If you're considering setting up a tutoring business, either full-time, or part-time, then this post will provide you with all the information you'll need to take the first steps. Find out how to choose a name, what legal structure to use, how to get a DBS check and how to organise insurance.
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and offer your services as a private tutor. The next step is to set up your tutoring business to make it official. In the UK, there’s no tutoring accreditation, so you’ll likely already have all the qualifications that you’ll need to start tutoring students.
Although there’s no official tutoring qualification, you will need to prove that you’re able to teach your chosen subjects. In the UK, most tutors are qualified to at least degree level, or are undergraduate students. Assuming that you’re qualified in the subject that you plan to tutor, then here’s how to set up a tutoring business.
Choosing a Name for Your Tutoring Business
The first thing most new tutors do when setting up their business is decide on a name. Some tutors decide to use their own name, for example, Laura Smith Tutoring, whereas others decide to brand themselves with a company name, like NMS Tuition.
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Using your own name is personal, it shows that you’re confident in putting your name to your services and it makes it easy for parents and students to find you by name in Google.
Using a branded company name on the other hand, can appear more professional and give the impression that you’re a business, rather than a ‘freelancer’. A branded name can also help when it comes to marketing your services as tutors generally find it easier to ‘put themselves out there’ as a brand, rather than a person.
Whatever name you choose, try to consider how prospective parents and students will view your services, based on your name alone.
Registering with HMRC as a Tutor
Most tutors set up a tutoring business as a sole trader. As a sole trader, you’re the only one that you’re responsible for. It’s essentially you that runs the business and you don’t have any employees. To register as a sole trader, you need to contact HMRC within 3 months of teaching your first lesson (although ideally before). You can register with HMRC online, or by phone. As a sole trader, you’re also responsible for completing your own tax returns and paying your own tax, although you can pay an accountant to help you.
Your second option for legally setting up a tutoring business is to form a limited company. A limited company means that your business has been incorporated at Companies House. It essentially means that your tutoring business is separate from you, as the owner. It also gives you limited liability, meaning that you aren’t wholly responsible for your company’s debts.
There are benefits and advantages to both legal structures, which you can find out more about in this video from Crunch Accounting:
Branding Your Tutoring Business
If you’re serious about earning an income from tutoring, then you need to think about your business brand. Although many tutors don’t have one, it’s a good long-term strategy to have your own website that outlines your services. We won’t go into detail about your options for creating a website, but we will mention the need for having a well thought out brand.
Your tutoring business brand should be a reflection of your personality and your approach to tutoring. Some things to consider when deciding on a brand for your business include:
- What’s your tutoring style? Are you laid back, assertive, quirky?
- How do you approach lessons? Are you organised, student-focused, or tutor-focused?
- What type of students are you targeting? Those that are struggling, high-achievers, those that want to improve?
Once you’ve considered these questions, you can decide how your tutoring approach might be translated into a brand:
- What colours reflect your business?
- What themes or metaphors would show your personality?
- How about imagery? What visuals will help you attract your ideal students?
DBS Checks for Tutors
Although there aren’t any legal obligations for tutors to have DBS checks, it’s advised that you get one, particularly if you plan to tutor students under the age of eighteen. We’ve already written about how you can get DBS checked as a tutor, so we won’t go into a great amount of detail here, but essentially, you have three options:
- Apply for one through an umbrella body like a recruitment company (who will probably expect you to register for agency work)
- Register with a private tutoring agency who will apply for one on your behalf
- Become a member of The Tutor’s Association, who arrange for members to have a DBS check through Capita Recruitment Vetting Service for a small fee (in addition to TTA’s membership fee) Details here.
We also provide more information about DBS checks in our free tutoring email course.
Insurance for Tutors
Like DBS checks, there’s no legal obligation for tutors to have insurance, but if you’re serious about offering your services, it’s worth thinking about, especially if you plan to tutor from home. There are two types of insurance that tutors normally have, which are:
Public liability insurance - protects you against legal liability following an injury to a student (through a trip or fall, for example) or damage to third party property (spilt coffee on a laptop, for example).
Private indemnity insurance – covers you against any claims that you made a mistake in your work, or failed to provide an adequate service.
We’ve written about your insurance options in more detail in our post Insurance for Tutors: What You Need to Know.
For further reading on the how to set up a tutoring business, take a look at our posts How to Start a Tutoring Business, and How to Become a Tutor. Both these articles provide additional information on how to set up a tutoring business.
For an in-depth guide to working as a tutor in the UK, our eBook, How to Start Your Own Tutoring Business is available to buy exclusively from The Tutor Website.