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12 Hot Business Ideas

So you know you want to start a business, but you're not sure what kind of business to start? We've made your decision easier by spotlighting 12 of today's hottest business ideas.

Children's Education & Tutoring
Teach the children well, and you could do pretty well, too.

Colleges keep getting more competitive, and parents want to give their children every possible edge--even in preschool. Add to that the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires schools to provide tutoring services if their programs don't meet performance standards for two consecutive years, and you have a solid market for education and tutoring. According to data from Eduventures LLC, an educational market research and consulting firm in Boston, the total market for products and services, including tutoring, test-preparation services and supplemental content, for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade grew 6 percent in the 2004-2005 school year to $21.9 billion.

Online tutoring, a $115 million market, is one of the hottest areas, especially with high school and middle school students, notes Tim Wiley, a senior analyst for K-12 solutions at Eduventures. Selling tutoring services to schools is also sizzling, though Wiley says entrepreneurs pursuing businesses in this arena should be prepared to meet all the local, regional and state school requirements. For grades three through eight, reading and math tutoring are always in high demand, but look to science tutoring as a growth area in the next few years. Preschool education, too, is expected to grow rapidly, says Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey--especially as more states mandate preschool for all children.

Carving out a niche in this market is Marc Stelzer, 41, co-founder of the Learning Breakthrough Program in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. His developmental and learning training program helps children ages 6 and up with academic, cognitive and even motor skills. Marketing the product online at www.learningbreakthrough.comand through therapists and professional associations, Stelzer saw sales of $400,000 in 2006, his first year of business.

Thinking of jumping into a kids' education and tutoring business? Here are some tips for starting up.

Buy materials sparingly at first. You may be excited about starting a tutoring business, but don't clean out the teacher supply store on your first visit, says Kim McLapp of CleverApple.com, an information resource for tutoring businesses. You likely already have much of what you need-a computer with internet access and a decent printer. Plus, a variety of teaching materials and lesson plans can be found cheaply online or at your local library. Wait until you book your first clients to purchase the grade- and subject-specific materials you might need.

Organize your policies. Determine your pricing and makeup policies upfront, advises McLapp. Make sure they're written out and clear to the parents and students. She suggests getting payment in advance for the week, and implementing a "no-show" policy with makeup sessions available, for example, on only one Saturday of the month, "so you don't have people canceling on you all the time."

Market where the parents are. Network with your local school districts, either to sell your tutoring services to them directly or to have them refer parents to your company. Advertisements in local parent publications or a flier in the local library can also help get the word out about your company, says McLapp.

Start locally. Find out your community's requirements and regulations regarding tutoring services, notes Wiley. When providing tutoring services directly to school districts, there are a lot of variables to consider--especially as local values and politics determine the direction of this market.

Be careful with your money. Schools often pay on a 90-day delay, so make sure you have enough working capital to survive that cash-flow crunch.

Children's Education:

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This article was originally published in the February 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: 12 Hot Ideas.

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