Are you an educator or an entrepreneur? As IECs, we face this question daily. While most of us enter the field of college counseling because we want to make an impact, we still need to make enough money to live and achieve our personal goals (like sending our own children to college). So how do you balance being a "do-gooder" with making a profit?
That is where the term "eduprenuer" comes in. Educators and entrepreneurs share a similar mindset and skillset. They are both:
Creative problem-solvers who can create solutions specific to a group or person. IECs create a personalized plan for each student, and most of the time, it involves thinking outside the box to help the student reach their educational goals.
Excellent multi-taskers. Research shows that teachers make over 1000 decisions a day. Think about how many you make as an eduprenuer; decisions about your business, clients, calendar, what to write in an email, the list is endless.
Effective communicators. Communication is critical to a successful IEC business. We communicate information about colleges, standardized testing, the likelihood of a student's acceptance, etc. And we do all of this in a way that educates our clients and makes them willing to continue working with us, even when we tell them what they don't want to hear.
Careful planners, but also able to adapt. Have you ever created a college list and had a student completely change their mind? The ability to pivot is central to being a successful eduprenuer.
Students who believe in continual learning. Reading articles, attending conferences and webinars, and visiting colleges, IECs are always learning something new.
Change-makers who want to make an impact. While IECs struggle to create change in the overall admissions process, we certainly impact our clients by teaching them essential skills and providing the information they need to make well-informed decisions.
Relationship builders. Relationships are so important to education and entrepreneurship. It is how a teacher builds a classroom community and how entrepreneurs obtain customers. As IECs, we recognize that the relationships we build with students and their families are one of the best parts of the job.
So now that you know you are an educator and an entrepreneur, let's talk about how that translates into pricing. Outside of the basic recommendations for determining your price (looking at your cost, competition, and customers), here are 5 pricing strategies to consider as an eduprenuer.
Separate you from your pricing. As a service-based business, separating yourself from your pricing is complicated since your expertise, personality, and approach are the product. I have always heard "charge what you are worth," but I have learned there is so much more to it. I don't increase my price every time I attend a new professional development event or visit a college. Yes, my experience grows, but getting into the nitty gritty of "worth" is only one piece. So many other factors go into pricing (going back to cost, competition, and customers) that putting too much of your value into the thought process can be detrimental to a solid eduprenuer pricing strategy.
Develop flexible pricing. Many eduprenuers will offer a sliding scale or "pay what you can" pricing, which is a great way to reach different socio-economic groups. However, how do you know if a client needs a discount? Some IECs will ask clients to calculate their EFC or Student Aid Index for the new FAFSA. Remember, it is easier to offer a discount when you are already charging more than you need to make a profit (this is where it is essential to know your cost and expenses).
Expand your offerings. Another way to increase access to college counseling and think like an eduprenuer is to expand your offerings. Many IECs offer group workshops (online or in-person) at a lower pricing point or develop tiered packages that meet the needs of different clients. You can also create customized packages by asking clients the top 3 services they need. Expanding your offerings can impact more students while still considering your profit.
Recognize how much information you share for free. Let's face it, we all share information for free. Whether you write a blog, offer free webinars, give a presentation at a high school, or answer specific questions in a potential client meeting, we all share our expertise without attaching a price to it. Remember that sharing information increases access to college counseling, contributing to your overall goal of making an impact.
Know your mission. Why did you become an IEC? Returning to the goals that led you to this profession is essential to developing your mindset about pricing. Who do you want to help? How do you define success in your business?
Pricing is a way of recovering value for your service, but think about what that value is for you. Is it all monetary and about your net profit? Is there some value in making a difference or building a relationship? Recognizing how you define value will help you balance being an educator and an entrepreneur. In my experience, many IECs will think or describe themselves as educators, but most won't describe themselves as entrepreneurs. Hopefully, you will now consider yourself a combination of the two. Some days you may be more of an educator and others more of an entrepreneur but recognizing that there is a need to be both is the best way to develop a solid eduprenuer pricing strategy.