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OK, so you’ve made a decision to start teaching for yourself and actually have a teaching business. But you might be worried that you’ll make some mistakes. Which are totally normal, by the way. This is how we learn!

So today, I wanted to help you out and talk about the 7 typical mistakes people often make at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey and how to avoid them.

Listen to my latest podcast episode to find out what they are and how to prepare for not making them!

Thanks for tuning into the Get Richer Teacher Podcast! If you enjoyed today’s episode, head over to Apple Podcasts to subscribe, rate, and leave your honest review. Connect with me on Instagram, visit my website for even more detailed strategies, and be sure to share your favourite episodes on social media. Get your free marketing 10 ways to find students for your language classes here.

Now, it’s time to go get richer, teacher!

Podcast transcription

Hey and welcome to the Get Richer Teacher podcast. My name is Ola and I’ll be your guide and mentor on your way to realising your potential as an educator. If the title of the podcast is triggering, that’s even better because that means that I still have some work to do. My mission is to help teachers work independently and believe that they deserve more freedom and more money.

As a teacher, you are allowed to work with your perfect students rather than some random people challenging how much you charge and asking why so much. If you are ready to become a richer teacher, build and scale an independent teaching business that can support your dreams and your lifestyle, then you are in the right place.

The world knows that teachers are superheroes. Let’s get paid what we’re worth, shall we? 

Hey, teacher, and welcome to another episode that is specifically dedicated to teachers at the beginning of their language teaching business journey. In this episode, I wanted to talk to you about the seven mistakes to avoid when setting up your business.

And again, I wanted to say that if you have been doing that business thing for a while, you may listen to it as well to make sure that you’re not making those mistakes and get inspired. All right, so let’s dive in. So before I even start, I wanted to remind you that there is a very cool event happening on the 7th of November 2022 – in case you listen to it far in the future – and it’s an event for teachers setting up their businesses. So people who only just want to quit working for schools or transition completely from working to schools plus teaching some private students to teaching for themselves only. It will teach you ways of marketing yourself and some essentials of how to set up a business. So I hope to see you there – the link to signups is in the description of the episode. Alrighty. Let’s start. 

[MISTAKE 1] One of the most common mistakes that people make – and I know why that is and I’m gonna tell you why that is – is comparing yourself to others. Now, when you’re starting something new, such as a business, it’s completely normal to look for inspiration, to look at other teachers. Maybe you’ve actually been doing it subconsciously without the intention of wanting to open your own business but what other people have been doing has inspired you to open your own business and that’s perfect. That’s absolutely fantastic. But the trick is not to get too far because comparisonitis is an actual disease… I’m joking – it’s not a disease, but it’s a cool word, isn’t it? So if you are comparing yourself to others, you are doing yourself a massive disservice. One: you don’t know where those people are in their own journey in setting up their business. Number two: they are completely different people. So the fact that they’ve used a certain strategy, the fact that they post certain things on social media or the fact that they charge a certain rate, doesn’t mean that this is the right solution for you.

I am such a massive believer, an advocate of not one size fits all, not using blueprints and  things that work for everybody because there is no such thing. I believe in freedom so much that there are thousands of solutions – there are as many solutions as there are people basically.

So if you compare yourself to others, that’s just stupid. That’s just stupid, plain stupid because there is nothing to compare. You are your unique self and if you listen to last week’s episode, I’ve told you that the sooner you start realising how unique you are because of your strengths, because of how you’ve helped people, because of how your unique personality traits show up and what you’re good at when it comes to your job as a teacher, then you will see that there is nothing to compare. And the final point here is that comparing your own chapter 1 to somebody’s chapter 20 is absolutely pointless. I hope you get that metaphor and let’s finish at that.

[MISTAKE 2] Point number two is procrastination. Such a big mistake. I’ve recently received a message on Instagram from someone who said that they don’t know whether it’s not too late for them to start a business. So they actually said that they think they might be too old. And I’m like: I totally understand that because the longer you wait, the more you think like that.

So basically it’s a vicious circle. There is no such thing as a perfect moment for something. There is only the moment when it’s gonna be too late – and it’s when you die, literally. So when you die, you know that you won’t have a chance to do what you’ve always wanted to do. So if there is this thought, there is a sparkle there, this little thing that’s been going on around your head for years – because maybe you’ve been working in state education for 20 years and I’ve had those people come and reach out to me – then follow it. It’s your gut, it’s your intuition and it’s never wrong. Believe me: if there is one thing that I’ve learned about business is listening to myself and my own gut. It has never failed me. So if you’re waiting for something, then just ask yourself what you are waiting for. Because most likely it’s an excuse.

[MISTAKE 3] Point number three: offering everything to everyone. I know: when you’re first starting, it’s just hard, it’s hard to pick. There is this misconception that if you have a very wide offering, you widen the pool of people who might be interested in your teaching services. But, actually, it’s the opposite because when you’re trying to reach everybody, you’re not reaching anyone because your content is not relatable, because your offers are too generic because you’re just not focused enough.

I know how hard it can be because you’re a teacher and you wanna help everybody but for your own sake and for the sake of people who you can actually help, pick a group of people that you will help. 

[MISTAKE 4] The next thing is not setting boundaries. So teachers are very, very specific creatures and they are by nature very caring; they are by nature very much people who are likely to sacrifice themselves; they think about others more than they think about themselves. And again, they often take it to an extreme: they let people dictate the rules of working with them, of their personal life… The amount of posts I see on social media – especially on Facebook groups for teachers – asking like: “Oh, somebody canceled a lesson five minutes before, should I forgive them? And it’s happened 10 times before” and I’m like: Oh my goodness, why is that even a question? Why? One – ask yourself: is that bothering you? Because if it is, then yes, you have an obligation, a duty towards yourself to do something about it, to set the boundaries, and to make people respect you. Because if you don’t set those rules and boundaries, people will likely abuse them.

Even though people are not mean by default, they will use whatever you give them and if you give them the freedom to do whatever they want with your time and with your resources, they will. So by boundaries I mean not having contracts for example. If you don’t have a contract in your teaching business – a contract that doesn’t have to be something super legal but it will set the rules of cooperation with you, between you and your students – then that is a big mistake.

[MISTAKE 5] The next point I wanted to raise which is actually related to the previous one is asking wrong people for advice. Oh my goodness! So many people crowdsource things that they don’t know in their businesses, so they ask on Facebook groups, they ask family and friends and they never realise that one: those people might not be their ideal clients. Two: those people might have experience in business but they might have completely different experiences and very often there isn’t enough context to know whether that advice is true. And then the whole story with friends and family: unfortunately, friends and family are never gonna be your clients. If they are, then I would reconsider because from experience I know it’s very, very hard to manage that.

And the other thing is that people always have their own limiting beliefs. They always have a filter through which they think about things, so they will project that filter onto you. So you might even disagree with something but you will think that: “Oh, OK, my partner told me, my husband, my wife told me so I should probably listen”.

People do mean well but it doesn’t mean that it will be the correct advice for you. So what could you do instead? You could ask people who actually know or have been there and ask whether they think that this will be the right solution for you or ask for a lot of different perspectives. Because people who are kind of skilled at giving advice would never present their solution as the ultimate solution. That’s also my role as a coach: I never give people solutions as ultimate solutions. I give them suggestions and ask them what they would think – that’s why my clients get so annoyed because I always ask them: “What do you think?”

[MISTAKE 6] The next mistake – the 6th one – would be Googling everything. Oh my God, guys! You cannot believe how many hours I wasted Googling stuff that somebody could have just told me. So I would’ve avoided literally months of being frustrated and wasting time on things that were just pointless and not relevant.

Because there is always an answer somewhere and I don’t absolutely mean that being resourceful and searching for answers is a bad thing but you need to be careful with what you do and how you spend your time because time is one of the biggest assets in your business. You are the biggest one and then your time is the second thing. So Googling everything and just relying on finding all the information for free unfortunately may lead to burnout. It definitely led me to burnout. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that situation but have you noticed that sometimes when you pay for something you kind of value it more and you are more likely to take action on it because you just put that additional pressure on yourself: “Hey, I’ve paid for it, so I now have to, right?” With free information it’s just like, oh… you get overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do and you tend to actually procrastinate even more. So I would just consider that. 

[MISTAKE 7] Then, finally, it’s a mistake but it’s a hard one; it’s a hard one: it’s not thinking big enough. It’s something I mentioned in the previous episode but it’s just so common that teachers don’t think that they are capable of certain things, that they are capable of building actual businesses. The common theme is: I’m just a teacher. You’re not just a teacher, you’re a teacher and that comes with some awesome superpowers and strengths. And actually not everybody goes into teaching and I think the special people do. So remind yourself what special features and strengths you’ve got that make you and give you a leverage over other people. Because if you don’t remind yourself, nobody else will. So it’s up to you to think big, to believe in yourself, and to finally start crushing that limiting belief that you’re not good enough.

Because it all comes down to that. If you think that: “Oh, I’m a non-native speaker” or “Oh, I’m too old” or “I’m not good at tech” or “I’m not good with money”, or “I’m very bad at organization”, all that it comes down to is that you don’t think that you’re good enough. So what if you flipped that script for you? What if you started believing that it’s all possible? It is totally possible. There is strategy needed; there is help needed; there are lots of new skills and lot’s of knowledge needed and hurdles and fails, and all sorts of things on the way. But what if you started to believe that it is available for you? Wouldn’t that be easier? Wouldn’t that be a bigger motivator for you to stop procrastinating? 

So, I hope this has been helpful; let me know which of those mistakes have resonated with you and if you are thinking about building your own business, then again – just wanted to remind you – that I would love to meet you at my webinar on the 7th of November and help you set up your business for success from scratch because you can. You totally can. That’s why I’m running it and that’s when I also open doors to my lovely community of richer teachers. You’re more than welcome to read about it for now. If you wanna join us, on the 7th, that would be absolutely amazing and I would love, love, love to meet you there. Because again: my mission is to help teachers see that they can achieve bigger things than what they think they’re capable of.

So again: hope to see you there and I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and I’ll see you back here next week. 

It’s not your fault that you don’t know how to make good money as a teacher or how to market your teaching. Nobody’s ever taught you but I’m on a mission to change that. Teachers make the world a better place and they can be excellent at business. They just need direction. That’s what I’m giving you here and on my YouTube channel under the same name. Make sure that you also follow me on Instagram @ola_coaches_teachers and check out my website: www.olakowalska.com to see if any of my paid offers, including my one-to-one coaching, my business foundation course “The Rocket”, or my membership for teachers in business could be the right fit for you.

I’ll see you soon in the next episode.