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5 Tutoring Business Lessons for New Owners

5 Tutoring Business Lessons for New Owners

Starting a private tutoring business can be tough, but with the right strategies and tools, you can increase your chances of success. In this article, Michael Gao of Dewey Smart shares valuable lessons from his experience building a popular online tutoring service. From finding the right administration system to adding value beyond tutoring and hiring the best tutors, discover how to take your tutoring business to the next level.


Michael went from zero to 50+ tutors on his team in less than 6 years. So whether you're a teacher who's looking to start a tutoring service business or a high-scoring student who's looking to help peers as a side hustle — let's dive in. 

So you want to start a private tutoring business

After the foundational items, like picking a business name, establishing a business structure, deciding which subjects you'll be covering (math tutoring, test prep, etc), which grade level, and what your tutor pricing should be. Here are some of the key things to consider as you're building out your private tutoring business. 

1. Find a better tutoring admin system earlier on

Although it's easy to get started with a Google form and spreadsheet, if you're confident that you are going to be growing this business beyond yourself — it'll become very important, very quickly, to find a scalable administration system to help you manage your clients and your team. 

By staying with the free solutions, you will have legacy data that live in excel sheets and it'll be next to impossible to connect that data with other functions of the business without a lot of manual work. 

Speaking of manual work, also consider the time costs of manual tasks like creating an invoice, scheduling through emails, and more. Those tasks are opportunity costs of finding new business and growing your client base. 

We might be a little biased, but Practice is a great platform for online tutoring businesses or tutoring centers to consolidate, organize and track client progress and fulfillment. 

2. Best value for your tutors are LEADS

As you start growing your tutoring client base, you'll hire your first tutor, then your second... and soon you'll have a team of 1099s tutors that can serve many more students than you could ever do as a sole proprietorship. In order to keep your tutors engaged and have them focused on delivering a great tutoring experience, you want to focus on two simple things: 

  • Bringing in leads for them (Thumbtack is a great marketplace for tutors)
  • Giving them tools that reduce admin work on their end

A tip on how to split your pricing with your tutors: industry standard ranges from 60-80% margin. 

3. What value are you adding on top of your tutors?

If your goal is to build a tutoring agency (i.e. a company of tutors versus just a single tutor business), then you will need to think about what value your company is bringing to your clients — outside of the actual tutoring. Here are some examples: 

  • Become a "one-stop shop" of subject matters (english, math, test prep, etc)
  • A seamless client experience (easy to schedule, ability to pay online by credit card or via invoice) 
  • Additional wrap around support
  • A deep and comprehensive database of tutoring resources
  • A dedicated tutoring community

Yes, the tutoring experience is incredibly important, but it is only a piece of the client experience. Make sure to have a 

4. For tax season: do your 1099s earlier

This is one of those niche lessons that can only be learned once you've experienced the downside. Your obligation is to do it before the deadline, but your tutors might not receive it in time for their taxes if it's down to the wire.

Simple advice: do it a month before the deadline. And to help out your team even more, send them a list of tax deductions for tutors

5. Start with a tutoring niche

It can be tempting to start your business with five different subjects. But strategically, it's often better to be well known for doing one subject really well, and then expanding.

As an example, there are many large companies that are dedicated entirely to test prep, and then even more companies that niche down further into a certain type of test prep (SAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc). 

If you were taking the LSAT, would you prefer to go to a company that focuses solely on the LSAT and does it really, really well? Or a place that offers it as one of many subjects? Most would choose the former. 


We hope this advice was helpful. Starting and building a tutoring business can be an incredible journey, and hopefully this will help you smooth out the ride just a tiny bit. Whether you're tutoring online, or in-person at home, check out Practice to help you manage your clients and team from a single place. 

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