One Month Blogging Challenge – Day 19 (Why and How I started my business)

If you don’t know much about I was doing for work before I came home to take care of myself in order to treat my depression and anxiety, that’s perfectly okay. I plan on starting by telling you what kind of business I was running and how it worked.

I’ve been teaching English, Portuguese as a second language and preparing high school students for their final Portuguese, English and History exams since November 2012.

When/how did I start?

It all started because my sister mentioned that one of her classmates was having trouble with her English and failing the class. I offered to help and told my sister to tell her I was going to do it for a very low price. Since I have nothing to hide, I will tell about values and earning as well. I know some people think it’s not polite to talk about money but I have no issues with the topic at all. So I started by being this girl’s English tutor for 5€ per hour. A tutor normally charges over 10, sometimes 15€. So I was a low-cost tutor.

Time passed and I decided I could turn it into a part-time job, while I was in college. I put an ad in a Portuguese add website and some people came asking for classes. Not tutoring (which is help with school) but actual private lessons, where I would teach them English. Most of them were new to the language or knew very little. I kept the same price, even though the work changed. I was no longer tutoring, I was actually teaching. People started coming and I was having more and more work. I never refused any students, so I had a big group (each of them taking private classes) of people in all kinds of situations, ages (mostly adults) and backgrounds. I was becoming better at it with each lesson and more people kept coming. I

would go to people’s homes or offices and I would go around the city all day, moving from one student to the other, with just enough time to take public transportation. I would sometimes go to places that were over an hour away, always by bus or metro, carrying a bunch of books, dictionaries, grammars, and all the materials you can think of. Students would come and go, some would stay for months, other’s for years.

I started to get people who were coming because their friends had recommended me. I got to a point where about 50% of my students were coming from recommendations. My students would say I was the best and that they had never had such a good teacher and learned English so easily before. More people would come, both through my add and from recommendations. I had my hands full. I decided to increase the price to 7,50€ per hour and I still had a large group of students. Before I came home, I was already charging 8,50€ an hour, still low-cost.

How did Portuguese exam preparation come into the picture?

Portuguese was one of my favorite subjects in school. I had read all of the mandatory books and I was good at interpreting them, I could write without spelling mistakes and with impeccable grammar. Exam season was coming and I though I might try to get some students to prepare. I placed and add and found many people who needed help. I would revise all of the materials with them, assign homework, teach them how to write better, how to express themselves in a better way and how they should answer exam questions. The best feeling ever is when you help a student and they pass the exam and get into college. This was in 2013 and I’ve been doing it ever since, getting exam preparation students between March and July, usually. It’s an extremely busy season for me, because I get extra students, along with my usual English crowd. I’m actually kind of sad I’m not doing exam prep this year. I really miss it. Same thing happened with History. I was really good in History and students would come asking for help with History exams and I wouldn’t say no, so it became one of the subjects I work with.

What about Portuguese as a second language?

One day, a few years ago, an English man asked me if I taught Portuguese as well. I said I had never done it but we could certainly try. I bought the materials and taught him for a few months. I discovered it was really easy, being my native language, and students being in a very low-level. I decided to place an ad and, once again, I got some students for Portuguese. It’s amazing because I have worked with people from Chile, England, Italy, France, Japan, Germany. Just like that, I became a Portuguese teacher as well.

When/why did I get an office?

I was getting tired of all the moving around, carrying a lot of weight, in the heat, in the sun, in the rain, in the cold, waiting endless hours for transport and having to care my lunch, an umbrella, a coat, my bag, my work bag, book bags and whatever I needed for the day. I decided to look for an office and talked to a lady I had worked for (she had a tutoring center) and ask her if she had any rooms available to rent. She said she had one and I went to see it. I was a little unsure if I wanted to start paying rent. My business would, from that point on, cost me 200€ a month. That was a lot of money. But I would get my own room, where I could keep my things, where students would meet me and where I could have a coffee machine and a microwave. The room was tiny and the window did not open, but I had air conditioning. I decided to take it and that’s how, in February, 2015, I got my first office. I was there for a few months and, for several reasons, including the fact that I needed more space, I decided to move to a bigger space. It cost more, but it was big and beautiful. I was going to pay a big rent, about 320€ per month, but it was worth it. I got the room and was there until last March, when I decided I was going to put my business on hold, because I was home. Paying rent didn’t make sense if I was not using the room and so I packed and closed everything. I’m currently not working and I have no office.

What kind of teacher am I?

Students usually like me and have very nice things to say about me, which makes me happy and proud. I’m extremely patient and I have no problem in explaining you the same thing 50 times, until you finally get it. I’m always kind and do my best to motivate students, never saying anything negative and giving honest feedback but always focusing on being kind and respectful. I do my best to make them see that they can do it, that they are able to learn. I’m usually successful. Overall, I know I’m a very good teacher. I have been told so and I have had many teacher in my life to compare myself to. I never say I’m very good at something unless I’m sure of it. This is the case. It’s one of the few things I know I do very well.

Where is my business going?

I’m not sure I want to go back to it. For several reasons. The hours are super long and there’s always something to do. Along with lessons, you always need to prepare materials, organize schedules, take care of payments and receipts, things I was doing all by myself. The responsibility was 100% mine and that can be extremely tiring and stressful. I don’t know if I can’t take it at this point of my life. I have some students interested in doing online classes. I might do it as I wouldn’t need to leave home or pay for an office. I’m thinking about starting these classes in June. I have enough people interested to get a decent salary without working full-time. This is my plan for now.

 

Thank you so much for reading!

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58 thoughts on “One Month Blogging Challenge – Day 19 (Why and How I started my business)

  1. comfykittea says:

    This was a very interesting read! Teaching languages was always something I had in my mind…but I never had your courage. Acutally, I taught Portuguese to a group of people at a company for almost a year, it was a lot of fun 🙂
    Then this job ended and so ended my teaching adventures ;D
    I’m so sad that my Portuguese is slipping from me…could I ask you to recommend a couple of books written by Portuguese authors? I will see if I can get them here…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. oldhouseintheshires says:

    I love this post Cheila! I don’t think though that people realise how life consuming teaching can be. I love being a teacher but every pupil becomes like your own child that needs nurturing! I work part time and it works for me. I’m sure that you will find this too. Don’t forget that good teachers WILL be asked to do more and more but you need to learn to say no if it gets too much….something that I have had to learn. Good luck my lovely. X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hannah says:

    Tutoring is something I’ve thought about getting myself into when I finish uni. When I was doing my A levels I really struggled with chemistry so my parents ended up getting me a tutor for chemistry. I now think that maybe when I go home I might advertise myself somehow for biology tuition. I mean I’ll have to relearn an awful lot of the stuff I did in the past but I think it would be good fun

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lee says:

    Wow that’s amazing Cheila! You should definitely start it up again if you ever get free time and the mood for it. Sounds like you helped a lot of people and they probably miss your classes sometimes. I only had my little business for about a year before I took a break. I haven’t gone back yet but I think the baby shower corsage was the start of maybe slowly getting back to it. I think a 2nd time around will be much better than the first now that I know a bit more. But I still have a lot to learn about business

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shweta Suresh says:

    Loved reading that. Amazing to know that you’re achieved so much at a young age. Starting online classes seems like a great idea. Explaining stuff to people can be a difficult job. I know I’m not at all good at it! Take care, Cheila and all the best for your future endeavors! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eccentric Muse says:

    Thank you for sharing and you’re a great teacher. I know who to call up if I ever pick up Portuguese! The online classes sound terrific! All the best, girl! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Porter says:

    I wish to express my love for your kind-heartedness in support of those who absolutely need guidance on the issue. Your very own commitment to passing the message across became astonishingly important and have really encouraged associates much like me to get to their objectives. Your important instruction indicates a great deal to me and still more to my mates. Thanks a lot; from all of us.

    Like

  8. EJediting says:

    It is amazing how time, perseverance, and just doing a great job can jumpstart a business. I have been a teacher for a long time….:-) I know you have felt good knowing you have helped so many people.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. fauzanmokhtar says:

    Great story Cheila! I really like the way you shared your train of thought into deciding to rent a space – taking everything into consideration before making a decision is what makes a good entrepreneur.

    Also, I understand how difficult it is to be running a business on your own – I’ve had my fair share of being a solo-preneur at a time. It takes serious mental toughness to go through it all. Nonetheless, I switched up the gameplay by simply finding another partner to run the business with. It is difficult to find the right partner for you – but it also makes your job of running the business easier and less-lonely too.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to be the Mr Know It All here, just thought to throw a suggestion to help out. Let us know how it worked then 🙂

    Like

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