Home alone: ​​how to open an online school for children

The boom in demand for online learning during the pandemic and forecasts for a three-fold growth of the market by 2023 suggest that online schools will be one of the most popular business niches in the coming year.

The outgoing year 2020 was marked by a real boom in online education in general, and in children’s education in particular. First of all, the pandemic influenced the surge of interest in online courses – an increasing number of parents are trying to reduce their children’s attendance at offline classes, and even those representatives of children’s educational schools who have not previously relied on this form of learning.

Nevertheless, the trend towards the transition of educational startups to the Internet was outlined even long before the global spread of COVID-19. Inexorable statistics say that as early as the end of 2019, as many online schools were opened in Russia as have appeared in the country over the past 10 (!) years.

That is, in any case, everything was moving towards transferring children’s courses and training programs to the network, and the pandemic only accelerated this process.

The prospects for the EdTech segment (as online education has come to be called by analogy with fintech) is also confirmed by the fact that the largest Russian corporations are also interested in online courses. For example, Mail.ru has been developing the Netology project for several years, and recently it became known that Yandex and Rostelecom are actively developing the Russian Zoom for Schoolchildren. 

However, there is room for entrepreneurs with much less investment opportunities to turn around – many representatives of small and medium-sized businesses at the turn of 2022 have an excellent opportunity to launch their project and successfully promote it in the wake of growing demand. So, what do you need in order to open your children’s online school and how can you build business processes step by step?

What niche to go

First you need to choose the direction in which you plan to develop online learning. Among the most sought-after niches in EdTech are foreign language courses and teaching programming to schoolchildren. Recently, the preparation of high school students for the Unified State Examination and admission to universities is also gaining popularity.

It is interesting that even in such a rather conservative initially segment as education, some entrepreneurs come up with non-standard tools that allow them to attract the attention of children and their parents to the project. One of the most effective examples is the gamification of the learning process, for example, the use of games popular among schoolchildren like Minecraft.

At the same time, many analysts predict that those representatives of online schools who can develop a clear system of grades (levels) designed for many years (and even decades) of education will enjoy the greatest success in the coming years. The ideal option is to form an ecosystem that will allow a child of primary school age to enter a digital school and train him to become a highly qualified specialist in a certain field in the future. That is, an increasing number of online schools will essentially compete not only with commercial projects, but also “play on the field” of state educational institutions.

Business registration

When opening a children’s online school, you will need to officially register the business. Many start educational Internet projects as an individual entrepreneur , at the start this is the best format if you yourself will be directly involved in the educational process. At the same time, the most common question that a novice entrepreneur has is what OKVED code should be indicated when registering your online school? 

It is important to understand that legally for the state, by and large, it does not matter whether you provide educational services online or do it offline (at least for now). Therefore, when registering an online school, the following code is quite suitable according to the classifier: 85.41.9 – additional education for children and adults, other, not included in other groups. This includes the following general education areas:

  • education that is not determined by the qualification level, academic education, training centers offering remedial courses, exam preparation courses, language training, computer courses
  • further education, as well as trainings and courses for various professions, hobbies and activities for personal growth
  • camps and schools providing instruction in the fields of sports for groups and individuals, instruction in the arts, drama or music, or other instruction or special education

An important point – according to Article 32 of the Federal Law “On Education in the Russian Federation”, an individual entrepreneur can implement only general educational programs from additional programs. 

Another frequently asked question is whether a license is required to open a children’s online school? In the case when an entrepreneur plans to conduct training on his own, you can do without receiving it. At the same time, he can work as an individual entrepreneur or be registered as self-employed . 

However, if third-party teachers are involved in the educational process, then, alas, there is no way to do without licensing activities. It does not matter whether you work as an individual entrepreneur or through an LLC – you will have to obtain the appropriate permission in any case. 

However, all this “works” often only on paper – many online schools are trying to use a loophole in the law and conclude contracts with students for information services and consulting. Formally, such an activity does not fall under the definition of education, which means that in theory it does not require licensing. However, we strongly recommend that you work “in the white” – this approach will avoid possible litigation and will give you the opportunity to calmly scale your business over time.

Obtaining a license for an online children’s school: step by step instructions

A complete list of regional bodies where you can apply for a license to study is on the official website of Rosobrnadzor, and the application procedure is quite simple and logical (you can use the State Services to apply). However, you will have to meet some requirements that apply to online schools when going through the licensing procedure:

  • Availability of premises . Until recently, legislation lagged behind the current realities and its placement under educational activities was mandatory even for those who worked only on the network. However, from January 1, 2021, a new Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated September 18, 2020 No. 1490 “On Licensing Educational Activities” comes into force, according to which online schools will finally be freed from the need to provide a conclusion on the compliance of premises and equipment with sanitary standards. 

This will greatly facilitate the procedure for obtaining a license for new entrepreneurs, since it will not only save you from the previously necessary expenses for renting premises, but also reduce the time for collecting documents.

However, since the new year, a new condition for online business has been added – now the entrepreneur will have to prove that his organization has all the necessary electronic information and educational environment to build quality education.

  • Availability of professional pedagogical education for hired teachers and work experience in the specialty.
  • You will need to submit your own educational program for approval , which must comply with the current requirements of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation.
  • A package of documents. And finally, you will need to collect a complete package of documents. Some of the entrepreneurs prepare it on their own, and some prefer to seek help from specialized consulting agencies. A correctly drawn up application for obtaining a license, a certificate, a copy of the Articles of Association in the case of an LLC and a certificate of registration, as well as proof of payment of the state fee are required.

At the same time, the received license will not have a validity period and will be automatically renewed every year.

Online School Staff

As a rule, many online schools offer their employees as piecework wages – the more academic hours are worked, the more their wages will be. At the start, when the number of children is still small, the option of part-time employment can be considered – for example, it is possible to attract existing teachers of state educational institutions to cooperation. In the future, you can recruit full-time employees under an employment contract with the following format – a fixed salary plus a bonus component (moreover, the KPI system can be tied not only to the number of hours worked, but also to evaluation and feedback from customers). To search for personnel, you can use popular online job search sites, such as hh.ru, rabota.ru and similar ones.

Marketing and sales

The main emphasis in attracting potential customers online children’s schools do on contextual advertising on the network. In order not to waste a large budget at the start due to inexperience, it is better to hire a directologist – a specialist who will take up setting up and running advertising campaigns.

Good results are shown by the active use of social networks – having your own account has become almost mandatory for any online school.

As alternative options for attracting customers, you can use partnership programs with schools and universities, through which up to a quarter of the leads of children’s online schools come.

Business Digitization

Many online schools use their own website as a business card – on the company’s page you can see the current tuition fees, learn more about the course schedule and get acquainted with the teaching staff. At the same time, adapting a site to a learning platform is a rather expensive pleasure, both in terms of time and financial resources. If you use it only as an information component, it is quite realistic to meet the budget of up to 10,000 rubles, or even use ready-made web-page templates on your own. 

The development of a website-based learning platform is much more expensive – developer rates start at 50,000 rubles and more, so we recommend using ready-made specialized platforms for online learning at the start. Fortunately, the choice in the vastness of Runet is now quite large. We list the most popular sites:

  • Stepik is a product of Russian developers that allows you not only to hold online conferences, but also to collect user analytics, receive payment for courses, and use a mobile application.
  • Teachbase is a case where you can try the platform itself (there is a free two-week trial period) to see if it suits your needs.
  • GetCourse is a platform with extensive functionality, which even includes the presence of CRM and the ability to launch an affiliate program to attract new users.
  • iSpring is suitable for those who need to store large volumes of educational materials in the “cloud” and makes it possible to gamify the educational process, which is extremely important for children’s courses and usually costs a lot of money in the case of “finishing” their own product by third-party IT developers.

Most ready-made platforms for conducting online courses make it possible to save on setting up your own payment system. In any case, do not forget Federal Law 54 , which obliges an entrepreneur to have an online cash register, provide checks to customers and submit relevant sales data to the tax office. The cost of buying an online cash register will be from 20,000 rubles.

Financial indicators

Among the advantages of a business in the field of children’s online education is the possibility of launching a project with a small investment. Of course, among large projects, it is not uncommon for six-figure sums to be invested in opening an online school, but most entrepreneurs at the start still prefer to start, limiting themselves to small investments.

The greatest costs will have to be incurred in the field of marketing and business digitization.

  • Launching a primary contextual advertising company on the network : 50,000 rubles (then the promotion budget can be reduced, since the so-called “word of mouth” will start working – students and their parents will recommend your online school to their friends and acquaintances, which will reduce the cost of forming new ones groups).
  • Website development : 10,000 rubles
  • Prepayment for using a ready-made platform for online learning : 10,000 rubles.
  • Setting up and promoting an account in social networks : 20,000 rubles, including the services of an Internet marketer
  • Costs for starting a business (800 rubles state duty for a license, plus state duty for opening an individual entrepreneur or LLC, as well as services of a consulting company if desired): up to 5,000 rubles.

In total, when opening a children’s online school at the initial stage, you can meet up to 100,000 rubles. 

Online school income

Now for the revenue. The analytics of Russian online education shows that the average amount of spending on children’s courses in the country is still less than on the education of the adult population. If for courses of adult users in 2020, on average, customers paid from 30,000 to 50,000 rubles, then for children’s training programs the average bill is less – about 15,000 rubles (an average of about 5 thousand rubles per month).

Teacher remuneration varies and averages around 40 percent of revenue. Thus, having formed at least 5 groups of 5-6 people with a monthly revenue of 30,000 rubles each, the entrepreneur will receive about 150,000 rubles a month.

Monthly expenses include the following items:

  • Payment of piecework wages to teachers – 60,000 rubles;
  • Online marketing costs – 20,000 rubles;
  • Tax: 9000 rub. (when an individual entrepreneur works on the simplified tax system according to the system of 6 percent of income). By the way, as an alternative to optimize the tax base, some have now begun to switch to the patent system – this is 20,000 – 30,000 rubles a year, depending on the region.

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