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    6 Replies Latest reply on Oct 15, 2008 5:30 PM by millzone

    Start-up service advice

    millzone Newbie
      Hi, I'm new to this forum, but in my research for starting up a small business, I found this to be a good source of advice. My prior experience as a special education teacher for 20 years has motivated me to start-up a in-home tutoring service. As I was developing my plan this summer, I discovered neurofeedback, brain-training. I immediately saw the benefits that neurofeedback can have in education and began to access training so I could include neurofeedback services in addition to tutoring. Since I have very limited experience in running a business, I signed up with a reputable tutoring service that sub-contracts clients to me. They anticipate more clients by the end of the month, but at this point have given me only one. Originally, I planned to establish the clients for tutoring services and after gaining their trust, offering neurofeedback services. I even figured that if I trained my first few clients for free, the referrals would follow. At this point, I need some advice on my next move.

      I have a name for my business, Think Links, but have not gone through the legal process to make it legit. I also have acquired some start-up costs in neurofeedback equipment and training. I realize that it would benefit me greatly to pay someone to assist me in getting my business set-up properly, but funds are limited. So at the minimum cost to me, what should I do to get the ball rolling?

      Also, I know that marketing will be key and I think that I can drum up enough business right in my neighborhood if I can get out the word. Would fliers be cost effective? How would I find a networking group in my area? I thought about signs, but the city (Fairfax, VA) has regulations restricting sign advertising.

      In addition, since experience is in the teaching field and I have little experience in neurofeedback, should I initially target my market for tutoring services or should I include neurofeedback as well?

      Thanks for any suggestions!

      Millzone
        • Re: Start-up service advice
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Start-up service advice, Welcome Millie from Fairfax Va,

          I would be happy to give you advice and would like to also talk to you (need you phone number).
          Do you know about SCORE. SCORE is FREE and can help you both in person and on line.

          You should register your business name "Think Links" with the IRS and get a Federal I D Number.
          You can do that on line by going to "IRS.gov"

          Marketing is the key and a good Marketing Plan would help. Both SCORE and i can help.

          Good luck, LUCKIEST

          Fairfax,
          Virginia
          • Re: Start-up service advice
            A_Ellicott Adventurer
            The cheapest way to start a business is as a sole-propietership. This is also known as "d/b/a" (doing business as). There is no corporation or partnership, it's just you. You probably have to register the name Think Links at your local or state government somewhere. You should also obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. WIth your EIN you could open a bank account under the name Think Links. There may be a number of business, legal, and tax reasons to choose other legal entities for your business, but you asked for the one with the minimum cost. Also, there is nothing to prevent you from adopting a different legal form down the line. In other words, later when you see that business is going good and you have the funds you could incorporate or form a limited partnership or whatever.

            As far as marketing tutoring vs. biofeedback I would initially choose one or the other. When you start a business you need to be focused. I'm guessing mid-semester report cards will be coming out soon. Now would seem to be a great time to push tutoring. I suggest that you build a steady base of tutoring clients first, then branch out into biofeedback.

            Marketing:
            First, you need to portray yourself as the expert in learning that you are. Experts don't hang fliers on telephone poles. Write an article,"Ten Ways to Help Your Child Study" or something like that, and submit it to the local papers. Reporters are always looking for expert sources on education topics. Let them know you are available for quotes on education/school/learning topics. Offer to review the latest "learning toys" for the upcoming holiday season. These are just some suggestions. Notice that none of this is a hard sell. The idea is to present yourselve as an accomplished educator.

            The second step is networking. Once you've got your article, call the local PTAs and offer to speak to them on that subject. Contact church groups, civic clubs, any group with large numbers of parents and offer to speak. Groups like that are always looking for speakers. You might start a blog where you offer tips on motivating children to learn do their homework etc. You might consider volunteering your services. Perhaps the local library would schedule a "Homework Night". Kids could come in a you could help them. Perhaps some parents would be so impressed that they would hire you. The idea is to put yourself in contact with as many parents as you can but to do it in a way to present you as a learning expert.

            Lastly, think outside the box. The SAT is just the best known of the numerous tests people study and prepare for. You might offer seminars/coaching on test taking and preparation. This might be a good way to work the biofeedback in as well.

            Good luck!
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: Start-up service advice
              DomainDiva Ranger
              "In addition, since experience is in the teaching field and I have little experience in neurofeedback, should I initially target my market for tutoring services or should I include neurofeedback as well? "

              First of all could you explain neurofeedback and how this 'feedback ' is obtained? Are there electrode patches attached to the students head, what are the procedures, is the feedback through comprehensive testing such as essay questions, etc?

              Do you see where I am going with this? Until you become 'certified' and I hope there is a certification for something like this, mentioning this to any parent is going to put you on the tutors that parents will not use hit list. I am having trouble with:

              "Originally, I planned to establish the clients for tutoring services and after gaining their trust, offering neurofeedback services."

              As a special education teacher you already know that parents get crazy about their children with little or no provocation.

              This may be something you will want to run by the tutoring service. After all you are working for them and their reputation is at stake here.
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: Start-up service advice
                millzone Newbie
                Even though I have received helpful answers to my questions, I noted that there was another response I'd like to read, but could not because I marked my question as answered. Since people have a variety of viewpoints, especially when it comes to marketing strategies, I would like to read all the responses/advice that was given to me. Thanks!