The Challenges of Starting a TEFL Business – An Interview
In this blog, we often talk about turning your TEFL qualification into an effective way of making money.
This has become a tangible plan, especially since schools and companies, in general, have started to trust work from home and online teaching on a large scale.
Thanks to our community of members of the TEFL industry who share their experiences, we are teaching, and learning, how to make the most out of the challenging Corona Virus experience of 2020 with a realistic approach: it’s not about becoming all millionaires, but having a job or an activity that we like, and produces enough money to keep our positive attitude.
For example, unlike the past, now we can work at the same time for many companies, and we are no longer tied to a single school.
That means that, as teachers, we have to develop our entrepreneurial skills to find new opportunities that weren’t available before the Covid-19 pandemic.
You might have heard that there is not a lot of money into teaching, and this might have been partly true until the recent past, but now there are many opportunities for the ones who have a sharp eye for business.
Now is the time for us EFL teachers to dream big, and then work (hard) on our project.
Now that we are motivated, we have to act.
If we want to be successful, we have to be prepared to fail at a certain point, because failure is part of the game, and while success is not always guaranteed, failure is.
Nowadays you can google all the answers if you want to know The 10 Challenges Of Opening Your Own Business, but does it motivate you to follow your dreams?
I usually find inspiration in reading biographies and listening to real-life stories of other people.
When we are successful, we look back, and everything seems like an exotic pirates adventure, but when things happen, we can just focus on surviving the storm.
Last year I interviewed Lucy Fogarty, founder and CEO of Culture Buff Games, who turned her passion for teaching into an original and unique business (you find the article Teach British & American Culture with Interactive Cartoon Games here).
What I like about this company is that they focus not just on teaching English, but through their games, they promote an attitude that takes other cultures in great consideration.
Despite being a successful businesswoman, Lucy has certainly faced challenges during her career, since the moment she decided to start her own business, and she will continue to face them, with great ideas, a positive attitude and passionate work.
In my last interview with Lucy Fogarty, we focused on the teaching aspects of her activities.
I contacted her again, this time because I was interested in knowing more about her business, and with her story, get inspiration on How to become a successful entrepreneur in the TEFL industry.
Hopefully, this will be a call to action for all of us, to stop seeing ourselves just as people with a teaching qualification and more as entrepreneurs with a big idea and a licence to turn it into reality.
What inspired you to start Culture Buff Games?
Drawing on my experience as an intercultural trainer I was inspired to develop interactive games as I wanted to find a fun and engaging way to teach foreigners about country-specific cultural values. I discovered that cartoons were a great way to arouse curiosity and interest about a country. There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. By using cartoons, I found I was able to engage people and drive their participation in learning. Cartoons have a universal appeal and are a powerful educational tool. I decided to gamify the cartoons as the younger generation are digital natives and tend to gravitate towards experiences with game like concepts. The benefits of gamifications, include inducing a spirit of competition and boosting participation in learning. In a nutshell Culture Buff Games is a culture learning tool that leverages the power of cartoons and harnesses the power of play.
As an entrepreneur, when have you decided to turn your interest in culture into a business?
I had already worked for over 10 years as an intercultural trainer, conducting cultural training for adults and teens relocating to various countries. I was aware that a lot of the learning material in the intercultural field was dry, sterile and uninspiring. Learning has become gamified so I saw an opportunity to create country specific culture games.
What have been the struggles you faced when you started, and what have you done to succeed?
My company is self-funded. It takes a longer time to achieve results when utilizing your own resources as opposed to creating a product when you have raised money. However, I am a patient and resilient person. The benefit of self-funding is that you retain control and ownership.
What are the 3 most important things that teachers who want to start their own business should do?
You need a vision of how you will differentiate your product or service offering in your particular market. You will need a partner or partners in order to execute your vision. Given that there are many big players in the English language learning market you will probably need to raise money.
If you had an unlimited budget to develop your games, what would be the areas you would focus on to improve the teaching industry, and why?
I would roll out country-specific games for different cultures and develop game concepts for business cultures.
A language teacher or cultural trainer always needs innovative games to engage learners. This is particularly important with the shrinking attention spans of learners over the last few years. The global pandemic has led to a surge in virtual teaching and training which has created a demand for new games and tools. It is far more difficult for a teacher or trainer to engage a group virtually as opposed to eliciting learner engagement in a face to face classroom setting. Learning by playing games promotes practical application of knowledge. Problem solving and application of knowledge promotes accelerated learning.
I would like to thank Lucy Fogarty for her availability to share her life experience with our members and invite you all to check her website and try the services of Culture Buff Games.
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