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Has anyone ever tried to start their own school?

 
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bohinj



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2003 5:34 pm    Post subject: Has anyone ever tried to start their own school? Reply with quote

I was wondering if anyone out there has tried to start their own school. My husband and I are moving to a very desirable tourist destination and thought it might be a great opportunity to mix ESL lessons (in the morning) with sightseeing tours (in the afternoon). My husband is currently an ESL teacher (5 years experience and management experience in another field) and I have 3 years ESL teaching experience.
Any advice and opinions would be greatly appreciated.
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2003 5:00 am    Post subject: A Few Suggestions... Reply with quote

Of course,it is your business where the "very desirable tourist location is...and perhaps you do not want to post it.But perhaps we could give you better advice if we knew the location.

For real information,I suggest you contact the embassy of the specific country in the US or wherever you are posting from.Depending on the country,there may also be specific organizations set up to help foreigners who want to start a business in that country.Again,it is hard to tell without knowing which country.

Setting up a business is usually not easy,not even in your native country.The problems are compounded in most foreign countries for a number of reasons,including language,licensing requirements,other paperwork requirements, taxes,building codes etc,etc,etc.

Are you sure you and your husband actually want a formal school as opposed to just giving some private lessons?Again,with a school,you will almost undoubtedly have to hire other teachers(probably some foreign).

It is not an easy task.I have not done it myself.But I know a man who did it in Mexico.He quit after three years,and sold his school.He said "Never again.The problems are immense."Of course,it might be a bit easier in some countries than others.Best of luck Smile
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bohinj



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2003 9:56 pm    Post subject: We're thinking of Hawaii for the school Reply with quote

Sorry, I should have included more details.
We are considering Hawaii for the location of the school. It would be located within walking distance of the beach and probably targeted to Japanese primarily. (FYI-We are Americans.) Fortunately, we both taught in Japan and have quite a few friends who can help us create marketing materials (website, ads, etc.) in Japanese, based on our English text.
I know many of the pitfalls of starting a business but am wondering some specifically for starting a school. Such as visa issues, as you mentioned.
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2003 10:19 pm    Post subject: Very Interesting. Reply with quote

Well,since Hawaii is in the US,you will probably have no more difficulties setting up a school than you would anywhere else in the US. If you are talking about visa issues for your students(?) the Japanese,I suggest you contact someone official, like the US Embassy,who could give you detailed info on all the ons and outs,etc.I doubt if anyone on this forum can give you detailed info like that. I know I can't.

It sounds like a very interesting possibility.Good luck with your plans.
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Sherri



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Posts: 748
Location: The Big Island, Hawaii

PostPosted: Mon Jun 02, 2003 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds like a great opportunity. Just do your homework carefully. Check out your competition, find out what they are offering and for how much. Decide what you can do to be unique in the market--why students should choose your school and not another. Think also carefully about how you will advertise. I know you mentioned websites which is great, but you have to think about how to get people to look at them. You may have to advertise in the Japanese media which can be very expensive and/or hire agents to get students for you.

Hope this helps--good luck.
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kimo



Joined: 16 Feb 2003
Posts: 668

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2003 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if you know anything about market research, but there are a lot of details you need to consider. Start-up costs, licenses, rent/facilities, equipment, insurance, competition, your clientele (sp), and on and on. Your idea about afternoon tours - is that a new idea or not. What can you do special to attract students? Hawaii is a tough place to do business. It's laws border on the socialists fringes. People are close knit there. It's expensive.

Palm trees and breezes are nice, but you better know what you're getting into. Your idea is not new.
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Irish



Joined: 13 Jan 2003
Posts: 371

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2003 6:26 am    Post subject: Dis ain't gonna be easy, sistah Reply with quote

Sherri and Kimo have made the key points here. As Sherri said, you must come up with something unique to set yourself apart from the language schools already in existence. (We're talking about real schools, of course, not the visa mills--that's a whole nuther story.) Kimo is also correct about the expense and the importance of knowing people. If you've got long established connections here, wonderful, but it's still no guarantee. But nothing is ever guaranteed, is it? The fact that you and your husband have experience with Japanese students is a definite plus.

I'm not entirely clear on the "sightseeing" part of your venture. If you mean using tours as part of English instruction, yes, this is done (at least it's done by my school). Since you mention this, I presume that you know Hawaii very well--another must if you're going to make this work. After all, you'll be competing with the hungry grads of UH-Manoa, HPU, and BYU-H for these customers.

Broadly, the outlook is not good right now--we've got falling enrollments in existing language schools and fewer Japanese arrivals in general. Several international students have told me that getting a visa is increasingly difficult due to new governmental restrictions so many of them are cutting back on their study plans. (Thanks, George and John.)

My apologies for painting such a bleak picture but I feel like I should give you fair warning about this. If you like, feel free to PM me and pick my brain (won't take you more than a minute or two, what with it being so small). If I can't answer your questions, I'll try to find someone who can.

Remember: making it in Hawaii is simple provided you have buckets of cash, connections, and buckets of cash.

Oh, and bringing some cash wouldn't hurt either.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11722
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2003 11:44 am    Post subject: how to make a small fortune Reply with quote

An remember that old one which distills a lot of folk wisdom :

A. How do I make a small fortune in this business ?
B. Start off with a large fortune.


Negative ? Or realistic ?
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kimo



Joined: 16 Feb 2003
Posts: 668

PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2003 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There will always be naysayers. There will always be people who want to throw good money after bad. Some things are not easy to get off the ground even with wads of cash. Just ask nasa. Check out the following link for more thought on this thread.

http://eflplanet.com/teachers/viewtopic.php?t=133
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kimo



Joined: 16 Feb 2003
Posts: 668

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2003 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any update on this post? Seems everyone would like to open a school in Hawaii.
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IamtheWalrus



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 20
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2003 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I have been thinking of the same thing. Actually, seems like a lot of esl schools operate in california, where I am. From what I have been told by students, it;s a good way to get into the country since school visa is easier to obtain. The school issues a certain form to the student that goes right to the embassy so they can get the visa.

This software/authorization to use the software from the US in order to get the student visa, seem to be the biggest hurdle to starting your own business and be very successful. So that's my question...what's the process in getting this done?

Anyone?

Thanks!
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bohinj



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2003 3:21 pm    Post subject: Update on Hawaii venture Reply with quote

Well, my husband and I are still in the thinking about it phase. We are a little short of cash to start so we're thinking of a stint in the Middle East for a couple years to beef up the bank account. Also, I think we're going to wait a bit for the economy to improve. My husband works in a school in California and students are having a harder time paying tuition although I think general enrollment is stable.
About the visa issue...we imagine our school to be more like a vacation/camp than a traditional language school. So, instead of the traditional package tour that insulates the foreigner from English, we would offer a chance to improve their language skills while on vacation. We would offer a maximum of 3 weeks, so the visa issue wouldn't come into play--they'd be on a tourist visa.
I'm sure this will not make us millionaires but that's not what we are looking for--we just want to do something we enjoy, make a little money and live where we have an ocean view.
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Corey



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Posts: 112
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have done the math for this. It can't be used for your specific situation, but you can use the general parameters. Send an PM if you want more info.

Good luck
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