When I graduated from university, I remember having several thoughts echoing in my head about music teaching.
What was the next step? How will I support myself? Where will I find a job?
My goal was to do become a successful piano teacher, with time to play gigs at weekends and evenings during the week.
But I wanted to do things the right way...
I knew I had to take into account all the important issues about setting up a business. And I thought a business plan would help to collate all my ideas, ensure I wouldn't overlook anything important...
...and avoid making any poor business decisions!
Here is the process I used to come up with my business plan.
1) What's the name of your business?You can use your name, or something unique and catchy.
2) What is the nature of the business?Guitar teaching... Obviously.
3) Describe your target marketWho do you want to teach? This is really important.
School pupils? Business professionals? The retired?
Think about this in GREAT detail.
Try and find out more information about your target market. For school pupils, your local authority should have information on the number of them in your area. You can also use various websites to find specific demographics for your town; age, education level, employment industry, household income etc.
4) Business objectives for next 3 yearsWrite down your aims for each year over the next 3 years. Be realistic, but give yourself something to aim for.
5) Financial informationIf you need a loan to get started, forecast your projections and profit margin.
It is really important to keep track of your income and expenditure. Buy yourself a receipt book and provide your clients with a receipt for each payment. You might want to consider using some online tutoring software to make the task easier.
Your Business Idea
1) Background to your businessOutline the type of business you intend to operate.
2) Your experienceWhat experience do you have as a guitar teacher? Include your education and work experience (Doing this will be useful if you decide to have a website and want to have an "About" page to help establish your credentials)
3) Information on your businessWhat makes you different from the competition? What is your Unique Selling Point (USP) or Emotional Selling Point (ESP)?
What can you offer differently? E.g. do you specialize in helping teenagers pass certain guitar exams? Or helping younger pupils just play for fun? Can you offer flexibility with your lesson payments - 1, 2 or 4 lessons a month. Do you offer group lessons? Can students pay weekly, monthly and/or termly?
Marketing and Competition
1) What market research have you undertaken?How large is the market? - How many people in your town/city do you think will want lessons?
What can you charge per lesson? - Although you might want to offer cheaper lessons than your competitors, you should charge what you are worth.
It's easy to undercut the competition, but it's often NOT the right strategy.
Try to focus on value and have a good USP. People will pay if they see you're a good tutor. If you start off offering cheap lessons, it can be tricky to raise prices, especially if you gain some referrals from students who know each other.
You can always contact local teachers and find how much they charge.
I know plenty of piano teachers who charge £10 less per hour than me, but they are mainly classical pianists, and my USP is offering jazz/popular music on the piano in my area.
2) What are the future trends? How will this impact on your business?Although this can be tricky to figure out, if you're a guitar teacher, contact other music teachers offering lessons on other instruments. Do they have more students than 2-3 years ago? Do they teach more school pupils now than before?
You can also use Google Trends to see whether your search terms online have been increasing or decreasing in recent years. This is really useful if you plan to tutor students online, but in my experience, it often mirrors local trends as well.
3) What are the needs/aspirations of your customers?If you're a guitar teacher, will students want to play for fun? Become future musicians? Perform at local concerts every so often?
Understanding this can be extremely useful when it comes to advertising.
4) Who are your competitors?Competition can be viewed in different ways.
Many people in business think of it in a negative way, but I've always had a positive approach to competition. If you have competitors, it means there is likely a market for your business. You just need to market yourself the right way.
And for most types of music teaching, you can always teach online if you are really struggling to find local clients.
5) How do your competitors market their products/services?How are they positioned in the market place? Do they place any ads in the local paper, Yellow Pages or use Google Adwords? Or do you think it is mainly word of mouth...
Carry Out a SWOT Analysis of Your Business IdeaI remember doing one of these when I was studying Business Studies at school:)
1) StrengthsWhat can you do better than the competition?
2) WeaknessesWhere do think you might face problems with your business?
3) OpportunitiesWhat opportunities are there for growth and finding more students?
4) ThreatsHow likely is it you will face more competition in the future? Or face a declining number of students?
1) PriceWhat is your pricing structure? Have you allowed sufficient margin to cover overheads, materials, your time, and still obtain a sustainable profit margin?
2) PlaceWhere will you promote and sell your services? E.g. public venues, schools, libraries, sports centers, local stores? Will you use flyers, posters and/or the internet to find students?
OperationsWhere will the business operate from? Why is this choice the most suitable?
If possible, I would advise you to teach from a fixed location and NOT in the homes of your students as you will waste time and money on travel costs. However, parents with young children may prefer the tuition to take place at their place, particularly if they don't know you, so that the child can feel safe and comfortable in a familiar environment.
What equipment or facilities do you need to operate your business? Will you design some tutoring business cards to reach out to your target audience.
Financial ForecastsExpand on your business objectives for the next 3 years - what is your predicted turnover, costs and profit for Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3.
If you have a bank loan, what will be your payment to financiers - bank charges etc.
So there you have it!
I firmly believe if you have a good plan, the right setup, offer quality teaching and market your business the right way, you can have a flourishing guitar teaching business and earn a good income as a result.
I know a couple of musicians who live in nice 3-4 bedroom homes in the leafy suburbs around London.
One singing teacher I know teaches 50 students a week and charges about £50 per hour. He lives in a tiny village about 1 hour from London by car and has a waiting list. If you try and work out what his income could be annually, it's certainly impressive! Furthermore, he doesn't teach online and all his students come to him. He simply created a detailed plan and came up with an effective way to market his business.
About the Author:
Martyn Croston helps music teachers who want to build a successful tutoring business. He shares more advice on his website.