By: Mason New
Like many of you, I love tutoring because I love helping kids succeed. For almost twenty years of my teaching and tutoring career, I have most enjoyed helping students improve their writing. At its core, written words reflect our most innate and primal ability to connect with one another. Words, once written down, preserve us.
When I left formal teaching to focus on learning and technology, I still never wanted to permanently lose a connection to students or to teaching them how to write, so I focused one of my business practices on helping students with their college essays. Therefore, in addition to my normal duties running an ed tech consulting company, I work with several students every year to help them craft these personal, important and unique stories.
COVID19, just as it has done with many businesses, has dramatically changed how I help these students. Most teenagers, their brains programmed for social activity, love active interaction among people. Therefore, when discussing a topic as personal and in some cases profoundly emotional as their story, students often want to work on their essays in person. But, in this current state of COVID19 risk and quarantines, I have had to alter how I approach these meetings and also how I structure my business practice.
One area of particular importance is how to create and insure a tutoring business. First, even if you just tutor a few students, you should set up as a business entity, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Ashley S. Brooks, managing partner at Schroeder Brooks Law Firm, PLC explained to me, an LLC “protects members from personal liability for the debts of the entity and allows income to pass through the entity as personal income of the members.” I have an LLC for my tutoring business, but Ashley cautioned for others, “make sure to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to understand whether another structure is best for your needs and talk to an accountant who can address applicable tax issues.”
Setting up the business entity then will allow you to pursue purchasing commercial insurance. In the age of COVID19, whether you are meeting in person or online, commercial insurance affords you a level of protection. As Andrew Farrar of Winters-Oliver Insurance Agency advised me when I asked what type of insurance start-up tutoring companies should get: “This depends on the type of school or tutoring program you have. An online tutoring program where tutors and students only interact online does not need as much coverage as a daycare where young children are in the school’s care every day. The best way to find the right coverages is to ask similar organizations about their coverage, talk to a few agents, and give yourself at least a few weeks to work through the process.”
As with most major change, challenges and opportunities arise simultaneously. COVID19 has shut down many schools and in-person tutoring centers, opening new avenues to help kids online. People who did not previously have time or inclination to tutor are now doing so. It’s a great time to help solve some educational problems for kids, and make sure you have all the legal, tax, and insurance policies together in order to keep everyone safe and your new business thriving.