Computers are nearly ubiquitous in our modern world. Nearly every home has at least one computer; many homes have several computers. However, just because most people own or use a computer does not mean that most people are skilled computer users.
Computer or software tutoring involves teaching people how to better use their computer or a particular software application. Tutoring services may range from basic computer instruction, an introduction to safe and effective Internet usage, or instruction on how to maximize a particular application (for example, an office suite or photo application).
Computer tutoring customers may be young or old, complete newbies learning how to use a computer for the first time or experienced users looking to increase their computer skills. The needs of each customer may vary.
Starting a computer or software tutoring business requires no special tools, equipment, or preparation. The computer tutoring business can truly be started on a shoestring budget because it can be run as a home-based business with no real investment. Customers can visit your home office for lessons using your computer, or you can visit the customer’s home and use their computer.
A computer or software tutor should be an advanced user in whatever it is they plan to teach. For example, a tutor who plans to teach others to use Microsoft Windows should be an advanced Windows user and familiar with the version that the customer will be using. It will be difficult to teach someone how to use Windows 7 if you are still using Windows Vista on your computer.
When it comes to computers, most people think of people in only two categories: computer people and non-computer people. This is an advantage when starting a computer tutoring business. Potential customers who know you are a “computer person” are unlikely to ask if you have a degree in computer science, have a certain amount of IT experience, or are A+ or vendor certified. If you are a computer person then you know more than they do, and that is about the extent of their concern. Of course, if you don’t know more than they do it will become painfully obvious rather quickly.
Word-of-mouth referrals are the holy grail of effective marketing. Once you get started as a computer tutor it is likely that your satisfied customers will refer their friends, family, and co-workers to you as well. This can be further encouraged by providing business cards to all customers, and by offering discounts for customers who make successful referrals for you.
Referrals from a local computer shop would also be extremely effective. Some computer shops may offer their own tutoring services and would not want to advertise your competitive services. However, a local shop that does not offer tutoring or classes may refer their customers to you for tutoring knowing that you will refer your tutoring customers to their shop for repairs, upgrades, and replacements.
A business website is always a good idea. For a tech business like computer tutoring it is essential. You are asking people to pay you for teaching them about computers. It is likely that they will assume you have a website. Your website is also a great way to find new customers if the site is optimized for local search.
Social media marketing is also a great way to attract new business and retain existing customers. Link to your Twitter account, Facebook page, and e-mail newsletter subscription page from your website. Offering free tips, industry news, and occasional special offers to your subscribers is a great incentive for them to subscribe to your Twitter feed, Facebook page, or e-mail list. As long as you are providing real value to subscribers they will be glad to receive your updates and occasional promotional offer. This also allows you to present yourself as an authority on the systems and software on which you offer tutoring.
Placing a sign or lettering on your vehicle is another great way to promote your business. This is particularly true if you are tutoring at customer’s homes. Your mobile billboard will be parked in the customer’s driveway every time you are there. Neighbors will see your business and will assume that you are reputable since their neighbor is doing business with you.
Tutoring is not for everyone. Just because a person is a power computer user does not mean that they will be a good computer tutor.
Tutoring can be challenging – particularly if you are dealing with a customer who just does not get what you are trying to teach them or frequently forgets what you have taught them already. Tutoring requires a good combination of technical knowledge, creative communication skills, and patience.
One of the challenges with computer tutoring is the need to stay on top of several operating systems, many applications, and an ever-changing industry. Operating systems are upgraded every few years. Many software applications are upgraded every few months. These constant changes can keep a computer tutor on their toes trying to keep up with current technology.
Another challenge is the variety of operating systems on the consumer market today. Home computer users may be using some version of Windows, Mac or Linux operating system. A few computer tutors may be comfortable working with all three operating systems, but most will focus on one or two of these systems for tutoring.
The computer tutoring business can be the perfect home-based business for someone with strong computer, communication and people skills. Tutoring requires all of these skills. This business can be an ideal home-based business, with little or no start-up costs.
Ron Dicker. Home Based Business Idea – Computer Tutor: What It Takes to Start a Computer Tutor Home Business. About.com. Site accessed on 2 November 2010.
Joyce Gowens. Starting a Tutoring Business. PowerHomeBiz. Site accessed on 2 November 2010.
April Bowles. How to Start a Tutoring Business: Earn Extra Money with a Small Business. Suite101. Site accessed on 2 November 2010.