Episode 66: The 7 steps to having a sustainable and profitable teaching business

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In this training I talk about the 7 crucial steps you need to take in order t build a teaching business of your dreams!

  1. Your vision
  2. Your success equation
  3. Who you help
  4. How you help
  5. Money
  6. Marketing
  7. Systems

Listen and let me know where you are on your journey!

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

Podcast transcription

Hey, hey, hey, and welcome to another episode of Get Richer Teacher. In this episode I  am presenting you with 7 steps to building your profitable and sustainable teaching business. It’s a repurposed video training that I’ve put together here for you so that you know what the most important things are that you need to get responsible at when it comes to building the foundations of your business. I hope you enjoy it and I’ll see you back here next week for another episode, which will be our final episode of this year. So, I’m really excited. Please come back and for now just enjoy this one. See ya. 

So, the steps that I wanted to mention today are: 

– your vision,

– your success equation,

– who you help,

– how you help them,

– money,

– marketing

– and systems. 

So, please bear with me because I will explain what all of those steps mean so that you’ve got some clarity. And even if you’ve been doing it for a while, it might be a good reminder of what you still need to consider, of what you still need to think about, especially if things haven’t been working the way you want them to work. Especially, if you can’t attract students in a regular manner, or maybe you are struggling a little bit with social media, I’m gonna give you some tips and advice for this. I also wanted to say that if you wanted to have the copy of the slides of this presentation, I would be super, super happy if you wanted to join my mailing list, because this way I will be able to send it to you via email (with also a bonus resource, which will be your own profitable language teaching business checklist, where you’ll be able to see where you are and what other things you should be focusing on in order to level up in your business). 

[1] Let’s start with your vision. The first question that I always ask people, no matter where they are in their language teaching journey, is the big WHY question. The big WHY question is extremely important because I don’t believe in motivation that comes from external factors, such as money, as much as I believe in internal motivation. The internal motivation is exactly that: the big WHY, why you want to perhaps quit working for schools or perhaps transition completely from working for schools and teaching a little bit privately on the side or maybe scaling this business, you always need to ask yourself, WHY. What is behind that decision? What motivates you the most? Is it you as a person because that’s just your dream and you’re driven? Or is it your family? Is it time? Or is it something that happened, that motivated you, perhaps a little bit negatively? Perhaps you’ve had some bad experiences at work with your managers or with whoever you worked with, and it wasn’t exactly the way you imagined that you would work. Because what I can imagine is that you are probably a very passionate individual – if you are taking part in this summit, I actually would bet my money on it. You are passionate and you know that you want to do it. Now it’s time to ask yourself, WHY. 

Then, the next thing I want you to ask yourself is what could be the obstacle to your success. And the first thing that might come to mind is something that is external, again. So, for example, there won’t be enough clients. There won’t be enough students or I won’t be able to make as much as I want to run a sustainable business. But I want you to shift that thinking because, to be honest, it’s nearly never about the external circumstances because everything that’s technical in your business – including building your offers, finding people to sell them to, finding students for your lessons, marketing, social media – all of that can be learned. All of that can be acquired but there is one thing that you’ve got the most control over, and most people don’t realise that they do, because it’s you and the way you think about it. So, the biggest obstacle to your success as a teacher entrepreneur is always going to be you. You are most likely to sabotage it. You are most likely to think that it will never work out because you might start comparing yourself to others. You might start thinking: “Oh, well, I won’t ever be as good as creating Instagram reels” or “I will never be as good at selling”. But we never realise that people who are good at certain things, they also learned, they also started somewhere. I certainly started somewhere. I also have to admit, I never studied business or marketing, but I figured it out and it’s working wonders for me. So, you have to always remind yourself that blaming the external factors is the easy choice because we don’t like to blame ourselves, but it’s not about blaming yourself – it’s about taking responsibility. It’s about taking responsibility and admitting that: yep, it’s up to me, it is up to me. So, every time a negative thought like that comes up, I want you to challenge it. I want you to think: “Okay, yeah, I’m thinking like this right now, but can it ever change? Maybe it’s temporary or maybe I can do something about it that is in my control.” Very often for me at the beginning it was the thought of – and especially when I started as a teacher-trainer – “I’m a non-native speaker of English”, and I was having massive impostor syndrome around the fact how can I tell native speakers how to teach English? Me, being a non-native speaker, and also quite inexperienced, because I was the youngest in my team of teacher-trainers in the school where I worked.

So, it’s all real. It’s all real, but I was able to shift it and I’m pretty sure that you can shift all the negative thoughts that you’ve got around yourself and your business as well. 

[2] The next thing that I want you to consider is something that I kind of came up with, but I guess I adapted a few approaches to It, is a thing that I call Your Success Equation. It’s a combination of your strengths: high level of self-awareness is really important here, knowing what you’re good at, knowing which part of teaching you are good at and you’re open to digging deeper into – maybe it’s some particular type of classes that you teach, maybe it’s part of language that you actually highly enjoy – and then looking for social proof. Social proof would be all sorts of comments and compliments and testimonials and even comments from your friends and family that you always hear about yourself. Cuz it doesn’t have to only be related to your teaching, it can be related to who you are as a person. Think deeply about it and ask the people around you for feedback if you’re struggling. I know it is actually quite hard to think about your strengths. Whenever we get asked on job interviews: β€œWhat are your strengths and weaknesses?” I bet it’s easier to come up with our weaknesses. But now, when you’re building your business, it’s actually time to think the complete opposite way because working in your business in a profitable and sustainable way is working with your strengths.

The next thing in the equation is your current students or your current trainees, or your current community – the people around you that you’re currently helping. Who are they? What have they got in common? What is this feature that makes you feel so passionate about helping them (and you know that you can help them)? Think about that, make a list. And number three is gonna be their transformation. So, how can a combination of your strengths and the social proof that you’ve got for that, plus the current people that you’ve got – without thinking of new people that you could address – cause a transformation in people that will make their life better?

What will it be? Will it be a type of language? Will it be a type of skill in language that they really need? Think about it. And this is how you come up with your equation. 

[3] Point number three is going a little bit deeper in exactly that thing: who you can help, so, your people. Many people make that mistake of going into: “Oh, okay, I’m just gonna pick a niche (because basically we’re talking about a niche) of people who can pay me a lot of money”. And I get that, I totally get that, but please remember that if you’re not passionate about something, it is a very, very shortsighted way of approaching nicheing and approaching business. You really need to feel it. You really need to be passionate about it. So, who are those people? Maybe it’s not a majority of people that you currently help or teach. Maybe there is just a certain group that lights you up. And then think about it: why them? How does it relate to the strengths that you’ve got and to the gifts that you have and can share? People often say that nicheing is basically a result of three things: your passions, your talents, and the market demand.

So, who are those people that would fall in the middle of those three things? Why them? And that’s the task that you’ve got. Because without realizing who you can help very specifically you will always feel like you’re a little bit lost, you’re like a child in the fog, because you will be trying to help everybody. I see so many people starting and saying: “I teach general English, business English, English for exams. I teach kids and teenagers, whatever you want, I’ll just give it to you” because they think that by offering everything to everybody, they expand that pool of people who might be interested. But what happens is that this way you’re not reaching anybody really, because nobody can relate. And what you want to create, actually, is a situation where you become a go-to person in your niche, in your little piece of the market that you’ve carved out for yourself. It’s so much easier. Take me as an example: I’ve started as a coach, a business coach for English language teachers. I’ve built my authority and people, obviously not the whole world, but I’ve become known for what I do, and this allowed me to expand the niche as well. So, where do you fall there? It’s also much easier to build authority when you have a much more specific group of people that you wanna help.

[4] And this is all related to point number four: how can you help those people? In other words, what offers are you going to create? Obviously, a lot of teachers start with one-to-one classes – nothing wrong with that – but if you are a person who can already see that one-to-ones are limiting, because there is only so many hours you can teach a week, and if your rates are not decent, are not high enough, then you’re going to basically work yourself to the ground. Because you will always be chasing more students and more students and never saying “no”, because you’ll be worried that if you say “no”, it will mean: “Oh, my God, I won’t make enough money” or “I will lose the current students”. There will always be that fear. And also, by the way, going back to point number one and your vision and the obstacle, those thoughts are the obstacles. You need to start shifting that. But also, you shift that by focusing on specific people that you help and creating offers that help those people and nobody else. Don’t worry that you’re not gonna help everybody. There is plenty of teachers. There is actually quite a lot of competition. But how do you stand out in the competition? You pick your own group and you have specific offers for them. Your offers may include one-to-one classes in some form of packages that will be attractive to that group of people. It might be a group course that actually speaks to their needs that 12 weeks or six months gets them where they need to be. That actually is related to my second point here: their transformation. What transformation do your people need? And don’t fall into the trap of thinking: “Oh, they just need to know more words or more grammar”, because they never do. Usually, people need to speak more fluently – unless it’s a very specific kind of niche where they need writing for an exam or something – but most people need to be fluent. They need to be fluent for a very specific reason: maybe it’s a job that they are looking to find or maybe it’s a career prospect that they are trying to improve. Where are your people and where do they need to get? Because this will dictate what offers you create. One-to-ones have that kind of benefit of being bespoke, so you can absolutely create things that would work with a lot of people because you can always say: “Oh, I just give you what you need”. But it’s much easier, and actually contributes to you avoiding burnout, if you have similar people in your niche, because then you don’t have to create different programs for one-to-ones for your students. Think about these. 

[5] Then the next thing is obviously money and let’s not lie: perhaps you didn’t go into education – and especially teaching English as a foreign language – because of money. I don’t know many people who would think that it’s a profitable business to be in, but at the moment, I’m 100% sure that teachers and other business owners can totally create a reality for themselves where money is just an addition, where money is a decent remuneration for what they do, and it actually creates the reality of freedom and profitability that they want. Because the fact that people cannot afford something is #1: not our problem, you shouldn’t be thinking about that because you’re not responsible for whether people can or can’t afford something. But also #2: we need to think that if we are not making money, then somebody else is. I’m gonna give you an example: I worked in a language school in London where teachers were paid around 20 pounds an hour, but students were charged 75 pounds for 45 minutes of a lesson. See how that works: if you are not charging for your lessons, then somebody else is charging decently. So, you can basically do whatever you want. Obviously, it takes time to get the trust and the authority and to become, as I said, the go-to person in your niche so you can charge those rates, but this is what it comes down to. Then the next thing is also that I bet you want to make a sustainable living out of your business. Maybe you are at that stage where you wanna transition from working for schools to working for yourself, and this is literally the way: you need to think like a business person here. You need to start feeling okay about asking for money, and I wonder: are there any thoughts in you that are kind of difficult for you to shift at the moment? Things like: “Yeah, maybe education should be affordable for everybody” or maybe: “Oh, there is too much competition, so I will never be able to charge X, Y, Z because everybody else charges X, Y, Z”. If you are thinking that, this is called a limiting belief and the only way to shift that is by acknowledging that it’s even there. I’m not saying that you can suddenly jump from charging 10 pounds or $10 an hour to charging 100 because it takes time, and as I said, it takes building trust, it takes building a brand for yourself, as well. But it can totally be doable because I see it every day. I see my clients reach $10,000 a month – and I don’t like to talk about those numbers because I feel that there are more important things for them, but also let’s stop being ashamed that we want to make decent money as teachers. So, where are you at with your money situation? How confident are you that you’re charging what you’re worth for your one-to-ones offers or for your courses? 

[6] Point number six, and the sixth step in building your business, is your marketing. And one of the most common things that I see in teachers who try and market themselves, especially online, is that they have this belief that if people need my service, they will just come. Unfortunately, that’s the opposite of how marketing works. Marketing is extremely proactive. As long as you stay stuck in thinking: “I’m just gonna build a website and wait for people to come”, you are doing yourself a massive disservice. I’m not saying be everywhere, jump out of people’s fridges – absolutely not – but you just have to remember that it takes effort. It’s a job. That’s why also your business cannot be 95% teaching, and the rest maybe – if you have time and space – marketing. You have to have balance between time that you spend marketing yourself and serving your clients. I call it working on your business and in your business. When you work in your business, you basically become your own employee – you’re just a teacher. But when you work on your business, you understand that it’s extremely important to also think about other things: how the business grows, how you become known to people. There are thousands of ways of marketing yourself, and absolutely use social media because it’s free. Just don’t think that, for example, posting free lessons is marketing because it’s not, unfortunately, it’s not and also it doesn’t help anybody. As a teacher-trainer as well I’m very, very conservative about that view that providing people with more learning content is not helping anybody. There needs to be balance, and I’m not saying don’t do it at all, but using Word-of-the-Day kind of content or only thinking that your role as a teacher is to pass on knowledge is very limiting – not only for yourself because it’s not marketing and also for your students because then they never become autonomous. They never get responsibility for their own learning, which we actually want them to do – depending on who you teach, obviously, if they’re kids, that’s absolutely a different story – but that’s just something to keep in mind. Also think about the fact that we don’t own social media. So, as soon as possible, try and build an email list, try and send newsletters, think about having more deeper content, such as a podcast or a blog – something that will, again, build that professional vision of you and authority within your brand. 

[7] And a final point, a final step is your systems. What are systems? These are ways your business works so it’s not overwhelming, so you avoid burnout, and so you can work smarter and not harder. I identify at least 7 systems in business in the courses that I teach, and they’re absolutely crucial in you understanding that, again, now – as a business owner – you are not just a teacher. You also are responsible. You’re basically the CEO of your business. You are responsible for your own marketing, for your growth, for the vision for the future, for the goals that you set. You’re also responsible for customer service. You’re also responsible for generating leads into your business, for creating content. Don’t treat all of those things like a chore – I mean, absolutely, at some point it’s beautiful and you absolutely should outsource some of those things, especially the ones that are not exactly something that you enjoy – but think about the fact that there needs to be awareness around how you run the business because it’s not just teaching and then in the free time finding your students. It’s so much more than that. So, the systems that I mentioned – it all comes down to marketing; it comes down to lesson planning and prepping your courses or content that you provide your students or your clients with; it also is things like how you organise your weeks; it also is your social media presence and a few other things that I really, really recommend that you start thinking about. So, where are you at the moment? Do you work on your business or in your business more? Is there an imbalance between that? How are you going to make it a little bit more balanced for yourself? I actually have a task for you; I’m a massive, massive believer in taking action from everything that you learn, because otherwise it just goes one way in and out the other. So, I’ve prepared some questions for you that I really encourage you to answer on a piece of paper. 

I want you to ask yourself: 

– What is your bigger vision? 

– What is your success equation? 

– Who can you help?

– How can you help them? What offers can you create?

– How will you go about money in your business?

– How will you go about marketing in your business?

– How will you make sure that you work smart rather than hard in your business?

And once you’ve answered all of that, make sure that you go back to those answers as well because it’s extremely important that you keep reminding yourself that this is a business now, not just you doing your job for somebody else. You are responsible for so much more, and the more you realise and take ownership of that, the better for you.