US $2.3 billion. That’s the amount that investors have ploughed into the education sector (i.e. edtech) since 2010. Yet, it still seems that most teachers are grossly underpaid. Why is this? And how can a teacher make more money?
Meet Shane and Jocelyn…
Shane and Jocelyn were in the school system in their early thirties, with two young kids, stuck in a rigid teaching schedule with a limited income. They wanted next steps that would lead them to a more profitable and flexible lifestyle. They researched solutions to the common question: “how can teacher make more money”?
Eventually, they found entrepreneurship to be their passion, and they started their business Elementary Librarian Community, an online membership-based community with lesson plans and other teaching resources. Although it took a lot of hard work, learning curves, and frustrating experiences, they remained determined.
Now Jocelyn and Shane work a 10-hour work week, averaging around $50,000 per month. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
How did Jocelyn and Shane get to be so successful? What’s their “secret sauce?” How can a teacher make money as an entrepreneur, like this couple was ere able to?
From an outsider’s point of view, I could simply attribute this to the notion that teachers have a pretty easy schedule. After all, they have weekends, evenings, and summers off. Therefore they have plenty of time to work on a side hustle.
Let’s factor in the papers they have to grade, the extra hours of tutoring, and the lesson plans they come up with. Not that much free time now, is it?
So, how can a teacher make more money with little to no free time? By using their entrepreneurial skills! There are basic, but often overlooked, qualities and attributes of the teaching profession that lend themselves to an entrepreneur-mindset.
So why do teachers make great entrepreneurs?
“Ambition is the path to success, persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” – Bill Bradley, author
We can all recount how our teachers worked hard to ensure that we grasped most, if not all, concepts they taught. They did whatever it took – giving extra tuition, one on one tutoring etc. Some even bought us the materials we required (sometimes even using money out of their own pocket).
This level of persistence is ideal in entrepreneurship.
As you venture out on your own, persistence has to be in your DNA. You ought to have the capability to keep on “keeping on” even when the going gets tough. You need the mental strength to take that extra step, when everybody says you can’t.
Teachers develop consistent persistence in the classroom. How else can you teach a 12 year old, who would rather be playing Angry Birds, to understand sentence structure in an English lesson?
Teachers develop persistence in the classroom. This can help them become great entrepreneurs. @ateacherpreneur
To be effective as a teacher, you need to be sharp. Teachers are quick at perceiving things going on in their classroom, like a disinterested or frustrated student or acknowledging when to stop and change pace during a lesson.
Knowing when something isn’t working, when to pivot, or when it’s time for a major overhaul is a crucial part of entrepreneurship.
Winston Churchill put it best when he said,
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
Take the social media platform Twitter as a case study of the advantages of efficient pivoting. Initially branded Odeo, it was a network where people could find and subscribe to podcasts. After iTunes took over the podcast niche, Twitter decided to change to a status-update microblogging platform. Now they have 317 million monthly, active users.
Need I say more?
The ability to pivot relies on someone’s ability to perceive current states and future changes, a natural instinct cultivated in the classroom and why teachers make great entrepreneurs.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” ~ Winston Churchill @ateacherpreneur
“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy
Ever tried pitching an idea to venture capitalists? Or something simpler- ever tried selling something? The trick to selling is excellent communication. From the onset, you need to grasp their attention… and then keep it all the way through until the end of the pitch.
In their 40 minute lessons, teachers have managed to perfect this art. Try getting your own child interested in something he or she doesn’t want to do, then get back to me. Teachers are able to do this over and over again, every day, with every student.
Teachers learn the value of communication, engagement, and “cliffhangers,” which prepares them for the entrepreneur’s life. This means selling and pitching an idea for a business can come more naturally. With this, what’s to stop them?
Related reading: A Lesson on Pre Selling a Product to Your Audience
Teachers make roughly 1500 decisions in one school day. Imagine that! The ability to think on your feet quickly and effectively 1500 times a day!
When determining how a teacher can make more money, it’s important to think what kind of skills they already have. Their ability to make decisions and multitask comes in handy when they go into entrepreneurship. They can be able to hold down a job a still work on their side hustle.
They can handle all of the tasks and startup decisions that come their way. They can play different roles in the business: financial officer, COO (chief operations officer), CEO (chief executive officer), and 1-person sales team — all at the same time!
In the initial stages, the entrepreneur has to play all these roles in the company, so the ability to wear different hats is crucial and that’s another reason why teachers can become great entrepreneurs. They’re already familiar with wearing multiple hats: from disciplinarian to nutritionist, class nurse to tutor, advisor to friend.
Teachers make roughly 1500 decisions in one school day. So making daily business decisions isn’t that big a stretch. @ateacherpreneur
Leading is all a matter of being able to influence and motivate others. The key lies in how others perceive you.
In the school environment, teachers are required to establish a standard of excellence, deliver timely results, nurture relationships with their students, resolve conflicts effectively, and promote cooperation amongst the students, parents, and faculty.
These are all characteristics and requirements of a great leader.
It’s evident that the school environment instills qualities in teachers that give them an edge in the entrepreneurship environment. Do you have these entrepreneurial qualities? How can a teacher make more money… and how can you make more money using these types of skills?
Go ahead and write down some ideas now on how you might be able to make money. Let us know in the comments below, and share with your teacher-friends!
If you’d like to surround yourself with an intermediate to advanced community for teacherpreneurs, including some of the teachers mentioned in this blog post, join the Teacherpreneur Academy Facebook Group to take your Education Business to the next level.