Thursday, September 27, 2012

Growing a business... It's not just tough, it's downright scary...

Ok, I am now without a job...

I can say, it's really really scary....
I'm scared...

Low income isn't scary.
No income isn't scary either.

It's scary when there's no income yet there are overheads to take care of...
It's scary when big ticket expenditure items are looming...
It's scary when I realise there is just so much to learn, to think, to ponder, to decide, and to do...

After "waking up" from my break, and deciding to work hard on the tuition business to prep for 2013, I realised there are just so many challenges waiting, so much that it could be stifling if not handled properly.

I have been reading lots of books, and I truly appreciate the amount of efforts that businessmen put in to make it work.

For example, how to write an advertisement.... A headline, a problem definition, testimonials, and calls to action...

Or how to design a whole advertising campaign...
How to engage the social media...
How to systemize processes...
How to teach better
How to select tutors
These are merely a small portion of what needs to be done.  :(

A business typically starts with a why, then the how. The why is simple, students really need the help. Then comes the how. This is a headache at the moment... I am detailing my thoughts below to better help me categorize my problems, and will personally be re-reading the following frequently to help guide my actions. Comments and help are extremely welcomed.

Now, it's common knowledge that if a business does the same as almost everyone else, it's a good recipe for failure. There has to be a unique competitive advantage, that little difference that people call it the X-factor. The question is what? I could be an extremely good tutor, I could have the X-factor, but this is something personal. True, I could help my students understand maths and physics concepts much better than many others, but how about the other subjects that I can't teach? So I need to find tutors for other subjects, but doesn't this put me in the almost the same light as the other 99% of tuition centres out there that started with a super tutor?

Problem: What could differ me from many others?
Action to take: I have to think harder, build on my resources, read more widely, and seek for opinions.

Next, one of the most important thing to do for any business is the marketing and advertising campaign and strategy. This was virtually non-existent for 2012, and rather minimal in my opinion in 2011. I don't have any prior experience to this, and badly need to learn and absorb as much information as I can within a short period of time. By word of mouth mostly, I could bring in students for myself. How about for the other tutors?

Problem: How to make myself much more visible?
Action to take: Check out the different low cost advertising solutions, engage the social media (how??!), the cost of flyers, etc

Also, this business has minimal branding to begin with. The feel isn't professional enough, it's not well known enough, etc. Some things need to be done, and need to be associated with such a centre. But the costs???

Problem: How to brand the business without increasing the costs?
Action to take: Honestly no idea yet... Probably making certain stationeries with the logo and brand name. A redesign of the website is also needed. Probably also create publications to further boost the reputation.

Systemizing processes is a must for operational efficiency, as well as setting the path for future expansions. Key thing is what and how to systemize. One of it is the advertising, marketing, and another may be the recruitment processes. Probably the teaching or some extra services that will give us the X-factor too?

Problem: What and how to systemize certain processes?
Action to take: Take baby steps, and starting with the advertising and recruitment processes, and work out from there.

Financial systems. A business most important aspect is how it manages its cashflow and finances. This was rather systemized and served well at the moment. The question is whether it could be made more efficient with computerization of the current manual data entry...

Any potential partnership or collaboration for greater synergy for faster growth?

A goal and timeline needs to be set to get the above things done. And it needs to be done fast.


  1. Hi JW,

    Just to share my experience as a site owner. Focus on your strength and delegate to the professionals. When I first started, I was trying to do everything myself – it was very exhausting. Designing a website was very difficult and when I finally had the money to delegate it to a web designer, I didn't need a second thought.

    I will be happy to help you in your advertising by putting up a banner ad in my site.

    All the best!

    1. Hi Derek,

      thanks for your offer! I'm not so sure if I should advertise education on a finance website. Don't think the audience interests are similar :)

  2. Hi JW, it is very interesting to read your thoughts here on the setting up of a tuition business. Are you the sole business owner or have business partners? If you have business partners, then you can simply divide out the issues and responsibilities then come together with the proposals. It always help with more brains and different perspectives. Otherwise it seems better to hire the personnels with the right skills to help you through with some of things such as marketing and systemizing for them to be done fast and professionally.

    1. Hi Shine in Rain,

      I have a partner who deals only with the admin stuff, and some responsibilities are shared. However, I'm much more ambitious and aggressive.

  3. Its true that running a business takes a lot of effort. As a responsible business owner you also have the responsibility of all your employees to be concerned with many of whom depend on the success of your business. I believe one of the characteristics thats often overlooked when it comes to the decision as to whether owning a business is the right decision for you is whether you posses the psychological attributes that are necessary for business success. One must be able to deal with uncertainty of running a business on a day to day basis. Their will most likely be lots of surprises each and everyday. For some this is to much to handle and they should most likely work for someone else.


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