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Feedback on a few business ideas wanted please!

(14 Posts)
mathsgeek Tue 02-Jul-13 14:17:59

I have been SE for about 6 years now, working as a maths tutor. I love the work, but realistically most of the work is after school/weekends and I would like to try and up my income with work during the school day (when my children are at school). Any ideas would always be a complement to the tuition.

Idea 1- to run some sort of 'maths' based fun group for preschoolers with parents attending. Lots of 'doing' activities like any group- e.g. investigating with scales, painting, counting sweets out to decorate biscuits, board games, songs related to numbers and shapes. The idea behind the group would also be to support and inspire parents with them supporting their own children- many parents I speak to are very nervous when it comes to their own maths learning.

Idea 2- As a slight deviation from idea no.1, to run courses/drop in sessions for parents to support their children in maths. I could cover topics such as the different methods now used in calculations, ideas for them to support with homework, help with their own confidence etc.

Idea 3- some sort of online shop which sells maths resources for homework.home education etc. The kind of things I use in my tutoring but on a small scale for parents to buy enough of for their child/children rather than having to buy class packs. Possibly offering packs suitable for different ages, e.g. a number square, number lines, multilink, small set of money, to also being able to buy standalone items- e.g. fraction items.

I have some experience with idea 1 and 2, but 3 would be a completely new area. I have no idea about using a ecommerce website or about wholesalers, or what extra costs might be occurred, like having the ablity to take credit cards for example! To some extent the ideas could overlap, and for example I could link my tutoring website with the shop one.

So, what are your thoughts, given the current climate? I know some people who run preschooler groups ATM and they have noticed a general decrease in numbers as more parents find work and children go to nursery. I don't have a huge amount of money to invest (but have time and energy), and what worries me more about idea 3 is that I think it would take a lot more capital. It's probably the idea I'm most interested in as it's so different to what I have done so far. I need the warts and all feedback, as I am quite risk adverse.

WilsonFrickett Tue 02-Jul-13 19:35:41

Personally I love the idea of 2 as I really do struggle to understand the thinking behind how maths are taught in schools. I'm not necessarily sure I'd go to a class though - could you do some online content, which would then lead in to 3?

So create free content which parents could access on the web, you then make money through content advertisers, and you sell your own resources to parents too, so there's a double income stream from online.

Pros: two income streams
Fairly simple business model to run once you've got it up and running

Cons: having to create the content in the first place
Issues you've already identified round stock-holding, e commerce etc.

To drive traffic to your website you'd have to work out a clear marketing proposition which would mean you establishing yourself as a 'maths expert'. This will take a great deal of time and effort - blogs, writing for free for publications, pitching yourself to local radio etc - but once this has been established it could lead to all sorts of possibilities for you - educational writing, tv expert, etc etc.

WilsonFrickett Tue 02-Jul-13 19:39:04

Sorry, more to say - I love posts like this grin

You've already identified the issues with 1. You'd have to do a clear cost analysis to see if it's worth your while. By the time you rent premises, buy equipment, insurance x the number of pre-schoolers you cd reasonably deal with per session, I'm not sure if there's any real profit in it. It also sounds like something for the yummy mummies who think Tamara is a maths genius - it won't fly in every postcode.

mathsgeek Tue 02-Jul-13 20:15:57

Thank you WF, I hadn't considered an online version, would also make my potential area bigger. The downside as you've realised is the 'writing' of my knowledge as opposed to just teaching it! I'm not sure that writing comes that easily to me.

In the past I have run a group similar to idea 1, so I know the costs take up much more of the turnover than most people realise. It's a competitive area too, as you are fighting with the free provision for 3-4 year olds, and it's less appropriate for younger children.

sanam2010 Tue 02-Jul-13 20:19:16

I really like idea 1 actually. Have you read "marshmellow math"? You just need to do it in a way to minimise investment. You don't need your own premises to start with, most toddler classes run in local church halls that are empty most of the time, or even in playrooms of mum and toddler type cafes. Then you develop a content and marketing and advertise a course and see if people sign up. As soon as you have found ten people who want to come you go ahead with one class and then you try to spread. You could pilot it with minimum investment (other than you time for developing the content).

I think among tiger parents in London it could be a huge hit :-).

MistyB Tue 02-Jul-13 20:42:54

Wilson has some great ideas. You could run free webinars along the lines of 'Maths for Mums and Dads' with the tie in being the products you sell and further one to one paying sessions. If you got this part of your business up and running and tap into the right markets you could expand your tutoring business to do distance tutoring for students overseas doing iGCSE's (Dubai is 3 hours ahead so perhaps some opportunity there to work during your children's school day) and also perhaps adult tuition during school hours, especially if you could offer GCSE coaching during the day.

WilsonFrickett Tue 02-Jul-13 21:10:44

Misty that is ace! Use the downtime tutoring where there's a time difference! The Internet rules thanks

mathsgeek Tue 02-Jul-13 21:12:53

Sanam, thanks for the link to the book, it looks good. I agree with you about minimising the costs, and having built up my tutoring business I am very strict with costs. I don't live in London, or a similar 'Tiger' area but I also know that should the idea work it's something that could be franchised. One other possible plus point is that it could feed into my tutoring business (although I'm busy enough for that!)

In the last hour I have been musing over and investigating running a blog which I think could be a go-er. There are a few education blogs on MN which are about home ed, SEN and English so it looks like there is a gap. There are some good maths ones out there but they are primarily written for other teachers, and tend to be secondary based.

One of my priorities for this coming academic year is to re-jig my website to promote the adult learning aspects. I need to investigate online tuition too.

At this rate I'm going to be too busy! grin

mathsgeek Tue 02-Jul-13 21:29:08

Misty- thanks too!

WilsonFrickett Wed 03-Jul-13 15:09:31

I'm a freelance copywriter as well as a maths-puzzled parent so feel free to PM me if you'd like some feedback on blog copy.

mathsgeek Thu 04-Jul-13 10:24:07

WF thank you, I might well take you up!

I am going to start a blog for this September and then think some more about idea number 1.

For the children's classes, I have considered perhaps approaching the local children's centre to see if I could run sessions there on a trial basis. They would be free, but means I have access to their equipment to see what works before shelling out for my own, and gives me chance to see what works and how parents like the idea.

I have had a look over the advice on MN for starting a blog but wondered if there were some more advice or books that would be worth reading before I start? I have a website with wordpress for my tutoring business but I don't use that in the same way as a blog. I want to keep it separate anyway.

I have started to shelve idea number 3, but I was thinking possibly about making up little inexpensive packs which could be sold at summer fairs etc. I might even do that as a PTA fundraiser.

WilsonFrickett Thu 04-Jul-13 10:35:58

Lots of info on the web. But you need to be really clear what you're trying to achieve with it. Most blogs are based on networking with other bloggers, so you have to spend a lot of time interacting, posting etc with the blogging community. This takes a long time and to build it quickly abeolutely you need to br on another platform, like mn bloggers. Revenue in that case tends to be built on google ads type things, or pr stuff - like a beauty blogger will try out a new mascara and then review it.

You have a slightly different approach in mind - You want to attract parents - now, there are a vast amount of parents who blog, but you also want to attract general parents as well. So you have to look at your blog as free content which will make ordinary parents think 'this is great' and then buy your services. Although you can also generate income through ads too.

If you already have a website then I would 100% recommend using that website to expand on your blogging. Why spend time building 2 online presences? That seems wrong to me. One brand, one name, one presence.

DolomitesDonkey Thu 04-Jul-13 13:44:54

Yep, as wilson says, your current business and your proposed business actually play off of one another. Having already got the nice, handy CMS installed (Wordpress) - you need nothing more than to get blogging.

Have you considered giving tutorials via a paid subscription or "pay per class" using the Wordpress Sensai plugin?

When you've only your time to leverage your earning potentials are limited - or course I don't need to tell a mathematician that! wink

Elizabeth22 Thu 04-Jul-13 14:02:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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