Start your own school Tip 1: Where to hold class?

Since I started talking last week about why I think it’s a good idea to start your own school I’ve had lots of people emailing in saying they are starting to look round for places to rent.

I’d say that’s probably not such a good thing to do!

When you start any business, keeping your costs as low as possible is really important. And committing to a regular monthly payment will hinder your starting cash flow.

When you need it.

Rather than buying or taking a lease, I’d recommend renting a room only when you need it. Community centers, churches, local organisations as well as business centers can all offer rooms for rent for specific times. It is more expensive per hour, but it’s a lot less than having to quickly fill up enough classes to pay a full rental agreement.

Of course if you have the room then you can always just start in your own house. That’s how I started my first school, and it’s also how many of the big name schools also started!

The very best way…

Or one even better tip, depending on where you are, is to offer to hold English classes after regular classes in a normal school or other schools such as ballet, art, music schools etc. If you get an understanding head teacher it works out great as they can advertise that they have extra curricular classes, you get a much reduced rent, kids don’t have to commute (and are hence rarely late) and best of all the parents get an extra hours “free” child care!

That in many cases can persuade parents that your class is perfect for their kids!

More to come soon!

Be genki,


P.S. Β  And remember a school doesn’t have to be a “school” Β These days it could be a beach, or a mountain or anywhere….

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. When I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. Now I help teachers just like you teach amazing lessons and double your incomes!

26 Responses to “Start your own school Tip 1: Where to hold class?”

  1. Flossy

    Richard – I totally agree with this advice. I work in school’s privately in the afternoons. The furniture is perfect, the lighting, the electrics, the space, the board etc. The children also are very comfortable being in their own schools.

    I am so fortunate as I never have to pay for the classrooms. My schools are happy to have extra English lessons later in the day too.

    I also have a group organised by a parents group. This was so wonderful in the early days when the language barrier was still there. I would say if you can get a new found friend to help it is so worthwhile too. Trying to write an advertisment in a new language can be a nightmare when you first arrive in another country.

    I have also found that the old saying “If you don’t ask…” is so true!!!

  2. Aurora CortΓ©s GΓ³mez

    For me the material has been very useful. I only an hour a day to children in first grade, but to them and me, we seemed a bit boring classes, when I met your videos and how to teach the class I loved, so, I hope to God this month is closed a business to make some money, because I want to buy the package for teachers, and student, as I want in the place I live will use it to teach children their programs, I’ll get back to that. Many thanks for all the material sent to me. First thing I do when I enter my e-mail is to see if Genki.Att. Aurora

  3. Les

    I’ve been looking for software programs for
    teaching English to Chinese students and, so far,
    have come up with very little. Do you know where
    we could buy suitable software for students from
    Beginner to Intermediate?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

  4. Anli


    I’m teaching in China for the moment. I really like the Genki English material so I’m considering to start my own school/classes and use this material.

    Does someone have the experience of starting his/her own teaching business in China? Any tips on getting the license and other paper work done?

    Thanks in advance!

  5. Liliana Gonçalves


    I’m considering to start my own school with of course all the material I bought from you, as it is really amazing. I already have a place to run my school, it’s a kind of a warehouse that my uncle gave me in and I won’t have to pay any rent, so it’s great. I wonder if you can help me with the name for my school, because everytime I come up with an idea it seems to me it doesn’t fit…

    Thank you so much for your tips!

    And thanks in advance!


  6. richard

    Sounds fantastic Liliana!

    As for the name, I’m sure there must be something with the “li”s in Liliana and the “li” in English …?!

  7. Phil


    Getting the licenses for a school in China can be a lot of hard work.

    You will need to sort things out with the Educational Bureau, Price Bureau, Tax Bureau, Fire Department, Foreign Affairs Bureau…

    Every province is a bit different. In some places, if you are just going to run a REALLY small school, then you might not need to bother with anything. But as soon as you start getting bigger and taking students away from legitimate schools you will run into problems (your competitors will report you).

    Having said that, i’ve done it successfully for my schools so it’s certainly not impossible.

  8. Luke

    Hi Richard!

    I have some advice for your ‘start your own school tip section’ — I am honestly loving it, but I found it hard to navigate– your related posts don’t have the ‘next step’ link ;or I can’t find it πŸ™

    Basically, I search google for the next tips on your site..

    Please keep up the good work!!

  9. Dany

    hi rihard!
    yes I’m do not have my own school but I’m manager at the school. yes my school was start 7months already but still haven’t students. I want to know how can I do?
    The way I have did:
    – Maketing (advertiments)
    – Discount
    – have good curricular classes
    and I thought the problem is from the place because the place is no people see and cross that way.
    so How can I do?

    thaks you


  10. Richard

    Hi Dany,

    First of all congratulations on starting the school! OK, let’s get you some students.

    First of all have a read through the rest of these posts and I think you’ll get an idea of how we do things:

    Having an amazing, world class curriculum is a must have, but marketing and discounts usually aren’t the way to go.

    What you need to find is one student via friends of friends. Ask around, someone somewhere will not be happy with their children’s English class, show them how you will do a much, much better job of teaching their children.
    Then find another student this way.
    Keep going until you have a full class of 6 or 8.
    Then do amazing work getting those students as amazing as possible as quickly as possible.
    Now you have success stories whose parents will tell all their friends and so and and so on.

    Being proactice and doing it this way will always work better than hoping for someone to walk into the school!

    Good luck, read the rest of the posts and be genki!


  11. eric wu

    hi, Anli and les ,

    i aslo have a thought that starting a school in china, how is your status ? i hope we can communicate via qq:8058101


  12. Amanda

    Love the website and all the effort you put into your curriculum! I’m currently teaching at a private school in Japan but considering the possibility of starting my own school, preferably by using an elementary school classroom after hours. I guess I just have a few major questions:

    1. How would the Visa situation work in that scenario? I’m not married to a local, so how could I go about getting a visa that would let me basically do freelance teaching?

    2. How would you recommend finding or approaching a school about letting me use a classroom? Granted my Japanese is pretty intermediate at this point and getting better with time and study.

    I really like your tips and plan on using a pricing/schedule scheme similar to the one my current employer uses since it seems to be so successful, and of course I’d love to use Genki English for much of my curriculum. My major speed bumps are simply securing a location, figuring out my Visa status and any other legal issues that might arise from teaching my own after school classes.

    I would love any help/advice you can give. πŸ™‚

  13. Richard

    @Amanda: 1) The best bet for visas is to look on the immigration website or give them a call. In the past I have heard of people starting whilst on their current work visa (with their current school’s blessing), or working holiday visa or you could even go for a financial investor visa, but that is more complicated. Best bet is to check with immigration.

    2) Japan is one of the few countries where school classrooms aren’t usually the best option – because if they could be rented out, everyone would have already rented them! But there are lots of publicly available rental rooms around, either public or private, that’s what I do with workshops in different cities.

    And definitely work on the Japanese, getting fluent will be the single biggest thing you can do to help your business succeed!

  14. Hoa

    Hi Richard,
    I am going to start my own school in Vietnam. I am thinking about using Ipads in my English teaching for the kids and adults as well. So would you please give me some ideas for this? I wonder if your programs would be able to use for Ipads?

  15. Eric Cele

    I live in South Africa. I’m wishing to start an English and computer classess for high school learners. I wish advise such as where to start, how project can be founded, can state helps with funds or material?

  16. Kerry

    Hi Richard,
    Do you know the procedure for starting an after school program from home in Japan? I can’t find the information anywhere.

    I think your materials would be great for this venture

  17. Richard Graham

    Hi Kerry,

    In general many teachers in Japan just start up without needing anything beyond insurance and then just declaring the income on their tax returns. Once you get beyond that there are other things you can do, but nothing very complicated compared with other countries. But as always I’m not an accountant/lawyer so always seek professional advice. πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  18. Anam

    Hi Richard, would really appreciate your adive.

    How would you recommend to set up a business English class in Shanghai?

    I want to set up 2 classes to teach business english in shanghai.4 hours each,4 per class 130rmb/hour = Β£15/hour.I have a degree in economics.importantly i have a track record in real business and have mentored groups of 80 people in sales and professional development plus over Β£230k in sales. Where do i start,

    i will be working at a school teaching english with a full visa as well, i just want to start a small side project as well.

  19. Richard Graham

    Hi Anam,

    First of all check your prices. With your experience, don’t compare to local English class prices. Check the local Chinese language business development courses and price your lessons accordingly. Otherwise you will be perceived as being too cheap and not of value.

    If you’re just starting out then I instead of a class, I would jump straight into a professional coaching service. That way you’ll not only learn what the local market needs, you’ll also set up set up a professional level stream of income. Do the coaching in 3 month blocks, then if you want to switch to teaching classes you can. Good luck, Shanghai is a fantastic market!

  20. John

    Great website! I’m a Korean Canadian looking to move (back) to Korea so my wife can be with your relatives. I’ve heard this is a great business and I think I may give it a go as well. I will be living near Pyeongtaek or Seosan, Chung-nam. Keep up the great work!

  21. Divya Dubey

    I want open my own school ? I really appriciate ur advice .
    Plz help me how to open my school with Genki material step by step .
    Plz help

  22. Richard Graham

    Welcome John and @Divya, just put the steps into practice on these pages and you’ll be ready to go!

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