The teacher entrepreneur

Jennifer Hudson
January 10, 2020

Teaching is just awesome. Right?

Whether you're a wellness instructor teaching yoga, pilates, or fitness, or if you teach languages, music, or cooking, or whatever is — helping others to learn something is one of the most rewarding ways to earn a living. As a teacher, you're truly helping your students to grow, and you yourself end up learning and growing in the process, as you get deeper and deeper into the thing or the topic that is dear to your heart.

When you first decided to teach, you probably thought mostly about what you can teach, how you can teach it, and the kinds of things that happen inside the classroom.

Nobody told you anything about all the stuff that you might have to deal with outside of the classroom.

Maybe you imagined you would just show up to lead classes at the gym or in the studio, or in a school. You do the teaching — the school or venue will handle the rest.

Well, as we all know, the world has been going through some big changes. For many, teaching as an employee or contractor at a venue is no longer viable or even possible.

Tons of places have been forced to shut their doors permanently, as economic conditions deteriorate and as more and more people take classes online, through the internet.

But there's a huge silver lining for teachers: the fundamentals haven't changed at all: there are still hundreds of millions of people who want to learn something with a good teacher. And many instructors are finding that they can do better than ever before by going independent.

Especially with online teaching —  it's a really huge opportunity. You can now teach people all over the country or even the world, and you can really specialize and teach exactly what you want and how you always wanted… and there's virtually no limit to how big you can grow your business.

It's actually never been easier to become your own boss and do your own thing!

So, being a teacher is great... but being independent in and of itself is also an amazing way to earn a living.

You're in charge, doing things the way you want, not compromising, not answering to anyone, and pursuing your goals and dreams. And that's just talking about the thrill of it... we haven't even mentioned the financial rewards that independence can bring.

Teacherpreneurs have two jobs

Being an independent teacher means you actually have two jobs. The "independent" part means that you are also an entrepreneur, which is a job onto itself.

And so to succeed you'll have to do a little more than just teach. In the past, maybe the school or gym handled class pricing, collecting money, marketing and promotions, passes and memberships, insurance, liability... and now this is all on your plate.

If you're new to all this, we don't want to lie to you: running a business by yourself isn't all roses all the time.

Sometimes it's hard, and there will be plenty of ups and downs. Some of this business stuff may not always be as fun as the actual teaching.

But it's really not that difficult once you have the right mindset.

The teacherpreneur mindset

Here are some basic ideas to get you into that mindset and help you feel empowered:

1) You have a teaching business

The most important idea to come to grips with, as an independent teacher, is simply what we just talked about: you should accept the fact that you are an entrepreneur who's running a business.

Once you do that, the whole world will be a completely different place — because entrepreneurs all wear some special eye glasses. Magic glasses they can't remove.  

Everywhere they look, entrepreneurs see opportunities.

Entrepreneurs see opportunities everywhere

For example: say you're a yoga teacher who has an entrepreneurial mindset. Imagine you're riding on a bus... so as it drives past a park with a nice flat field, you think to yourself: “Hmmm, that field can probably handle forty people easily, I could run classes there in the summer”.

And then, just a few blocks later, your bus passes an assisted living center for seniors... and you think to yourself: “Maybe they would love someone to run yoga classes for seniors in their center?” You write down the name and plan to get in touch with the managers the next day.

There are literally infinite opportunities out there, and of course every teacher is different and doing different things.

The important takeaway here is that if you see yourself as an entrepreneur, opportunities will present themselves to you naturally, and that will help you tremendously in all sorts of ways.

You'll have ideas for new kinds of classes you can teach, for new ways to get the word out and do your marketing, and you'll be on the lookout for openings or possibilities to specialize or adapt your teaching to respond to a new kind of demand or situation. It will happen almost as if by magic.

So don't just accept it, but embrace it: you are a teacherpreneur.

2) Money isn't bad

The second idea that you'll want to get comfortable with is that money is not a bad thing. If you already believe this, well, great!

But a surprising number of teachers feel that earning good money with their teaching is somehow wrong.

Of course you don't do what you do for the money. It's about pursuing your passion, wanting to help people, and maybe you also like the idea of being independent. But true independence also means that you have to be able to eat and pay the rent.

More than that: if your teaching is to be sustainable, then valuing what you do and properly getting paid for it isn't just about the money. It's also really important for your own happiness and sense of self-worth.

If making tons of money isn't really part of your dream, and you'd just be happy to have a business where you can make ends meet and maybe save a little for a rainy day, that's perfectly fine.

But your teaching will have to be rewarding for you, and that also includes the financial aspects. Otherwise, you'll burn out or give up.

Now since you're running a business, by definition your revenue has to be greater than your expenses. You need to keep this in mind when you invest in tools or when you price your classes, for example.

On the other hand, if you don't have any problem with making money, then getting this part of the mindset will be really easy for you. And in that case, you'll be happy to hear that as a teacher entrepreneur, your earning potential is only limited by your imagination. It's definitely bigger than what you could ever achieve while working for someone else!

Because when you are running the show, then what's in the show, how big the show is, really everything about it: it's all up to you!

3) Doubts and fears are normal

There are some doubts and fears that everyone struggles with. It's kind of universal. It's normal.

But in the context of being a teacherpreneur, we really need to work to overcome these hurdles of the mind.

That's because all entrepreneurs are "doers". And to be able to do things often means that we have to overcome doubts and fears.

The first one of these is what is called <span style="color: #E44868;"><strong>"impostor syndrome"</strong></span>. It's a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

Everyone experiences imposter syndrome

You probably suffered from this when you just started teaching. That first class was pretty scary, wasn't it?

But it got easier, right? So you already know that with practice and with a bit of experience, this horrible feeling of not being good enough goes away.

It's the same with running your teaching business and being an entrepreneur.

Everyone has impostor syndrome to some extent, it's totally normal. Especially in the beginning! Even the top executives in very big companies struggle with it.

So, how to overcome imposter syndrome?

Simply accept it, and just do what you have to do. Impostor syndrome will diminish and maybe even disappear altogether, if you're lucky. But most likely, you'll just live with it and it will play a very tiny part in your day to day thinking.

Another big obstacle when it comes to doing anything is found in <span style="color: #E44868;"><strong>comparison</strong></span>.

Ever heard the expression "Comparison is the thief of joy"? In the age of social media, this has never been more true.

Comparing yourself to others rarely helps

If you compare yourself with another teacher who maybe has a huge following, tons of money, years of experience... you can get pretty discouraged.

It can make you feel that what you're doing isn't good enough and that you'll never succeed... leading right back into impostor syndrome!

But remember one thing: everyone started out small, with no clients and no money.

Getting some inspiration and ideas from other teachers can be a very nice thing — but putting yourself down because you're comparing yourself to someone else is not just unhelpful, it's downright silly.

Everyone is different, teaching different things for different reasons and in different ways, and coming from completely different backgrounds.

Our advice: focus on yourself and what you have. Grow at your own pace, and be sure to celebrate your successes along the way.

Now if we did indulge in a little comparison, we would notice that actually the most successful entrepreneurs out there don't do what their competition does, and they don't compare themselves to others very much.

Instead, they simply focus on themselves and their own business, which makes it much easier for them to take action.

So forget about comparing yourself with others, and just do what feels like the right thing to do for yourself.

OK, the final pitfall to watch out for has to do with <span style="color: #E44868;"><strong>perfection</strong></span>.

Voltaire coined the phrase "perfection is the enemy of the good". That's absolutely true.

Going for perfection may stop you from ever getting started
"Perfection is the enemy of the good" ~ Voltaire

When you start a project and try to make it perfect in every possible way, it will be almost impossible to get it done.

Overthinking things can even lead to such paralysis that you never actually get started!

Or maybe you do get started... but the thing is never fully done or completed.

So you should aim for things to be good, but not perfect.  

The real danger about perfection isn't actually about not getting anything done... it's about spending too much time and energy on things that could turn out to be pretty unimportant.

As an entrepreneur, you'll try lots of different things where you won't know beforehand if they'll actually work. In fact, most of the new things you try probably won't work, at least in the way you had hoped or expected. So making your attempt perfect can turn out to be a waste of time.

For example, let's say your marketing plan has you putting up flyers, or setting up an Instagram page to attract new clients — you could totally overthink these things.

For your flyer, you could hire a graphic artist to help, and agonize over every word of text, and maybe take 20 hours to come up with the final design.

On Instagram, you could obsess over the fine details of every post you create there, to the point of spending hours every day... only to find after it's all said and done that nobody cared. That you didn't get a single new client out of these two efforts. Could easily happen!

So trying to be perfect with everything you do can really hurt your business, because you could actually do so much more if you just aimed for 'good', not 'perfect'.

Of course good means actually good, not sloppy. Good means "good enough".

Just do it

Our number one piece of advice about entrepreneurship in general, and being a teacherpreneur in particular, if it could be condensed into just one single tip: just do it. Get going. Everything is made easier simply by doing.

Got it? You got this! Now go out there and make it happen!

BTW, this content is part of Ubindi's basic business course for teachers. If you'd like free access to that, just jump on the chat and we'll share a free access code with you.


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