Our interview with private tutor, agency owner and entrepreneur, Victoria Olubi
Since 2010, Victoria Olubi has been working as a private tutor in London. Her success as a freelance tutor led her to establishing her own tutoring agency called The Tutoress, working with a team of hand-picked tutors, delivering tuition to students all over London. Having been featured prominently in online publications, Victoria really understands how to market a private tutoring business. Her Tutoress blog was also featured in our recent list of The Best 11 Plus Resources. We caught up with Victoria for a Q&A to discuss the strategy behind her success and her thoughts on the private tutoring industry.
What made you first decide to become a private tutor in London?
I initially fell into tutoring by accident. A local parent asked me to teach their child and I agreed simply because I love teaching and wanted to help out. The student did exceptionally well in his exams and I enjoyed every moment of teaching him. Soon afterwards word spread and I started receiving dozens of enquiries for tuition which made me realise that this was my calling.
You started out as a freelance tutor in 2010 and you’ve since grown your business into a successful tutoring agency. How did you make the leap from being freelance to hiring other tutors?
It happened simply because people started emailing me to ask if I could refer work to them. However, it was important to me to ensure that the quality other tutors provided would match my own standard of teaching and so I decided that handpicking my tutors and training them would be a vital part of my business.
One of the services that The Tutoress offers is 11 Plus Bootcamps. Can tell us a bit more about what these courses involve?
The 11 Plus Bootcamps are essentially short, highly concentrated courses that enable 11 Plus students to receive very thorough preparation in a fairly short time frame. Many of our students come from expat or international backgrounds so often enough they've only had a few weeks or months to prepare. The courses give them a chance to identify weak points and make quick progress. Our students learn a lot but they also have fun and build valuable life skills during the course.
It’s clear from your website and your online presence that you have a real skill for marketing. What advice would you give to new tutors looking to improve their marketing efforts?
I'd recommend that tutors spend time learning about marketing and develop their business skills. A lot of tutors are great at teaching but do no marketing at all which limits them. I think it's vital for tutors to view this as a business and invest time in improving their business skills.
You’re the author of several 11 Plus guides as well as an acclaimed book called Become a Private Tutor: How to Start and Build a Profitable and Successful Tutoring Business, all of which are available to buy on Amazon. How important have these publications been in establishing you as an authority within the industry?
The books have been incredibly helpful as they've enabled clients and tutors to find me and learn more about my business. Furthermore, the success of Become a Private Tutor has allowed me to connect with both established and aspiring tutors from across the world. Being an author is great way to make your tutoring business stand out from the crowd and build relationships with prospective clients.
Congratulations on your recent nomination for a Woman 2.0 Award! Can you tell us a bit more about how you became shortlisted?
Thank you! I was amazed because the caliber of nominees was so high. Several of the nominees were people I look up to like Arianna Huffington. I received an email from them one day stating that I had been nominated and shortlisted which was a complete surprise.
In an interview you did with the Guardian in 2013, you speak about the importance of online tutoring in your success, particular Google Hangouts. What was it about online tutoring that helped grow your business?
Online tutoring has enabled me to work with students who I would otherwise have been unable to teach. For example, students who live outside if the UK. As a result of tools like Google Hangouts, I've been able to teach students in places like Sudan, Dubai and Nigeria. In addition, it’s allowed me to have a more flexible work schedule.
What advice would you give someone considering a career in private tutoring?
I would advise aspiring tutors to hone their teaching skills and incorporate your passions and interests into your lessons so that you "wow" your students and fully engage them. I'd also advise tutors to be students first which means being open to learning new things and striving to improve on a constant basis.
Next month, on the 1st April, the UK’s first 11 Plus Conference is being held in London. I understand that The Tutoress is a sponsor of the event? What are you looking forward to about the conference? What impact do you hope it will have on the industry?
I think the event is going to be amazing and I'm looking forward to meeting other tutors, parents and educators. The tutoring industry can be quite insular as tutors tend to work independently. I'm hoping that this event will enable tutors to connect, network and collaborate.
What do you think the future holds for the private tutoring industry?
I think that we'll see a rise in edtech companies and a greater number of products and services emerging that make learning more accessible to students. I also think that schools and tutoring businesses will begin to collaborate more. I think there are some exciting things ahead in the industry.
To read more about Victoria's thoughts on the private tuition industry, check out her Tutoress blog, where she shares more of her advice to tutors, students and parents.