How to (Not) Grow an ELT Business

As opportunities for talented ESOL teachers increase, more and more language teachers are setting up their own ELT businesses and going solo.

This post celebrates 4 years of Blue Noun Language Hub by sharing my best advice for growing a healthy ELT business.

(Yes, it’s our business-birthday!)

Blue Noun Language Hub - an alternative Language school - celebrating 4 years
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Know your Business Values

We aim for transparency throughout our business. This is one of the 10 business values we have as a list.

Don’t write such a list and forget about it. Use the list as your guide through any tricky situation, and use it for inspiration. 

As part of our quest for transparency,  in this blog, I want to give a big shout-out to just some of the amazing people who helped us over the last 4 years. 

I hope this is useful to other English teachers.

More generally, even just recognising that you will need help and other people’s expertise is a win.

Remember, free stuff only gets you so far.

If it’s good, it’s worth paying for.

Just like your English teaching!


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All About the Woo-Woo

This blog is for all language teachers: the so-called ‘teacher-preneurs.’ 

Hopefully, it should help you avoid the fairly obvious mistakes which I walked headlong into.

I have made every single mistake I mention here. It’s ok, you are going to make your own mistakes too. It’s unavoidable. What matters is quickly learning from them. 

It will also show you the business advice and support I sought, in the hope that you can grow your ELT business in a quicker, healthier way.

But before we crack on with the main content of this blog – the people who have helped me with business skills to grow an ELT business, I wish to point out that business skills and mindset are interlinked and must be worked on in tandem.

I’ll give you my best mindset tips here too.

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Our Opportunities for English Teachers

Before sharing my best tips for self-employed English teachers, I want to let you know about a couple of opportunities that we have at Blue Noun Language Hub for Online English Teachers.

  • Firstly, if you are good, we want to recommend you to our network as part of our Online English Needs Analysis Service.

  • Secondly, we have opportunities for English teachers to get paid to tell your students about our holidays.

You can find out about both these opportunities here.

Maybe I can become part of YOUR business story one day. (I would love to).

ESOL English Teacher Support

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Stronger Together

Blue Noun are keen to help independent online English teachers with resources & networks.

Not only do we recommend your online services to clients we can’t help ourselves – but you can also be an affiliate for our English language immersion holidays and earn £££.

I am an ESL English Teacher

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Tip #01 Accept that You Can’t Do Everything at Once

Instead of trying to do everything (5 + social media accounts, blogs, articles, ads) design the right strategies for the place in business you are at.

For example, you probably can’t fill workshops if you haven’t worked 1:1 with clients.

Your audience will not be ready to buy big-ticket items if you haven’t warmed them first.

Starting small doesn’t mean staying small, but it can mean not burning out. 

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Tip #02 | Your Health is Your Business’s Biggest Asset

Remember to schedule in quality time off with friends, and any other things which keep you healthy – eating well, relaxing etc.

Prioritise what you need to do – and leave what you DON’T need to do (I like urgent, not urgent, important, not important list making). 

Delegate whenever you can.

Recognise and reward small wins – even if sales aren’t great or a launch flops, celebrate trying. Celebrate showing up in the way you want to. (Your brain loves celebrating).

Articulate stuff like this out loud or in a journal. This feeds positive reinforcement messages into your brain (imagine running a business on a brain which has only been told negative things about you). 

Believe in your worth.

Charge for the transformation you bring.

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Tip #03 | You Also Need a Transformation!

You can’t be good enough at everything already.

Lean into it. Accept and get ready to learn.

I had to learn that needing to learn certain skills is not the same thing as being ‘bad at something’.

For years, I told myself I was ‘bad at sales’ and that held me back from taking risks.

Sales skills I continue to work on – but without negative self-thoughts and with less fear.


So often our greatest fears are the gatekeepers to our greatest gifts. And if you pause a moment to feel into that, what comes up for you?

What are the things that shake you up? The things that make you shrink and be small, run away or hide? I believe that if you can summon the bravery to look into the aspects of yourself that lie in the darkest places, there will be light there waiting for you.”

Rebecca Campbell, website

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Tip #04 | Be Your Own Champion

Running your own ESOL business could feel like committing to constantly learning what you don’t know, and upskilling yourself with the knowledge you need.

You need to find balance with this because it may never feel enough. It’s hard to switch off when there is always going to be more and urgent information to learn.

Do spend time reminding yourself who you are, and how much you already know.

Your skills are wonderful. Your business is your way of sharing your unique magic with the world – don’t be too busy focusing on new business skills to shine brightly in the best way you can NOW.

Don’t just chart future business plans. Keep track of what you are achieving, who you are helping and what new knowledge you learn.

Keep a list of words (or a vision board) which represent you at your best.

5 Online Coaches Who Helped Us Grow

Business Coach for Language Teachers

Business coaching for teachers - Ola Kowalska

Ola Kowalska 

Ola helps language teachers build sustainable, profitable and fun businesses through courses and coaching! Her enthusiasm is infectious and her kindness an honesty attracted me to her network. 

Visit Site

Business coach for freelance ELT professionals.

Rachael Roberts ELT business coaching

Rachael Roberts | Earn Learn Thrive 

Rachael offers business and mindset coaching for ELT freelance professionals.

She offers a great value membership called Earn, Learn, Thrive. It’s useful for every business stage – but absolutely brilliant for anyone in their first few years of business. 

Visit Site

Linkedin Training & Business Coaching

Helen Tudor Linkedin training (live with wine)

Helen Tudor  | Linkedin Mastermind Programme

Take Helen’s free 5-day challenge to start attracting leads on Linkedin.

If you love it, there’s a membership to join – but you can get LOADS of great tips from the free challenge alone. 

Visit Site

Sales Training

Nicola Lutz Sales for Language schools and agents

Nicola Lutz  | No Fluff Sales Coaching

Nicola’s No Fluff Skills training helps schools and agents enrol more international students, more efficiently.

Not for beginners – but for language schools & businesses ready to grow. 

Visit Site


Dr Hannah Gibson - copywriter

Dr Hannah Gibson | Copywriting

Paying someone else to write your copy is a great idea – when you can afford it.

Until then, Hannah has developed a system that combines the art and science behind copywriting – and teaches you how to make your copy compelling.

If you are investing in a website (you don’t need to) Hannah can help you do it yourself.


Visit Site

Keep on track:

What does your soul love? What are your values? 


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Tip #05 | It’s all Scalable

I hope that this blog has shed a bit of light on the many varied skills you need.

My final piece of advice is to really think of your business as scalable.

The mistake we made was trying to do everything at once – and all the time.

I’m an artist and I think big. That’s in my creative training, personality and upbringing.

But thinking of your business as being scalable will be more manageable, and help you get good systems in place right from the start.

Now, get out there and make a true difference in your clients’ lives!

(And if you’ve liked this blog – make sure you get signed up on the ESOL teaching support link above).

A huge thank you to everyone featured on this page!