Starting a tutoring business

In secondary education, 34% of parents choose to hire outside tutoring for their children. In primary education this is 14% (numbers from Ouders & Onderwijs, in Dutch). Do you want to help children learn, and are you good at explaining things? This article lists what to consider when starting a tutoring business.

Providing children in primary or secondary education with dedicated homework help. Increasingly more parents opt to arrange tutoring for their children. Do you have enough knowledge to help these children on their way towards their diploma? Then starting your own tutoring business might be something for you. You do not need a diploma to do this. But what do you need?

Business plan

Writing a business plan is not compulsory but it helps you to determine if your plans are feasible. Not only does it define your target group, it also gives you an idea of the competition. With the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK Company Counter (in Dutch) you can see how much competition there is in your area.

Number of tutoring businesses in the Netherlands (2017-2022)

Aantal studiebegeleidingsbedrijven in Nederland (2017-2022)(Source: KVK Business Register)

Marketing

Consider how you will publicise your business and how you will find clients. Linsey Brouwer of Lekker Leuk Leren started her business in tutoring and pupil guidance during her training as teaching assistant. A primary school teacher asked her to tutor a pupil with developmental delay. That is how it all started. Brouwer still guides children at that same primary school. Here, and via word-of-mouth advertising, it is easy for her to meet parents who are looking for homework tutoring for their children. “Most importantly, the parents get a good idea of what I have to offer during an obligation-free conversation at school. And I get a good idea of what parents expect of me.”

Many businesses also use social media. Brouwer has a business account on Instagram. “A website seems outdated to me.” Her Instagram account is also aimed at parents.

A legal structure

Choose a suitable legal structure for your situation. Look carefully at the differences in liability and tax benefits. If you start on your own, you can opt for a sole proprietorship. Or maybe you want to hire students, or take on personnel? In that case, you can opt for a legal structure that offers more protection, such as the private limited company (bv).

Location

Location-wise there are several options to start as a homework tutor. You can rent a property or a space in a multi-tenant office building, tutor from home, or go to your client’s house.

Online tutoring is gaining in popularity. This is especially true since the Covid pandemic. Thanks to video conferencing, you are still able to tutor children without the risk of getting infected.

Property

You can rent a business property where you can start your business. In your search for the right location, pay particular attention to accessibility by public transport, sufficient parking space, and of course a bike storage facility. The children you tutor will likely not have a driving licence yet. Do their parents drive them? In that case, you need parking space.

Do you already have a location in mind? Then ask the municipality for the zoning plan of the property. Also find out what the designated use of the neighbouring properties is. It would, for example, be rather unfortunate if the local brass band rehearses next to your office. Do the KVK location scan (in Dutch) and explore the area of your future place of business.

Multi-tenant office building

A multi-tenant office building is ideal if you only need a small office space. It is also an attractive option regarding costs. You can use common facilities and share these costs with the other tenants.

From home

It is also possible to tutor your pupils from home. In that case, you have to bear in mind the conditions of your municipality. Contact your municipality to verify that you are allowed to start a business from your home. Also carefully read your mortgage agreement or rental agreement. These documents state whether you are allowed to run a business from home. If you only provide online tutoring, there are no requirements.

House visits

You can also go to your clients. The advantage is that it is relatively quick and easy to get started. Take into account the travel time and travel expenses that come with this option. You can include these costs in your price or hourly rate.

Insurances

Consider the risks you want to cover with insurance, and the risks you can or want to carry yourself. This applies to business as well as personal insurances.

Do you want to insure yourself against occupational disability? Bread funds or gift circles are popular alternatives.

What happens if a child trips over a desktop cable at your location? If you have a business liability insurance, you are insured against any personal injury that your pupils sustain.

Personnel

Your business is picking up and you are looking for personnel. In that case, do you choose temporary or permanent staff? Do you work with students who understand the teaching material? An on-call contract offers flexibility. On-call contracts are provided for by the Balance Employment Market Act (Wet Arbeidsmarkt in Balans, WAB). You pay a minimum of 3 hours for every call. You ask your on-call employee no later than 4 days in advance to come in for work, either in writing or electronically. In that case, your on-call employee must come to work. Do you call them in later? Then your on-call employee is not obliged to come to work. If you have asked your on-call employee to come in for work, they are entitled to wages. Even if you withdraw or change the call.

Has your employee had an on-call contract for more than 12 months? In that case, you are obliged to offer them fixed working hours within 1 month. You have to do this in writing. You base your offer on the average number of hours per week that the on-call employee has worked in the past year.

Fees

Tutoring and homework help are very similar. Tutoring is usually individual brushing up on a specific subject. Homework help can be individual, but is also possible in (small) groups. This can therefore be taken into account when calculating your hourly rate. If groups for homework support consist of several people, your rate per client may be lower than for an individual tutoring hour.

Determine an appropriate hourly rate yourself. You can always adjust this rate, for example if it turns out to be too high or too low. Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What income do I want to have?
  2. What are my business expenses?
  3. How many hours do I want to work?

With the answers, you can calculate how many hours you need to work in order to earn the amount you need to live on with a certain hourly rate.

Your hourly rate can be decisive for a client to choose you. Therefore, also consider the rates of your competitors.

VAT

Homework assistance is usually exempted from VAT. This means that you do not charge VAT on your invoice, and you are not allowed to reclaim VAT.

A relationship of trust

Building trust might be the most important thing that you have to do. In doing so, honesty must be your first policy. This is something that Jaap Boiten of the tutoring centre Schouwse Bijlesplek knows all about. “If I notice that parents are crossing a line with what they tell their children, I tell the pupils that I will contact them. Statements like ‘You must stay at the centre, even if you have finished all your homework’ or ‘Even if your homework has been quizzed and checked at the tutoring centre, we will still do it again at home’ are just too much. The parents are grateful for the advice, because often they have no idea that there are certain things that are unhelpful to do or say.”

Boiten also believes it is important to know how a child is doing in school. “If a child registers with me, I immediately ask the pupil code for the online database their school uses, such as Magister or SOMtoday. I regularly check the system. Of course, with the permission of the parents and the children.”

Before he started, Boiten had no idea about the struggles homework causes at home. He and his homework tutors help children do their homework as efficiently as possible. They explain the material, teach them how to plan, to structure, and to think ahead about the school day the day after tomorrow. This not only makes the pupils happy. The parents are happy as well. “Parents who have a pit in their stomach every single day, because they have to fight this battle with their child again.”

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