Tuition Business Lesson #4: Teaching Skills Are Not Business Building Skills

One of the main reasons I joined the partnership was the strong credentials of the team – educators, not entrepreneurs. Although they were each earning $7k-$9k per month, these were wages, not business income. I was in fact attracted to a team of excellent educators and teachers, not business builders. This proved to be a big mistake.

Brilliant Teachers

It could be said that the success behind the original centre was due to the brilliance of the core tutors Steve, Bruce, and Chad. This key advantage propelled the business to an early success, yet also destined the business to be unscalable, unless the core tutors could find a way to duplicate their teaching success.

I would slowly understand the great difference between how a teacher sees the business and how a business builder sees the business.

Business Builder Sets Revenue Goals

A business builder will set a goal of how much revenue to generate from the business, and plan accordingly. He will then think about what resources he needs to realise this revenue goal. If he doesn’t have these resources (e.g. capital, brand, classrooms, hardware, software, teachers, students, curriculum, etc), he will find ways to get them.

Teacher Sets Teaching Goals

One the other hand, teachers might just think about how to deliver a better lesson, to create better classroom experience, and to help students get better results. Having done these, teachers will typically trust that their good work will bring in more students. That is our business growth plan, in essence. 

Unfortunately, the majority of the team belonged to the second kind. It was very clear to me that the dominant belief in the team was to develop our passion into a business, by doing a good job in teaching and teaching only. To most of us, branding was about having nice brochures and a professional looking logo, and all that we did for marketing was to put up posters and to organize revision workshops during holidays.

Mind On Operations

As a rather tell-tale sign, most of our meetings, rare as it was already, were devoted to operations related matters, like how many students enrolled, who could teach these students, what were the schedules possible, what to pay attention to about each student. Very little, if at all, attention was given to business building aspects such as partnership, talent acquisition plan, marketing, branding, creating assets, funding.

If running a business is like rafting, then we were deeply engaged in rowing perfectly, and forgot to look up to see where we were going, whether we were heading to a fall, and whether we were rowing against the current.

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