half of the profits that you earn from his services.
Finalize your pricing and terms. The amount that you can reasonably charge for your services will depend on the qualification of your instructors and tutors. For example, Master's-educated tutors usually charge $40 to $75 per hour – depending on the subject material. Tony Aitken, author of "The Wealthy Tutor," suggests that you establish terms, such as requiring clients to purchase a minimal number of hours upfront. For your legal protection, always sign an agreement with your client concerning your pricing and terms.
Find a facility for your educational learning center. Starting out, you may not have enough money to purchase or rent your own facility; however, you may be able to come to an agreement with a local church or community center to allow you to operate your learning center from their facility. However, if you do purchase a facility for your learning center, be sure to check with your local zoning office for requirements for operating your center from your chosen location. You can also offer in-home tutoring, meaning your tutors will travel to your client's home for the tutoring session. Another option, is library tutoring, meaning your tutors will meet their clients at a local library. This option provides a neutral location for both parties and a free alternative for you.
Start advertising. You can setup up a website or Facebook account to spread the word about your services. Facebook is a popular form of advertising because many students already use it and it is free for businesses to create a page. You can also ask local schools and colleges for permission to post fliers and posters advertising your business on their campuses. Be sure that any printed material you distribute is on letterhead paper – meaning that the header includes your business name, contact information and logo (if you have one). Business cards are handy for distributing to potential clients. Many of these business and advertising materials can be purchased via print shops, such as Kinko’s or Vista Print.