Author Topic: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks  (Read 5969 times)

Cheryl

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Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« on: June 13, 2016, 05:46:12 PM »
I have a small tutoring business!  By which I mean, it's just me.  I tutor people.  So, definitely too small to consider renting office space or anything of the sort.  Until recently, I would go to my students, and tutor them where ever they were.  This meant a lot of time biking all over the place - DFW's quite spread out.  Tired of this nonsense, I recently lowered my rates and declared my students must come to me.  Currently, that means meeting in the Starbucks right outside my apartment.  But I also now have no roommate, and an apartment plenty big enough to devote some area to my tutoring business.  I've listed some benefits to tutoring from home vs. Starbucks below, and I'd like your thoughts!

Starbucks:

 - Safer.  I'm a 30yo woman living alone with a small cat.  Meeting in a public place is safer from physical attack, theft, creepy dudes, etc.  I'm not natural paranoid on this topic; quite the opposite.  I leave windows open, run alone at night, and I'm extremely lucky in that I've never had anything very bad happen to me in the creepy-dude/crime category.  For exactly that reason, I don't trust my instincts here.  Instincts say "Of course you can invite your students into your home!  I'm sure they're all decent human beings!  Even the returning college students!  Also, puppies live forever, and rainbows are made by unicorns!"

 - I don't have to clean.  I'm not naturally a cleaner.  If I tutored at home, I'd have to switch this completely and keep a nice, professional living room.

 - Free internet!  Currently, I just have a fairly cheap data plan for my phone, no home internet.  Tutoring from home, I'd need wifi for my students.  This would still be cheaper than Starbucks, because I wouldn't be paying for a coffee every day.

 - Often more comfortable for students.  It can be awkward, coming into someone else's home.  They don't have to worry about finding good parking, or their slight allergy to cats.  And, though it's not intuitively obvious, I find students focus better in a public place with some background noise, than a quiet home.  Don't ask me to explain it, just my observation.

 - Hey, coffee.  $4 is a lot for coffee, but it's not a lot for coffee + hours of a table + internet.

 - One time expenses: better table (my current's no good for spreading books all over on a regular basis), maybe a bookshelf to show off my collection of study manuals, which I'd also have to buy (I really don't use these much at all tutoring.  Students bring their own.), better lamp, probably some other stuff to make the space look all nice and professional.


Home:

 - Cheaper.  I'd have to get home internet, but I wouldn't be buying a daily coffee, plus the occasional snack.  I haven't researched home internet prices or anything, but $4 coffee * 6 days a week = $24/week ~> $96/mo.  OMG, THAT'S RIDICULOUSLY INSANE WTF AM I THINKING!?

 - ... That's really the only benefit I can think of.  The Starbucks is THAT close.


So.  Lots of reasons the Starbucks is easier and safer.  On the other hand, let's call it at least $100/mo to go to Starbucks, which is clearly ridiculous.  No, I'm not going to just not buy anything, I often take up one of their tables for several hours at a time.  I could probably find something cheaper on the menu to buy as my token purchase, but they only go so cheap.


Third option: Public library.  Yes, there's one just over a mile away.  It would work fine.  When it's open.  During the regular school year, I get a ton of evening students, when the library's not open anyway, so I don't really consider it a viable option.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  In the Dallas area and need a math tutor?

Thanks!

Mongoose

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2016, 06:06:48 PM »
In your position, I would probably use the library when it was open and Starbucks the rest of the time. And just consider the coffee and other purchases as part of the price of doing business.

woopwoop

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2016, 06:37:34 PM »
Yeah, coffee is like $2, not $4. And I think a bagel is the same if you'd rather do that. I would do the library if possible, then Starbucks if you have to.

Another benefit for doing it from home is being able to write off part of your home as a home office deduction come tax time. And no cost for gas/depreciation for your commute (assuming you drive and don't bike).

If you're going to drive, though, I would meet them at their homes - you can definitely charge a premium for home visits, and require that the parents be there to supervise if you feel uncomfortable. I used to do this when tutoring and you end up with clients who pay up to twice as much for the convenience factor. 

Jags4186

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2016, 06:43:34 PM »
Yeah, coffee is like $2, not $4. And I think a bagel is the same if you'd rather do that. I would do the library if possible, then Starbucks if you have to.

Another benefit for doing it from home is being able to write off part of your home as a home office deduction come tax time. And no cost for gas/depreciation for your commute (assuming you drive and don't bike).

If you're going to drive, though, I would meet them at their homes - you can definitely charge a premium for home visits, and require that the parents be there to supervise if you feel uncomfortable. I used to do this when tutoring and you end up with clients who pay up to twice as much for the convenience factor.

2 things.

1) if you have a dedicated work space you could still "write it off" and just say you're tutoring from home.
2) if you don't have a dedicated work space, tutoring at home wouldn't matter...you can't take a deduction.

bop

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2016, 06:48:08 PM »
I was a math tutor for many years in New York City (Manhattan), and used to see students in my home.  Much more convenient than traveling to each student.  But I'm a guy, and our students (more precisely, their parents) had to call the agency office first to arrange a tutor match and the signing of a contract. 

Tick-Tock

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2016, 06:50:59 PM »
Unfortunately, another safety factor is that by seeing students in your home, you could leave yourself open to a harassment or molestation claim.  Or potential liability if someone were injured.  Is there insurance coverage?

iris lily

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2016, 06:54:56 PM »


Another benefit for doing it from home is being able to write off part of your home as a home office deduction come tax time...

Not really, unless the tax law has changed in the past few years from the time when we looked into it for DH's business which he ran from our kitchen table.

If I remember correctly the space has to be dedicated to the business and no other activity takes place there. The living room n this scenario wouldn't qualify. My opinion only.

« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 08:24:58 AM by iris lily »

sis

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2016, 06:56:23 PM »
Your home would be quieter so the student could focus better.  There are definite liability issues with inviting them into your apartment.  I'd go with the starbucks option.  I currently do the tutoring students in their own home deal, but I have met students in starbucks, pret, and the library if for some reason their homes were not suitable.  One lady had a messy apartment with two very hairy cats to which I'm allergic - I met her daughter at the starbucks near their apartment instead.  If any of your students are allergic to cats, your apartment probably wouldn't be suitable.  For me at least, I'm a pretty private person and didn't enjoy tutoring out of my apartment (which I did for one student).


MakeSmarterDecisions

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2016, 06:57:45 PM »
Not sure if you are interested in this or not, but have you ever considered tutoring online with the students you work with?  I have used online programs that allow you to tape the session (nice for you and the student) and they have virtual whiteboards too. Let me know if you are interested.  Happy to share more information. Safe and easy for everyone - not my preferred, but it definitely worked for my students.

mousebandit

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2016, 08:23:00 PM »
I second the idea of using the library when open, and starbucks the rest of the time.  I would say, though, if you do have any students come to your home, invest in a couple of ceiling mounted videocams.  Make it known that all tutoring sessions are taped.  Maybe even look into one of the home-security services - they might have some sort of live-monitoring available for reasonable rate, that you could utilize when a student is in your home.  But, for me, home is private.  I barely let family in, haha!  I also love the idea of online tutoring.  I had a friend who did that, and it brought in a nice little sideline income for her. 


Dicey

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2016, 09:49:00 PM »
I'm not a Starbucks fan, but my walking partner has a little caffeine addiction. Thrice weekly, we walk up hills to get to Starbucks. We stop to catch our breath, order overpriced beverages*, chat a bit, then go climb more hills. It took me a while to get over my aversion to SB, and I'm proud/revulsed to admit I am a cary-carrying Gold something something somethng now.

*Zero chance of breaking/disrupting her SB habit. I've calculated that my total SB spend is under $10/week. Since I'm FIRE, it's worth it to me to have a fantastic walking partner and at least I get a "free" edible something every now and then. (Hint: never waste your freebie on a beverage. Use it for food. Totally allowed.)

The SB we frequent most often is very small. I gotta say it PISSES ME OFF when people use SB to conduct regular business and camp out at one of the few tables for long periods of time. WTF people? Why do you expect to get a free pass on paying for overhead? Any other kind of business has to deal with overhead, why should ANY coffee shop owner have to pay for yours? I really don't get it. <End mini-rant that I didn't see coming. Oops!>

My advice is to use the library as much as possible, but don't be a jerk about the space you use. Yeah, I'm a hard-core library supporter/volunteer and the tutors get very possessive about "their" space. I have the same problem with tutors who charge for their services avoiding paying overhead courtesy the public library, but not as much as in the coffee shop scenario. For profit vs. not-for-profit and all.

I agree that being a single woman can be problematic. So is trying to learn in a noisy environment when you are paying good money for personalized attention. I would look for an out-of-the-box solution. Belong to a church/synagogue? Can you use space there? How about sharing space with someone who has room to spare? An insurance agent? An accountant's office? A pre-school after hours? How about a neighbor with a larger than needed apartment? A naturally neat and tidy person might want to make a few bucks on the side letting you use their space at times that are not inconvenient for them. In other words, not your home and not Starbucks. You can do it!

RamonaQ

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2016, 08:10:39 AM »
Check with your local library to see if they allow for-profit tutors to work there.  Several public libraries around me have policies against people conducting businesses out of the library, including tutoring.  Volunteer tutors are allowed, but not for-profit ones.

I have no idea if your library has a similar rule (or if they enforce it if they do) but it would be good to know before you instruct people to meet you there and then get rebuked by library staff.

teen persuasion

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2016, 08:42:54 AM »
I work in a public library, and we have tutors meet students there daily.  The tutors prefer a public meeting place, for liability issues.  They find their students are less distracted than they'd be at home (the student's home, that is).  They also prefer to avoid mandatory reporting issues they might have to bring up that they can't help but notice in a student's home.  We provide free Wi-Fi, and public computers and printing capabilities if needed.  We can also provide reference materials, and ILL items for future sessions.

sis

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2016, 09:05:09 AM »
I work in a public library, and we have tutors meet students there daily.  The tutors prefer a public meeting place, for liability issues.  They find their students are less distracted than they'd be at home (the student's home, that is).  They also prefer to avoid mandatory reporting issues they might have to bring up that they can't help but notice in a student's home.  We provide free Wi-Fi, and public computers and printing capabilities if needed.  We can also provide reference materials, and ILL items for future sessions.

Private tutors aren't mandated reporters.  Just FYI.  I know public school teachers are :-)  I had to do a fair bit of mandated reporting in my day and it is always so draining, but ultimately it is the right thing to do.

ariapluscat

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Re: Home Tutoring vs. Starbucks
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2016, 10:42:06 AM »
You can often reserve space in the library or even the school that the student attends.
Reserving a room does avoid the concern of bothering other library patrons.

I'm not sure about your living situation, but you mention an apartment. Is there a common area in the apartment?

Similar to Diane C's comment, is there a rec or youth center near you that you could use?

While it may not be necessary, but if you go for a free option like a library or youth center, it might be nice to provide them with an hour of free tutoring or volunteer work as a sign of appreciation.