India too falls under this category, and the language that has worked its way into our system is the English language. The boom in the IT and BPO sector too has rendered a good knowledge of the English language a necessity. Cashing in on this, many private institutions have set up English coaching classes to help the young and the old alike master the language. So here’s how you can be a part of this industry.
Fluency in English: Whether you intend to be part of the teaching faculty or not, you still need to have excellent English language skills to begin with. Your interactions with the teaching staff and students are part of the business, which needs to be represented well.
Staffing and organisational skills: Hiring teaching staff will be the least of your worries, but managing their schedules and utilising their time effectively will be one of your biggest challenges.
Leadership skills: You must be confident and completely at ease with your role as a leader. Apart from setting up, you will have additional responsibilities like promoting your business, deciding pay scale for employees based on their roles, and creating an ambient classroom infrastructure to aid the learning process. Your experience and skills as a leader is quiet important to execute these details and several others successfully.
Public speaking: Whether it is for promotional activities or to simply welcome a new batch of students, you will be sent up into the podium quiet often. Your confidence as a public speaker can make or break your institution’s reputation.
Create a business plan: This is the first step for all business enterprises. It has to be presented to investors or lenders to help them envision your setup and future. It also gives you a concrete plan to follow and remain prepared for the highs and lows you are bound to face when you start up.
Figure out your finances: You will have to rent or lease a commercial area and convert the space into a well equipped learning centre. This will probably be you biggest expense. Add to that recruiting staff, housekeeping and security services and you will need a substantial capital no matter how much you try to downsize.
You have to be able to afford at least a third of these costs as investors will want to ensure your stake in it as well. Commercial lenders too will contribute the rest depending only on your personal assets and the scope of your business.
Location and staff: There are ample English coaching classes that operate out of homes and around residential areas in the hope of encouraging more admissions. However, finding a commercial space closer to schools, colleges and more importantly private businesses is the key to attracting clientele. Similarly, employing certified and experienced staff members will also solicit good business.
Consider a franchise set up: Since most people gravitate towards reputed educational centres, you should consider franchise options too.
Classifying your students: Most foreign language instruction centres have an assessment system to place their learners in the beginner or advanced category. Classifying your students in appropriate batches according to their grasp of the subject is important to ensure uniform progress in the class. You can also offer them various training packages to allow clients to pick classes that best suit their needs.
- Expenses: The standard expenses you are likely to incur while setting up are for:
- Interior decoration and centre infrastructure like computers, air conditioners, lights, projectors and more
- Study material for courses offered
- Overhead expenses like insurance, legal fees, electricity bills, travel expenses, telephone and internet bills
- Employees’ salary
- Maintenance and upkeep
- Office supplies and promotional kits
- Registration expenses
Restrictions and permits to obtain
Considering the multitude of English training centres and other coaching centres that have mushroomed across India, it is little wonder that the government has increased its vigil over the industry. Registering an English teaching business is not mandatory in all states, depending on your income and the size of your operations. Since 2003, service tax has been levied on services rendered by commercial training and coaching centres. Therefore, you will have to get a PAN card and professional tax registrations.
If your annual profits exceed Rs 9 – 10 lakhs, you will have to register your services. It can be registered under the Shop and Establishment Act. You will need the assistance of labour law practitioners to verify further details. Some states have a clear mandate for registering coaching institutes of any kind under their respective acts and regulations like the Bihar Coaching Institute (Control & Regulation) Act, 2010.
This act has made it compulsory for all institutes in Bihar to furnish details such as the number of students enrolled, staff employed and specify the infrastructure made available to the students. The coaching centres will also have to provide students with a prospectus and detail the course structure, fees structure, and the experience and qualification of the teaching faculty. In Tamil Nadu too, registering coaching centres is mandatory. On filing for registration, you may be asked to submit information pertaining to your set up and infrastructure and to verify the same, local authorities may conduct an inspection.
On passing the inspection, you will receive a registration certificate valid for three years. You will be subject to another inspection at the end of three years to renew the same.
Other states like West Bengal do not call for registration. The registration for all coaching centres can be made compulsory under the The Coaching Centres (Regulation and Control) Bill, 2007 on any date specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazzette, but until then you have to operate as per your state laws.
Challenges you are likely to face
Given the number of English teaching academies in India, your biggest setback is getting clients to take you seriously. A more innovative curriculum and well strategized promotional activities can help, but the only thing guaranteed to work is ensuring you rise where others fail: excellent teaching faculty, superior instruction and a conducive environment.
And when you do succeed, the next tripping stone would be accommodating more students than healthy. Your quality of teaching is likely to lose its lustre when your classrooms and faculty are both overloaded. Consider expanding into new areas when the time comes or increasing the number of classes available instead.
You must also realise the importance of promoting your business in the right platform and building up a strong client base. Going into business with only coaching skills in place and without any concrete business strategies has been the reason for the downfall of many budding English teaching institutes.
Promoting your business and attracting clients
There are too many poorly written advertisements for English lessons in newspapers and magazines, not to mention poor quality flyers too. So you will have to invest well in advertising and promotional activities to steer clear of the much trodden path.
As far as establishing clientele goes, your best bet is to start off by offering training programs for corporates. Approach them and offer your services to conduct fresher’s training and workshops for interpersonal skills, writing etiquette, etc.
If you can expand your activities, you can also have a small event management team. Most of us are impressed when we see a good host at an event – there can be no better way to promote your business. In fact, you can allow good presenters to conduct weekly interactive sessions to take a break from tenses and clauses. These USPs tend to sell your business better than any advertisement can.
You can have an early learner program for children, offering them classes at convenient hours during the weekends or during school holidays. To beat packed weekends and less popular weekday classes, consider offering good discounts for weekday sessions to make sure you have more students and clients taking classes through the week as well. Also, set up easy payment plans and trial sessions to encourage clients.
However, if you would just like to test the waters with minimal investment, freelancing is an excellent option. You can work out of home, advertising your services online. You can offer to conduct lessons either from your home or go to your clients’. Carving a niche for yourself in the corporate sector gives you better visibility too.
You can access more clients this way and even set up a strong client base to help you get started. It’s also much easier to plan your infrastructure with an idea of how many students you can expect on a regular basis. Your business plan and profit forecasts will also have a reliable foundation. And you don’t have to do it yourself: you can encourage others to join you to make sure you have a wider reach.
Like any other business, the teaching business too needs a website to promote its presence. The Internet is where most young professionals and students look for information, so make your presence felt. If you are looking for low investment options, it’s easy enough to format an informative website online for free.
Immaterial of the competition rampant in this arena, the requirement for quality English instruction is till high. So you’ll do well for yourself if you have all the essentials in place.
Small Business Software
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