The legal requirements when it comes to opening a language school in the UK is the same as opening a new business.
- Establishing your qualification.
- Come up with a business plan.
- Get your start-up capital.
- Set up your business accounts.
- Get all the necessary permits and licenses.
- Budget your expenses.
- Hiring and training your staff.
- Create an online presence.
- Marketing campaign and advertising.
Establishing your qualification
In the United Kingdom, you will have to prove that you are capable to teach your chosen subjects. Teachers are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree and it helps to have certificates on teaching English as a second language under their cap.
In the UK, it is recommended that people who will be working with minors (under the age of 18) should have a Disclosure and Barring certificate (DBS). The certificate is proof that the holder has no restrictions when it comes to working with young people and vulnerable adults. Although not required, some parents would often request for a DBS certification before they trust their kids to a tutor or teacher. This is something that you should take in consideration as part of your teachers’ requirements especially if you plan to cater to teaching English classes to minors.
The British Council is considered to be the authority when it comes to the English language in most countries. If your school gets accredited by the British Council, this will say a lot about the quality of education your students will be getting from you.
Come up with a business plan
All business starts with a business plan. If you are starting a new business venture, you have to do a proper research or case study to determine the odds of your language school. Your business plan will not only help you get a clear objective to your plans but it will also be very useful when you are seeking out business partners and investors or when you need to get a loan in the bank.
A business plan usually covers the following:
- Cover page and table of contents
- Executive summary (Explain your motivation for starting a language school in the UK, mission and vision statements).
- Business description (Give a quick overview of your business. Include the names and contact info of other partners or owners and also your key employees).
- Products and services (Detailed descriptions of what you have to offer as a language school and why is there a need for these services or products. Add the fees you will be asking from your students here).
- Target audience (Who are your customers? Why do they need you? Why will they choose you over your competitors?)
- Market analysis (Who are your competitors? What advantages do you have over them? Do you already have a following or existing customers?)
- Economic analysis (Relevant economic data from the local and national level that will support your case).
- Business location (Describe the location and its advantages. If you are setting up an online language school, explain why having a physical location is not significant in your business).
- Marketing plan (Explain your marketing strategies to get the word out about your language school and attract more clients.)
- Operational procedure (Describe how your language school will operate, how you will manage it, and what is needed for it to operate. Include your management team and their credentials).
- Personnel (How many people will work for you and what are their roles? Will you hire more people? What is your application process?).
- Financial performance (Include personal financial statement, income statement, balance sheets, debt to worth ratio, cash flow projections, and gross profit margin).
Get your start-up capital
An online language school may not need much funding but if you plan to set up a language school in a traditional setting, you will need to come up with a start-up capital. Experts suggest that you raise at least 50% of the funds before you announce your plans to launch a language school. Here are some suggestions where you can get your start-up capital:
- Fundraising campaign – You have to develop a convincing campaign and case statement to convince donors to donate to your cause of establishing a language school in the UK. Your donors may need proof of your vision and priorities upon accomplishment. Always make sure to take note of those who have donated to your cause and send them a thank you note and regular updates on how your school is doing.
- Local bank – Approach the bank that holds your personal account because you already have a relationship with them. Set up an appointment with a loan officer and show up to your meeting with your business plan. Your qualifications for a business loan will depend on your situation. Approach other banks and financial institutions in case your bank is unable to give you a loan.
- Venture capitalists – If you do not mind giving away a portion of your business, you can consider getting your funds from venture capitalists. These firms are willing to invest in the early stages of businesses in exchange for an equity share only if they see that your language school has potential.
- Get a business partner – Sometimes, two heads are better than one. Look for a business partner that you can entirely trust and has the same goals as you do. Between you and your partner, your bank accounts might have enough money saved to start your school. If not, your business partner may have more connections to help you secure the funding. Having a business partner will also mean less liability for you.
Set up your business accounts
You need to register your language school for taxes before you can start opening it for business. Make sure you keep track of your expenditure and income. It helps to purchase a receipt book and provide receipts to your clients for every payment made. You can also purchase an accounting software to help you in this department. You should also save all the receipts of business-related purchases and make sure you organize them because you will be needing them when you file for your taxes. Recording your expenses and sources of income accurately and in detail will simplify your job when it is tax filing time.
Business bank account
Your school must have its own business bank account. You should separate your personal assets from your school’s assets – this is important to protect your personal assets in case something goes wrong with your school. This will also make tax filing and accounting a lot easier. You should also consider getting a credit card for your business. This will build your school’s credit history, which will be useful later on when you need to take out a loan for further expansion or investments.
Get all the necessary permits, licenses, and contracts
Check your local government for what permits and licenses are needed to operate your school. Failure to acquire or comply to these requirements can result into great fines or worse, may cause your language school to shut down.
Building permits are usually required for businesses operating on a physical location like a language school in a traditional setup. These permits certifies that the space you operate on complies with all the zoning laws, building codes, and government regulations. If you are renting the space, this type of permit will be your landlord’s responsibility. Take note though that if the space has to go through some renovations for your business, a new permit must be issued.
Business insurance and compensation insurance may be a legal requirement so check your local government about this. Even if it is not, getting business insurance is still highly recommended.
Make sure to take the time to draw up contracts for your teaching and administrative staff. You will have to consider the legal requirements when it comes to work contracts in the UK. If you are not sure, it is best to consult a lawyer to stay on the safe side.
Budget your expenses
What are the costs involved in running a language school in the UK?
- Rent – Most schools are located in the center and in large metro areas because they are most accessible. The closer you are to the city center, the higher the rates will be. The amount you pay will depend on your chosen location.
- Labor – For language schools, teachers are usually paid by the number of hours they spend teaching each week. Office staff will be paid slightly lower than the teachers but are expected to earn above the minimum wage. For schools operating in a traditional setting, you will be required to give benefits to your teaching and administrative staff.
- Supplies – Office supplies and teaching materials will also be part of your budget. You may need a copier, filing cabinets, desks, blackboards, etc.
Hiring and training your staff
The number of people in your staff will depend on the size of your school. It is recommended to start a school with at least four teachers that can handle different levels of ESL.
Administrator and business manager
It is advised that you hire your most important staff 18 months before you open your school to students. For a language school, this should be the principal/school administrator and your business manager. You can hold either position if you want to be hands on. The administrator will help in handling the educational aspects of the school plan and staffing. The business manager will help in enrollment and purchasing. Together, you can all work on the legal, academic, and financial obligations of starting a school.
You can start hiring more administrative staff 9 months before the start of the school. These will be the people who will work in the business office. Once your business office is set up, your school can start accepting admissions for students.
Start interviewing and hiring teachers 8 months before the school starts. Once you have hired some teachers, ask them what kind of supplies they will be needing. You should also work with them when it comes to their curriculum and lesson plans. You should also allocate 4 months to train your teachers. Although they are all qualified to teach, they have to be familiar with your school’s policies, procedures, expectations, and your vision for the school.
Cleaning and Security Staff
You can hire your cleaners and security staff at least 3 months before you open your school.
Create an online presence
The Internet has changed the way things operate significantly. Everybody is doing something online. Majority of the population have their social media accounts. As a business, you should be able to take advantage of the Internet as a venue. If they can not find your language school online, they will doubt your credibility. Businesses no matter what nature are now establishing their own online presence so people can find them easily.
Creating a website
The first thing you should do is to create an official website for your language school. Your website must look professional to make it look authentic and reliable. You can choose to set up your own website and you can also hire a web designer to do it for you. If you are not that tech-savvy and if you really want to impress your clients, it is better to have a professional work on the website for you. This will also take a huge chunk of responsibility off your shoulders while you are processing all the necessary paperwork for opening your language school. Of course, it is not enough that you have a professional website but you should also ensure that it has everything a prospective student would need if he or she is considering taking a course with you such as the curriculum, types of English courses you have, the fees they have to pay, and of course, your contact information.
Creating social media accounts
Set up a business page or an account on the top social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. These are avenues where people can leave you reviews and comments. It is also a great way to communicate with your students and potential students as well. Make sure to post regularly so that they will recognize how active you are. Pay attention to all your notifications and make sure to answer all questions within 24 hours.
Marketing campaign and advertising
Marketing your school is a great way to boost interest and make your language school known in the community. Your marketing campaign will guide your advertising efforts to boost your enrollment numbers.
Word of mouth recommendations still seem to be the most reliable method when it comes to schools. If you have started as an English tutor or teacher, you will probably have your fair share of students and have established yourself in the community before you started thinking of setting up your own language school. This can be used as a “base” for your recommendations. Ask your clients to post testimonies and reviews on your websites or social media accounts.
Reach out to schools
Your language school will not be a direct competition to academic schools because you have different goals so you can always reach out to them confidently. Ask if you can put up a flier or poster for your language school. You can also ask them to be a partner school and make a deal with them to give discounts to their students take English classes from you. They can easily contact parents of students who are struggling with the English language and recommend to take ESL lessons from your school. Bank on the fact that some universities require foreign students to take an English proficiency exam in order to be considered for admission.
Reach out to companies
This works the same way as reaching out to schools, only workers would need the English lessons to have more career growth. English is the universal business language and in some companies in foreign countries, employees who are fluent in English gets a higher rate and more opportunities to climb up the corporate ladder. Even the most successful businessmen are making time to take up ESL classes to be able to improve their communication skills when doing business deals with multinational companies.
If your school is in an English-speaking country with a high rate of immigrants, look for the places where the foreigners usually frequent. It could be an Asian grocery store or a Chinese restaurant. Place your advertisements in these locations so you can be assured that your target audience have seen your ad.
Of course not all advertising and marketing methods will work fine so you have to know which ones are doing their job. Whenever a student enrolls in your school, ask them how they heard about you. This way, you will have an idea as to which ads brought in your clients.