Starting a Home Based Tutoring Business

Jeanne Grunert
Tutoring is one idea for a home based business.
Tutoring is one idea for a home based business.

Before starting a home based tutoring business, assess your personal qualifications as well as your commitment to begin a business. Like any business endeavor, there are certain steps you'll need to take in the beginning to successfully establish your business and comply with local laws.

Types of Tutoring

If you have a college degree or higher or perhaps a teaching certificate, starting a home based tutoring business is an attractive proposition. There's very little in start up costs, and you can work from home around your family's schedule. Before hanging up your shingle and inviting people into your home, consider the following.

Specialty by Age

There are many different types of tutoring. Some tutors specialize in working with little children while others prefer to work with college-age students. Are you particularly suited to working with a certain age bracket?

Specialty by Subject

In addition to focusing on a specific age group or age range, tutors often have an area of specialty. Whether it's reading or math, determine whether or not you'll specialize in certain subjects. There's always a strong demand for reading, math and science tutors.

High Stakes Exams

Another niche type of tutoring is preparing students for standardized tests. Many parents worry that their children are unprepared for state-sponsored tests. Some state tests given to 10th grade students are called "exit exams" because students must pass these test in order to be awarded a high school diploma. States such as California, Florida and many others require such tests. There's a high demand for tutors who can work with students and prepare them in the skills needed to pass these high-stakes tests.

College Preparation Exams

Another lucrative tutoring area is preparing students for college entrance exams. These tests include the SAT, the ACT, and other tests such as the SAT Subject Tests, the Advanced Placement Program (AP Program) exams, and the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams. While there's a plethora of school-based and private companies offering preparation for all of these tests, some students benefit from working one on one with a tutor, and you may be able to offer test preparation tutoring in addition to your other tutoring services.

Starting a Home Based Tutoring Business

While you can easily put an add in the local newspaper and find students to tutor, you should take your time to establish a location, proper insurance, licenses and credentials before advertising your tutoring business.

Check Zoning Regulations

If you plan to offer tutoring in your home, check on your home's zoning requirements. These should be available at the local town hall. Some locations forbid commercial enterprises run out of a private home. This is to reduce on-street parking and people coming and going from a location. Such restrictions are put in place to keep residential neighborhoods quiet. If you're not sure about your house's zone and what's permitted, talk to someone at your town hall, town clerk's office, or a local attorney.

If your home is not zoned for any business, even a professional business, you can still run a tutoring business. The local pubic library may be a great place to meet with prospective students. Many have small rooms set aside for studying and tutoring. Another option may be your local church, temple or civic organizations, if they have a building they rent.

Licenses and Credentials

Tutors do not need teaching licenses, but you should consider registering your business. Talk to a business attorney about the pros and cons of operating your business as a sole proprietorship, an LLC corporation, or an S or C corporation. Remember, any money you take for tutoring is business income. It must be declared on your tax return and the appropriate social security, state and local taxes must be paid. Find and talk to an accountant to understand how to track income and what needs to be paid when.Even though you do not need a teaching license, having teaching experience is helpful. It's also essential to have at least a college degree or higher. Generally the higher the degree, the more money you can charge. Parents want to know that someone who understands the subject matter is in charge of their children's tutoring.

Getting Started Tutoring

Most tutors find that word-of-mouth advertising from happy parents and students gains them more clients than they can handle. Start by offering tutoring to neighborhood children, or hang a flyer (where permitted) in the grocery store or other community bulletin boards. Have inexpensive business cards printed and hand them out to parents at local functions.

Set aside a clean, bright and well lit room with a table and desk. If you do not have a separate room, be sure to eliminate all distractions from the tutoring session. Do not, for example, tutor in the family room where you own children are watching cartoons.

When working with students, keep notes on each child's progress. Generally speaking, tutoring blocks of 45 minutes each are appropriate. Schedule tutoring sessions in your own personal planner for an hour and use the 15-minute window between appointments to take notes on the session, including anything the child must do for 'homework' before the next appointment.

If running tutoring from your home, be sure to check your home owner's insurance. Many will not cover businesses or claims due to business activities, and a home tutoring business is considered a business activity. If a child trips and falls on the steps and the parents sue you, will you have insurance to cover it? Talk to your insurance agent about additional coverage to protect you and your family as well as a business attorney to ensure you are protecting yourself.

Starting a Home Based Tutoring Business