Do you want to start an educational consulting agency? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a educational consulting agency with NO money and no experience plus a sample educational consulting agency business plan template. If you are an educationist or someone who has a background in educational matters, and you intend starting your business, then you should consider starting your own educational consulting firm.
There are many would–be local and international students aspiring to go to colleges/universities who are trapped simply because they don’t know who to talk to when they have challenges with testing and educational related issues, that is why it is important to set up your own education consulting firm.
Being an educational consultant means that you will help your clients handle all their educational concerns, help them gain admission to colleges or universities of their choice. You can also help your clients (international students) obtain work permits in their new country of residence.
Basically, starting an education consulting agency is not too expensive except for the money required to rent and furnish an office space. Running this type of business requires that you should be trained as an educationist and it is indeed a very lucrative business in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom simply because of the inflow of international students from different parts of the world.
So, if you are a highly skilled entrepreneur who has a penchant for educational issues, and then you might want to venture into this business. If you have been tinkering with starting your own educational consultancy agency, but do not know how to go about it, then you should mull over using the following measures which this article promises to give.
17 Steps to Starting an Educational Consulting Agency
1. Understand the Industry
Establishments in the Testing & Educational Support industry that educational consultancy agencies belong to primarily provide non-instructional support services for the educational industries. The major segments of this industry are educational testing services and educational consultants. It is important to state that computer software designers that develop education support software are not part of the Testing & Educational Support industry; they are part of the IT Consulting industry.
If you are a close observer of the Testing & Educational Support industry, you will agree that the controversial No Child Left Behind Act in the united states has been an important driver of revenue for the Testing and Educational Support industry over the past decade.
This is due to the fact that education consultants play a prominent role in administering the assessments that ensure schools meet federal guidelines. Hence, the industry will be heavily impacted in the next half a decade by potential education reforms and fluctuations in federal funding.
Nevertheless, college enrollment will continue to expand over the period, and international student growth will continue, driven by high demand from students from Nigeria, China and India. Even though tighter state budgets will limit unnecessary expenditure, underlying demand for support services will still be sustained.
The Testing & Educational Support Industry is indeed a large industry and pretty much active in countries such as United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Australia, Canada et al.
Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 7,639 registered and licensed education consulting firms scattered all across the United States responsible for employing about 115,967 and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $15 billion annually. The industry is projected to grow at 3.4 percent annual growth within 2011 and 2016. It is important to state that ETS and Pearson PLC have the largest available market share in the industry.
A recent research carried out by IBISWORLD reveals that the Testing and Educational Support industry has expanded over the last five years to 2016. The report stated that during this time, revenue grew at an average annual rate of 0.9 percent to $13.7 billion in 2016.
The report pointed that the Testing and Educational Support industry is composed of three main segments: educational testing providers, educational consultants and student-exchange program providers. While overall growth has been strong, these segments have experienced different levels of growth over the past five years, with educational testing services accounting for the largest share of revenue growth.
The research further revealed that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 has driven industry demand during much of the past decade. Under NCLB, which was signed into law in January 2002, states had to implement major educational changes to remain eligible for federal funding.
As a matter of fact, educational consultancy business will continue to blossom because more and more local and international students are beginning to realize that somehow, they would need the services of educational consultancy agencies to help them make the right decisions when it comes to choosing colleges and universities and also help them handle all their educational related issues. From all available statistics, it is safer to say that the industry is growing steadily despite the competitive nature of the industry.
Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own educational consultancy business could be that the business is easy to set up and the start-up capital is indeed affordable; you can actually start your own educational consultancy agency business from the comfort of your house. All you need to do is create an office somewhere in your house. People usually pay you for the result you can help them achieve as it relates to their educational related concerns.
Lastly, one thing is certain about starting an educational consultancy agency, if you are able to conduct your market research and feasibility studies, you are more likely not going to struggle to secure clients because there are always individuals, and even educational institutions/schools that would want to hire your services from time to time.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the services of educational consultancy agencies is not restricted to students (both local and international) who are under school age, but are also available to working class adults who would want to further their education (applying for Master Degree and PhD), educational board and also schools at all levels.
So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your educational consultancy agency business, then you should make it all encompassing. It should include both local and international students at all levels of learning and schools.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Most educational consultancy agencies tend to operate a general educational consulting business that involves every business activity or services that a standard educational consultancy agency is expected to offer. That is why it seems that there are no niche areas in the industry.
But on the other hand, some educational consultancy agencies may decide to major in some key areas or niche areas such as;
- Universities and Colleges Admission runs for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students’ consultancy
- High school and Primary School Admission runs
- International Students Educational Consultancy runs
- Other related Educational advisory and consulting services for Schools and Education Boards
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Surviving in the business world as an educational consultancy agency requires more than your expertise or knowing how to conduct your business. It requires you to know how to network with key people that matters; decision makers that can decide who will get an educational consultancy contract or a business deal especially from the government and schools.
The level of competition in the educational consultancy agencies industry to some extent depends largely on the location of the business and of course the niche of your educational consultancy agency business. If you can successfully create a unique niche for your educational consultancy agency, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.
For instance, if you are the only educational consultancy agency that specializes in helping colleges and universities recruit international students and also handle immigration concerns in your location, you are sure of monopolizing that aspect of the business; your competitors can even sub – contract jobs to you to help them deliver.
When it comes to educational consultancy agencies, distance is never a barrier when competing for clients especially international students. What most clients (colleges and universities want is result, hence they are ready to hire educational consultancy agencies no matter the part of the world they operate from as long as they have good track record and can deliver excellent results when it comes to recruiting international students for them.
But over and above, there are several educational consultancy agencies scattered all around the United States and in the cyber space. So, if you choose to start your own educational consultancy agency in the United States, you will definitely meet stiffer competitions not only amongst educational consultancy agencies in the United States, but also all over the globe especially if you choose to specialize in recruiting international students.
Besides, there are larger educational consultancy agencies and even institutions that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for clients.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
These are some of the leading educational consultancy agencies in the United States of America;
- International Student Education Services
- Aaditya Education and Migration Services
- College Study US
- American Education Partners
- World Education Group, LLC
- Global Student Placement Network
- International Student Placements
- Big Choice Group
- IEMS Group
- Abacus Overseas Education Advisors Pvt. Ltd.
- Academic Opportunities in America
- Access American Education Global, LLC
- ELS Educational Services, Inc. / ELS International Education Counseling and Admissions Services
- Future Link Visa Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
- IAA – International Academic Alliance
- IGEC – International Group For Educational Consultancy
As an aspiring entrepreneur who is looking for a business that requires less stress and perhaps minimal start–up capital, then you can consider starting an educational consultancy agency business. The cost of running an educational consultancy agency when compared to the turnover you get can be poles apart (this is applicable when you have been able to establish your feet in the industry).
Entrepreneurs that venture into educational consultancy agency business can as a matter of fact start the business from their home and still make headway in the business. One thing is certain when it comes to educational consultancy agency and most consulting related businesses, you are sure of making profits when you successfully produce results that are measurable for an organization.
As a matter of fact, the cost of running the business process from start to finish could be restricted to the cost of making phone calls, transportation, internet subscriptions, PR and in some cases materials such as fliers and handbills et al. With that, it is easier to place a projection on the profits you are likely going to make if you are able to successfully secure a deal to handle educational consultancy job for a school.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to start from the scratch as against buying a franchise. First and foremost, before you can secure an educational consultancy job or before students can hire your services to handle their educational concerns, your profile will be scrutinized even if you are operating the franchise of a successful educational consultancy agency brand.
Besides it is expensive and perhaps difficult to come buy a franchise of an educational consultancy agency except you want to partner with colleges and universities especially as it relates to recruiting international students.
Please note that most of the big and successful educational consultancy agencies 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 and of course you can build your own educational consultancy agency brand to become a successful brand in your area of specialization and even go ahead to work for government, education boards, clients both at the national level and global stage.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own educational consultancy agency business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well–established educational consultancy agencies and also colleges and universities who are offering same services that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on students who can’t afford the high-end fees charged by well–established educational consultancy agencies.
Some of the threats that you are likely going to face as an education consulting firm operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies, the arrival of a competitor within your location of operation and global economic downturn which usually affects purchasing/spending power. There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Starting an educational consultancy agency business is indeed a serious business so the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big you want the business to grow. No doubt choosing a legal entity for your business can be a bit challenging.
When it comes to choosing a legal entity for your educational consultancy agency you have the option of choosing from general partnership, a limited partnership, an LLC, a “C” corporation, or a “S” corporation. It is important to clearly state that these different forms of legal structure for business has its own advantages and disadvantages; which is why you must weigh your options properly before making your choice.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your educational consultancy agency business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your advertising agency business, you will agree that Limited Liability Company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or a ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your educational consultancy agency business so as to compete with major players in the industry. You will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company; you will enjoy flexibility in ownership and in your management structures.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
Generally, when it comes to choosing a name for a business, it is expected that 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. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own educational consultancy agency, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Webster & Golden® Education Consulting, LLP
- Excel Educational Consultancy Agency, LLC
- Prime Platoon Educational Consultancy, Inc.
- All School Runs®, Inc.
- Molly Joules Educational Consultancy Agency, LLC
- Higher Learning Education Consulting Group, Inc.
- Brains & Browns International, LLC
- Jake Murphy Educational Services Co.
- Garry White® Educational Recruitment and Immigrations, Inc.
- Flying Colors® Education Consulting, Inc.
- Los Angeles International Company
- Mo City Educational Consultancy Ltd.
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 that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, 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 educational consultancy agency business.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own educational consultancy agency business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own educational consultancy agency 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 the business 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 subject to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Aside from the results you produce, professional certification is one of the main reasons why most educational consultancy agencies/educational consultants stand out. If you want to make impact in the educational consultancy agencies industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. You are strongly encouraged to pursue professional certifications; it will go a long way to show your commitment towards the business.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own educational consultancy agency business;
- Independent Educational Consultant Certificate Program
- Educational Consultant Certificate
- Membership of AIRC – American International Recruitment Council
Please note that the higher your qualifications and experience (expertise), the easier it is for you to secure high profile educational consultancy contracts from government education boards and institutions.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations.
These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own educational consultancy agency business in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License and Certification
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Consulting contract documents
- Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting an educational consultancy agency business can be cost effective especially if you choose to run the business from your home, share office space with a friend or make use of virtual office. Securing a standard office is part of what will consume a large chunk of your start–up capital, but if you choose to start the business on a small scale, you may not have the need to go source for fund to finance the business.
No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first thing and perhaps the major factor that 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 start–up capital for your educational consultancy agency business;
- 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/banks
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Educational consultancy agencies and most service based type of businesses requires that you see physically with your clients hence it must be located in a good location; a location that is prone to both human and vehicular traffic and a location that is at the epicenter of a school/university community if indeed you want to attend to loads of clients and maximize profits from the business.
The fact that you can operate your educational consultancy agency from your home does not mean that locations have little influence on the success of an educational consultancy agency. If you have taken your time to study the educational consultancy agencies cum consulting industry, you will realize that educational consultancy agencies are willing to pay expensive rents in order to stay in a busy university cum business district; a place where student activities are at its peak.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
On the average, there are no special technologies or equipment needed to run this type of business except for customized educational recruitment software and social media management software applications et al. In the bid to work out testing and international students monitoring solutions and also lead generations for your clients, you might be required to design a customized software application.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the educational consultancy agency you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard educational consultancy agency, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your office; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning, structuring and expansion.
As regards the numbers of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Education Consultants, Digital Marketing and Social Medial Management Consultants, Business Development Executive/marketing Executive, Customer Service Officer or Front Desk Officer, and Accountant.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 8 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard educational consultancy agency. Please note that there will be times when you are expected to go out of your way to hire experts to help you handle some high – profile education consultancy contracts/jobs especially from government education boards.
If you are just starting out you may not have the financial capacity or required business structure to retain all the professionals that are expected to work with you which is why you should make plans to partner with other educational experts that operate as freelancers.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
On the average, the way educational consultancy agency works varies from one agency to another agency, but ideally, an educational consultancy agency is expected to first and foremost build a robust company’s profile before biding for educational consultancy contracts from the government school board and educational institutions; it will give them edge amongst their competitors.
Basically, most educational consultancy agencies are into recruiting students, both local and international students, for colleges and universities within and outside the United States of America. Once it is time for admission, they help the colleges and universities they are recruiting for advertise the available admission programs (Certificate, Diploma, First Degree, Masters and PhD programs).
They help provide the needed assistance that will guarantee students admission and they charge consultancy fee from the students and in some cases, they get commissions per students from the educational institutions they are working for. Some educational consultancy agencies also help in administering testing for international students and also in handling immigrational issues for international students.
So, it is expected that an educational consultancy agency would deploy all their expertise to produce result for their clients (educational institutions and students). Brainstorming both internally and externally on best practices is common amongst educational consultants.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
As an educational consultant, you would have to prove your worth over and over again before you can be awarded any educational consultancy contract. So, if you have plans to start your own educational consultancy agency, it will pay you to first build a successful career in the Testing & Educational Support industry.
People and organizations will hire your services to help them handle all their educational consultancy needs if they know that they are going to get value for their money.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans and strategies for your educational consultancy agency, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company’s profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to educational consultancy services and the organizations you have worked for in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place when sourcing for educational consultancy contracts.
Please note that in most cases, when you bid for educational consultancy contracts et al from colleges, universities and government education board, you will be called upon to defend your proposal, and so you must be pretty good with presentations.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your educational consultancy agency services;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the schools (colleges and universities et al), households and international student communities in the United States.
- Promptness in bidding for educational consultancy contracts et al.
- Advertise your business in relevant education magazines, radio stations and TV stations (make yourself available for educational consultancy related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radios).
- List your business on local directories/yellow pages.
- Attend international students’ recruitment expos, seminars, business fairs et al.
- Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets.
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your business, people who consider you an expert in the field).
- Join local chambers of commerce around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you 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 fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
If your intention of starting an educational consultancy agency is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both print and electronic media and also social media (the internet). As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.
Another strategy is to sponsor relevant community based programs, TV and radio programs, advertise your business in relevant magazines and newspapers. Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and to promote and advertise your business;
- Place adverts on community based educational and related newspapers, radio stations and TV stations.
- Encourage the use of word of mouth publicity from your loyal customers
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Badoo, Google+ and other platforms to promote your business.
- Ensure that you position your banners and billboards in strategic positions all around your city
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas in and around our neighborhood
- Contact migrant communities, schools, and households et al by calling them up and informing them of your organization and the educational support services you offer
- Advertise your business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Brand all your official cars and school buses and ensure that all our staff members and management staff wears our branded shirt or cap at regular intervals.
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