Are you interested in starting an educational related business or are you interested in the Language Schools industry? Do you want to become your own boss? If you answered yes to these questions, then you should consider starting a language school business in a very busy area in your city. If you intend starting this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.

You will also need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to get all the information you need before you can legally open a language school business in your city. You can start your language school business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes nationally recognized especially if you go into franchising.

20 Steps to Starting a Language school business 

1. Understand the Industry

Generally, players in the Language Schools industry offer language instruction ranging from conversational skills for personal enrichment to intensive training courses for career or educational opportunities. Schools teach foreign languages, sign language and English as a second language. Please note that the Language Schools industry does not include language instruction software.

Per capita disposable income and international travel by US residents are expected to grow, hence the remarkable growth of the Language Schools industry. Going forward, the industry will build on its success in the online, corporate and international markets to fuel growth. Also, steady immigration levels will aid long-term demand for English-language courses in the domestic market.

Demand for language training will also grow as the US population becomes more diverse and businesses attempt to target new demographic markets. Nevertheless, competition from language instruction software continues to pose a threat to the industry.

Statistics has it that the Language Schools industry in the United States of America is worth $2 billion, with an estimated growth rate of 1.3 percent within 2012 and 2017. There are about 13,324 registered and licensed (accredited) Language Schools scattered all around the United States of America and they are responsible for employing about 36,078 people. Alexander Language Schools, Berlitz, Language Leaders Franchising and Rosetta Stone Inc. are the market leaders in this industry.

A report released by IBISWorld shows that as with most industries in the education sector, wages, which include salaries and benefits, account for the largest cost to industry operators. This industry requires instructors, researchers and program developers, as well as employees who perform administrative and management duties. The report also showed that in 2017, wages accounted for 35.3 percent of revenue.

Language schools usually deliver training on a face-to-face basis in small groups, which is highly labor-intensive. On the other hand, establishments can expand facilities and purchase equipment according to need, thereby reducing the level of capital needed to successfully operate in this industry. Small local operators may even hold language classes in community centers, schools or residential homes.

Even though there are loads of players in the Language Schools industry, the industry is still pretty much open for entrepreneurs to still come in and compete. If you conduct your research and feasibility studies very well before starting your language school coupled with the impressive profile of your faculty members, you are likely going to struggle less to make a headway in the industry.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who patronize language schools cut across all genders; male and female, children and adult alike who want to learn new language for the purpose of acquiring conversational skills for personal enrichment or for career or educational opportunities or just for fun, hence the demographic composition for language school business is all encompassing. In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but all those who reside within your target market location.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

Aside from the fact that a language school may decide to major either online or offline, there is no known niche area when it comes to the language school business but on the average, these are the basic services that language schools offer;

  • Foreign languages (French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin and Arabic et al)
  • English as a second language
  • Career language training
  • Sign language
The Level of Competition in the Industry

The competition that exists in the language school business goes beyond competition with language schools within the city or state where your language school is located; you will be expected to compete with language schools outside your state and even outside the United States of America due to online offerings. So, it will be right to say the competition in the language school business is relatively tough.

The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure your language instructors and coaches are well-trained to teach new languages without much stress, your services are affordable, your customer care services is top notch.

But over and above, there are several language schools scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own language school in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competition. Besides, there are larger language schools that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for customers.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

Here are some of the most popular language schools in the United States of America;

  • Atlanta Intl Language Institute
  • Language On Aventura School
  • Ardmore Language Schools
  • Language Exchange International
  • Golden Gate Language Schools
  • The Language Company
  • Agape English Language Institute
  • Face to Face Learning Center
  • CSUF American Language Program
  • International Language Academy of Washington DC
  • Language On Miami Beach School
  • ALP American Language Programs
  • Nomen Global Language Centers
Economic Analysis

If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

Language school business is not a green business, as a matter of fact, you will come across several language schools when you drive through the city or when you search both online and offline directories. So, if you are mapping out your economic and cost analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of what is required to secure a training facility, hiring different language teachers, secure business license, building software apps and also the cost to successfully run the business.

Over and above, if you are considering starting a language school, then your concern should not be limited to securing a training/school facility and other things, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base (most especially migrant communities), you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement.

If you are looking towards starting a language school, you have the option of either buying a franchise or starting from the scratch, but we usually advise our readers to start from the scratch because it will afford you the opportunity to come up with unique concepts that will place you in the fore-front of the industry.

Please note that most of the successful language schools around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your own language school today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well-established language schools especially universities and polytechnics within your business location who are also offering same services you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face are economic downturn and unfavorable government policies.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

You can either choose a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for your language school business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale language school especially if you are just starting out with moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood. But if your intention is to grow the business and offer a wide range of foreign languages to clients coming from all across the United States of America, then choosing sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.

Here is some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own language school business in the United States of America;

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own language school business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Irrespective of the results you produce as it relates to training your students on different languages, professional certification is one of the main reasons some training schools stand out. If you want to make impact in the language schools industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in this competitive market.

These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own language school;

  • Intensive English Language Program (IELP) Certificate
  • Degree or Diploma in the Language You Intend Teaching

Please note that you cannot successfully run a language school in the United States without necessarily acquiring professional certifications and business license (accreditation from regulating bodies) even if you have adequate experience cum background in different foreign languages.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a language school is no doubt expensive except you choose to start on a small scale. The amount needed to acquire the required business licenses, purchase customized software apps, training facility and pay your workers are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital. So, if you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large – scale language school with loads of full-time employees.

No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your language school;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and friends.

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Language school businesses requires that you position the business within cities with loads of foreigners or immigrant communities hence it must be located in good location; a location that is ideal for language training and a location that is at the epicenter of international study centers if indeed you want to attend to loads of clients.

The fact that you can operate your language school from any part of the world does not mean that location has little influence on the success of a language school. If you have taken your time to study language schools, you will realize that language schools and related businesses are willing to partner with migrant communities to help handle all their language concerns.

So, if you are looking for a location for your language school business, ensure that it is a place that is located in a commercial flying center and aviation hub in your city, a place that is visible and easily accessible. Of course, you would not want to locate this type of business in the outskirts of town.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

If you are considering starting a language school, then you would need to develop your own unique language and administrative software application, secured internet platform and online payment system (that will help you facilitate easy payment of training fee and payment for certificates). Also, you will definitely need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regard leasing or outright purchase of an office and training facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent/lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location/facility for such business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard language school, you should make plans to hire a competent Principal Partner (Owner), School Administrator, Tutors for Various Languages, Sales and Marketing Officer, Accounting Clerk, and Customer Service Executives. You may need a minimum of 15 full time staff to start a language school.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

Language schools and skill acquisition centers are established with the aim of teaching students technical and trade skill set. In essence, a student is expected to enroll in a language school if they have the language or certifications he or she wants to acquire in the list of their courses.

As it relates to language school, any student that enrolls has their aim for enrolling in the school. They want to learn a new language for the purpose of acquiring conversational skills for personal enrichment or for educational opportunities or just for fun. So, when a student pays for the training, they are expected to achieve the above within a stated period.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

The fact that the entry barrier for starting even a small – scale language school business is low means that more players would want to come into the industry if they have space. In essence, you must come up with unique marketing strategies if you must carve out a market for yourself within the available market in your community, city, state or country.

So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience as a language instructor, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place.

Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your language school business;

  • Introduce your language school by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to immigrant communities, colleges and other key stake holders in and outside the city where your language school is located
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your language school and services.
  • Join local language school associations for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount for your customers
  • Advertise our business in community – based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)

17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

One key factor that will help you offer your language training services at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your working capital from sources that won’t put pressure on you or give you high interest rate.

Another strategy that will help you offer language school services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services.

So also, if you are able to secure business partnerships as it relates to getting referrals, you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.

18. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The availability of reliable and easy to learn language programs in your school, availability of a professional language instructors in your company, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.

Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and your services can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.

19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.

If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also attract new customers.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.

With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your language school;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and education magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community – based events/programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your language school
  • Install your Bill Boards on strategic locations all around the location where you have your language school
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your language school in local directories/yellow pages
  • Advertise your language school in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
  • Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your language school is located.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and vans are well branded with your company logo et al.
Ajaero Tony Martins