It takes so much time to get things started.
When you start something (ie. Tutoring), you are keen for it to get started; for many reasons:
It’s a new adventure and enthusiasm is high
You are starting the business because you need the money
By tutoring you hope to genuinely make a difference to the lives of the people you encounter
I started Starr Tutoring in 2012 and now it is a business that goes far beyond what I ever expected it to be.
I am hesitant about posting this blog as I don’t want people to think I am sitting on my pity cushion, but instead to show you that it can be done. So, don’t give up!
Within the next few lines, I hope you will find some inspiration that will help you move your business forward as well.
In 2012 I was a single mum of 3 children. My oldest had moved back in with her dad (long story) and I was in a job I hated. We were still trying to finalise the divorce and I was at an all time low.
Previously, I had been an NVQ assessor and although I loved the job, it was impractical. I would often find myself several miles away at 3 o’clock assessing someone when I should have been walking up the school path to collect my own children from school.
One afternoon, on impulse I contacted the local college and asked about doing the PTLLS course so that I could do a similar role but based in a classroom.
That day changed my life.
Whilst on that course I made friends with a lady who was tutoring. She suggested I gave it a go. After several weeks of deliberation and advise from another friend I submitted.
One afternoon whilst my kids were at their dad’s I put my profile onto the first tutors’ website. It was very basic and I don’t think I promoted myself that well as I had such a low opinion of myself at that time.
But it was a start.
I had no business knowledge what so ever, so everything I did was on instinct. I would have loved a guiding hand at this point.
Another friend and I brainstormed ideas about what we would expect from a tutor if we had one for our own children. This was my building block for the business. I wasn’t thinking about profits and margins, I was thinking about what a parent would expect from me.
I genuinely think this is why things started to move so quickly. Unknowingly, I was thinking like my ideal customer.
I was relating to their wants and desires. Their fears and frustrations.
The next Sunday the children went to their dad’s for the afternoon I sat down and looked at how to create a website.
It had to be cheap because money was an issue. It also had to be very simple to create as I had no knowledge or experience in anything like this. The only experience I had was when I used Microsoft word for my previous jobs (even my degree, although a correspondence degree was predominately paper based). Other than the only IT experience I had playing Tetris on my brother’s Sinclair Spectrum as a child.
By the time they came home that evening I had put together a very basic website on Vistaprint. (The very basic website I have recently put together is on WordPress as it has more features. But it still costs me very little as I try to do as much of it as I can myself).
Not a cost-effective use of my time?
I know, but I enjoy it and when I’m doing it, I feel as if I am being proactive in moving the business forward. Whilst I am moving forward I know I am making progress towards my goal.
Quickly, I realised that having my own website was a huge asset. I was able to say much more about myself, my teaching style and what I offered. It also meant that people could get hold of me for a proper chat for free.
My brother gave me advise on making the site more SEO friendly and getting it listed on as many free sites as possible.
This all started to generate momentum.
I then started creating fliers (these were very basic and I think the ones I produce these days are far more professional) which again helped people become aware of me.
Everything I did had to be cheap. I didn’t have the money to get things done professionally. In my naivety I hadn’t realised there were companies out there that helped with such things!
I bought magnets and stuck them on the side of the car so that everywhere I went I was telling people about Starr Tutoring.
Whilst in my day job I would use the quiet moments to sit and think how I could help the children I had started to tutor. This meant everything was tailor made and it helped to get the word spread about what I was doing. This wasn’t a one style suits all business that I had created.
I also created a Facebook page, initially it was just my own page but later I created a business one. I didn’t know what to put but it was there, it was a start. (Over the past few years this page has been invaluable for getting work. Facebook is a fantastic place for people to ask for recommendations. Once recommended the enquirer can have a quick stalk before deciding whether to contact you or not).
If you do nothing else, create your own business page. It’s free and I honestly believe that it could make a huge difference to your business.
I have recently discovered Canva (the basic package is free) which means you can add images to your posts making it look more professional. You might want to give it a try?
Building the business is a steady burn. Sadly, nothing happens overnight. I am now blogging more. Some of it is probably just regarded as noise but hopefully you will find snippets of useful information to help you grow your business. By doing this, you are also keeping the content of your website fresh so it is more likely to appear higher in the Google search engines.
It also shows that you know what you are talking about and gives people the opportunity to get to know you.
They can decide before they get in touch if they think you are going to work well together.
In the last few months I have also started the Starr Tutoring Association. It is a membership group for those who are starting tutoring or hoping to grow their tutoring business to find ideas. The ideas won’t be hugely expensive ones, they will be simple and cheap and achievable by all.
Like I said when I started tutoring, I would have loved someone there to hold my hand and guide me through the journey ahead.
The aim of the group is also so I can be that person for you.
If you want more information click here.
Good luck in your journey and whether you decide to join or not, if you want any help, please do ask.