How To Start A School in 2024 Step-by-Step Guide

by | How to Start a School, Learning

How to Start a Private School

Are you a teacher who is interested in how to start a private school? Maybe you are a parent or religious group who feels your community needs more options.

If so, you are not alone.

As you are aware, teachers are leaving the field of education like wildfire. But many of them don’t want to quit teaching

Instead of abandoning their passion for teaching, some educators are discovering that they can still do what they love—teach—by starting their own schools and educational businesses. 

How do I know? Because I did just that, I started a small private school. I didn’t have a lot of money and no big names were backing me.

I discovered that I could still do what I love and, at the same time, avoid what I hated about the school system: bureaucracy, red tape, testing, and stress

It came as a total shock when thousands of people- teachers, and a few parents, found a Youtube video I did explaining how I started my own school

They couldn’t believe that a teacher, like them, with little funds and resources, started a school that was fully accredited.

Many of them also asked me if I could share with them how I started my own school.

In this article, I will do just that- step by step. 

I will share the exact things you will need to do in order to start your own school and put you in the BEST position to be successful. 

Most information on starting a school will say that it’s a lengthy, expensive, and complicated process. My experience was different. 

I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It is work! This will be an investment of your time, money, and faith. But it’s totally doable and I want to help you on your journey. 

If you have this limiting belief, put it to rest now. This doesn’t have to be a super expensive proposition, depending on your strategy and how you decide to scale.

I am going to take you step-by-step through what you have to do to start the process of starting a school. 

Please keep in mind, however, that some things will differ by state and you will have to do research on your own in those instances. 

Before you start, take the time to watch the video below. I want you to know why I am giving all this information away…for FREE and why I charge for some products.

Make no mistake about it—this isn’t some bait and switch. Following these steps will help you create the school business of your dreams and you DON’T have to buy anything.

Nevertheless, teachers and others who are ready to take action will eagerly invest because it will save them so much time. 

When you purchase any of my products, you are paying for convenience. 

I couldn’t dare charge for the process because I believe in this movement for every teacher who has been burned out by an unrealistic, outdated school system and for every child who has not benefited from the promise of “No Child Left Behind.”

As of October 2023, I’ve started updating this article. It should be complete by January 2024. Make sure you sign up for my emails. And if you have questions or feel like I need to address an area, please comment below.

In addition, this 12-step process that I’ve designed can be used by anyone who wants to open micro-schools, nonaccredited schools, learning pods, and even homeschools.

It will also help with online school programs. 

Just know that depending on what your vision is, some things may or may not need to be done.

This will be a very long article. So I’ve included the steps up front and each step is clickable so that you can find your place more easily.

12 Steps on How to Start a School of Your Dreams

There are twelve steps to take to start a school; however, there are only eleven if you’re not going to get accredited. Here is a complete list:

As you go through these steps, some will be accompanied by a video. Other times I may point you to another source or even share documents with you. 

As I mentioned above, I may even offer some resources at a small price to take the load off you. However, they are optional and only designed to help you along. 

You can totally do this without buying anything from me.

It would benefit you to watch these videos, however, as they will give more details where writing will not be able to communicate everything.

Before we get started, let me address this search term that I’ve seen way too much.

How To Start A School Without Money

Although there are some strategies you can take to start a school that will not require a lot of funds, one can’t expect to start a school without any money.

Your school is a business. Any serious entrepreneur knows that there will be some type of startup investment cost, even if it’s just for basic business management tools.

However, many of the steps above can be completed without spending anything. 

So, if you are serious, you can start the process to ensure it’s truly something you want to do before making a considerable investment of money. 

There will come a time, however, when you will have to make investments.

If you are someone who is low on funds, I suggest going through all the steps and completing as much as you can. 

Next, I highly suggest that you watch this video to understand and determine where you are in the process of being ready to start a school business.

Now you are ready. Let’s jump in!

How To Start A School Business 

Step 1. Find Community 

If you truly are determined that you are all in on this process, the first thing I suggest you do is find other people who are taking this journey. 

This is my number-one piece of advice. Still, many will ignore it. Please don’t let it be you. This journey can be so lonely. 

microschool Community
This is one of the school founders’ communities that I am part of. Within this group, you have micro-school leaders who are just starting and some who are working on sustainability. We met up in AZ this spring.

It doesn’t matter if they are across town or out of state. But it is vitally important for several reasons:

  • It provides support. Trust me, you will encounter moments of discouragement. Having a community will help you fight feelings of hopelessness that may come on this journey. It can also help celebrate those small victories. It’s one thing to have support from family and friends, but it’s another thing to have it from people who know and understand.
  • It provides connection and belonging. Togetherness is so critical to our experience as humans. Connecting with others who share some of our values, interests, and worldviews helps us understand that we are not alone.
  • It provides an opportunity for us to share, give back, and learn from one another. Let’s face it, teachers are some of the most giving people there are. It’s in us to want to give back. I believe it’s an innate desire. There is so much I am still learning from the many teachers in our Teacher School Builders Community. For example, people are often finding new, easier, and less expensive ways to do so many things as it relates to creating and running private schools. I can’t possibly keep on top of all the changes. But I come close because of connections who share my ideals.  

Don’t underestimate the importance of finding a crew who understands and who can speak to you wherever you are. 

The networking opportunities among you will prove to be invaluable. Besides, if you have questions about these steps, you can find me in Teacher School Builders (wink). 

I wish I could give you an open invitation to our community. We want to be a safe place for serious, committed, and passionate people interested in taking this journey together.

Only those who invest in any of my products will be invited to join our community. However, you are totally welcome to sign up for my newsletter

I’ve been known to give out freebies to those who read and keep up-to-date with my emails. Also, I still give LOTS of helpful resources and value to my list.

Step 2. Determine what type of school you want.

This step is twofold. I don’t want to assume that we are on the same page, knowing what type of school I am trying to position you to start. Therefore, let me make it clear.

Ideally, one can start a charter school. This is NOT the type of school I help teachers create. 

A charter school is a HUGE undertaking. In addition, it’s expensive and, in some situations, will need to be approved by your local school board. The application is ridiculous too.

We are not even building your typical, well-established, rooted-in-money private school. (It could for sure turn into one.) 

Although what I am helping you to create is technically a private school, you most likely are a one- or two-man team.

Right now, you may not have a lot of resources, but your business structure will be that of a private school. We will talk more about your business structure later.

Thus, for many of you, it will be a micro-school. In other words, a small school that serves generally 5 and upwards of 150 students.

It can be religious or non-religious. Some of you will want a for-profit, while others will choose to start a non-profit. Some of you will take the extra step to become accredited.

If you want to call it a learning pod or homeschool, so be it.

I encourage you to watch this video if you haven’t already. It talks about this more in context. (This video has been on my channel for a while, so you may have seen it.)

Now that we are on the same page, what type of school do you envision? Will it be K–12? How about a middle school or high school only? Who will you serve? 

Plan With The End In Mind

This is the fun part! I am a dreamer and I hope you are too. 

This is where you get to dream up the best school you can imagine to serve your ideal student(s) well.

Maybe you want a day school or virtual program. Is your vision a Montessori or a specialized school for students with learning differences?

It’s ok, create your ideal school on paper. Dream big! 

Your vision may be to one day operate a K-12 program, but you may start off with either elementary, middle, or high. 

You may even start with K-12 in a more modern one-room schoolhouse concept. 

The possibilities are endless. 

I would start with the end from the beginning here. However, actual implementation may be in stages. Again, dream big on paper.

Just know that it’s better to actually start a small school business and grow into your long-range vision of your school. 

The cool part about this is that you are the architect. 

I totally went against the grain and started with high school first. However, I knew from the beginning that I would work with 3rd-12th by the time my dream was fully realized.

Within about two years, I worked my way down to middle school. Eventually, I will start to teach elementary.

Before I walk you through creating your school’s identity, let me take the time to answer a question I get asked A LOT.

But how did you know what type of school to start?

how to start a school

People often ask me, “How do I arrive at knowing what type of school is needed or wanted?” 

Well, I have two different answers for you to consider. Knowing what school to create can come from what I call a calling and/or a business strategy. 

The business person in me says, “Search for parents who are interested in having an alternative education for their children.”

Survey these parents and maybe even some teachers in the area too. What is it that they want or need for the area?

How are the schools in the area? Are they meeting the needs of all students? If not, where they are not may be an opportunity for you.

My friend and fellow school founder, Tiffany of The Village Schools, realized in her area there was a need for quality Christian schools that were also culturally relevant. She fills the gap.

I have another friend and fellow school founder, ToNya of Kipe Academy, who realized in her area that the local school system wasn’t meeting the needs of students who had learning gaps and learning disabilities very well. 

By focusing her school on strengthening skills, she fills that gap.

A good business move or sound business decision is to start a school that there is demand for in your area. 

Trust me! Just because you build it doesn’t mean that they will come. So you may want to make sure your school is wanted.

On the other hand, I allowed my Call from God to determine the type of school I created

I LOVE working with students who learn differently. 

More specifically, I LOVE working with those from middle- and lower-income households who can’t afford the “traditional” private schools but desperately need their flexibility and smaller community where everyone is seen and heard.

I want you to follow your passion, and I want you to succeed too. However, assess the actual need for a school in your area. 

Are the public schools performing well or poorly? Can families in your community afford to pay tuition? 

Depending on where you live, a private school may or may not generate enough interest. Seriously, consider this. 

Knowing what type of school you want will help you decide what type of curriculum you will use later. So it’s important to establish this now.

Don’t worry! Nothing is set in stone; if you need to change it later, you can.

Let’s Create Your School’s Identity

When you are creating your school’s identity, you need to do the following:

  1. Identify your niche.
  2. Choose a school name.
  3. Create your school’s brand

Remember: “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.”

When creating your brand, start with the end from the beginning. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned. 

In order to do this, you have to develop a strong brand. Your name matters. Who you are building your school for matters and even colors matter.

It would be too much to help you build the perfect brand here so I am sharing the video I created for teachers who paid to be in my Beta Course to fill this gap. 

By the way, against the advice of many, I decided not to create the course and sell it. It just didn’t feel right. 

Anyway, don’t skip the video!!! Seriously!

It will walk you through questions and things you need to think about to create a solid school identity, including your brand.

In the video, I referenced “homework” and you can find that information here.

I do advise using this resource after watching the video. 

I actually use my school as an example for you to help make the process easier. Allow it to help your creative juices flow.

Step 2 Wrap-up Checklist

This step has really laid the foundation for your school. 

So please, please ensure that you have completed it. It will only make it harder later on if you don’t. 

The information will eventually build on each other. Much of the information in this step will be needed for other areas later on. 

If you do it now and do it right, I PROMISE it will make it easier when you are developing your business plan, applying for grants, and getting your marketing materials together.

Ensure that you have done the following:

  • Did you read this entire section?
  • Did you watch the entire video?
  • Did you access the “homework” mentioned in the video? Click here!
  • Did you leave no stone unturned? 

Great! We are ready for the next step. It’s a process, I know, but if you are one of the few who actually do the work, you will eventually have yourself a school.

Step 3. Create an advisory board

Please understand the difference between an advisory board and a community, as I discussed above in step one. 

Many of you, like me, are the visionaries of your school. You are the founder. We need to be in a community with each other but we also need other people to help carry out our vision.

When you form your board, you will seek people who support your vision. 

They will hopefully use their gifts and talents to help you achieve your vision for the school. 

This group will empower you. But they will have less stack in your business. Most likely, they will not see the daily ends and outs.

Who are the ideal people you need on your advisory board? 

I would ask a few parents and other influential people in the community. 

It would be great if they had a heart for education or young people. However, they don’t have to. But they need to have skills that will help you develop your school business.

I would ask members of your community who have financial, legal, management, and building experience. 

You can ask people who are on the boards of other foundations or people who work for these foundations. 

Why? Because they know what you don’t know. Or, they know the people you don’t know but need to know.

Connections are key. One of these people could very well connect you to a resource that you will need. You are always one connection away from what you need.

This group can become the core of your first board of directors. We will talk about this later. 

In the meantime, an advisory board can give you advice in their specific areas of expertise. 

They can provide feedback as you make decisions about your school and help you navigate legal and technical things.

Reaching Out To Get Your Advisors On Board

Now you should know exactly who you potentially want on your advisory board. 

It’s time to reach out to them and make the BIG ask. 

Do you remember the work you did in step two? Now you will be using some of it.

Although I call this the BIG ask, it’s not what you think. Don’t ask them for their skill set or money just yet.

You want to invite them to a meeting to learn more about your school and how they can be on your board of advisors. 

There are several ways to do this. Just select the way that is more comfortable for you or more appropriate for the way you may or may not know the person. 

Send an email, make a phone call, or invite them to lunch.

Before doing so, you will want to create a one-pager. 

Using the information from step two, describe your mission and the need for your school. Don’t forget a short introduction of yourself. Make it compelling

You want to make it as short as possible. People don’t like to read anymore. 

Do make it long enough, however, to explain this awesome endeavor you are embarking on that will benefit the community.

Please DO NOT overload them with all the information from step two. 

Just give enough to get to a group in-person or Zoom meeting where you will go into more detail about your school and your vision for it.

It will be at this meeting where you will talk more about why they are needed and invite them to use their skill and wisdom to help you complete the process of building your school.

If they are interested, be sure that you get a commitment of time,  financial support, or their skills donated to your organization. 

If you are a non-profit or going to become one, their donation(s) of time and money may become a write-off for them.

Step 3 Wrap-up Checklist of How To Start A Private School

Completing this step will save you time and money. TRUST me! People always want to help a good cause. You just need to find the ones that do and make the Big Ask.

Before moving on, ensure you have done the following:

  • Watched the video.
  • Created a list of idea advisors 
  • Reached out to this group
  • Set your meeting date to cast your vision and get them on board 

Step 4 Design Your School’s Curriculum

“In America, we have 19th-century school conditions and a curriculum that prepares our kids for the 1990s.” 

These words were spoken by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and there has never been anything stated that was truer. 

I am convinced that the curriculum/standards (pacing) are a huge part of why children are not learning as they should and why well-meaning teachers are pulling their hair out.

I will actually link another video from our Beta Class that will go into this subject in detail below.

However, here is where you have the opportunity to be very innovative and create a program that will truly speak to the type of school you are building.

Understand that you don’t have to use the same curriculums that you used in public education. In fact, I warn against it- at least in some instances. 

Instead, truly use things that will support your learners and would further your school’s mission.

Some people develop their own curriculum, if this isn’t your wheelhouse, don’t do it. It can be more headache than it’s worth.

I use a variety of things. I go into detail in the video below.

Step 4  Wrap-up Checklist of How To Start A Private School

  • Study the curriculum requirements of starting a school for your state.
  • Create a one-pager of your curriculum.
  • Start the process of creating a course catalog, especially if you are doing high school.
  • Research learning and management systems. 

Step 5 Requirements To Open A School (Legal or Operational) 

Another key step is to determine what your business structure will be. Will you be a sole proprietor? 

I do not recommend this. It’s best to put separation between you and the school.

With that said, you will most likely be a limited liability company or a partnership if someone is working with you. There is also the option of being a non-profit. 

File incorporation papers with your Secretary of State. You can have your business formation done for you accurately, quickly, and affordably for convenience.

The lawyer on your advisory board, if you have been able to get one, should be able to handle this for you or point you in the right direction to someone who can. 

If you have to do it on your own, it’s not hard. I filed on my own, howbeit I had to make a few changes to the amendments, but I got it done.

There are costs associated with the filing, but nothing outrageous. But if you do have a lawyer on your team, he or she could donate their legal services to the cause.

For Profit or Non-Profit

Deciding for or against a nonprofit is critical. As a nonprofit, it’s much easier to fundraise. People will give money much more readily to a legal entity or institution as opposed to a person. 

If you decide to establish your own proprietary school, you will be on your own when it comes to raising money.

If you do decide on the nonprofit, you will have to apply for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. 

This is a process. For your sake, I hope your lawyer can handle this application. I actually hired someone to do mine. Money well spent, as I didn’t have time to learn that process. 

No matter who does it, submit it as early in the process as you can so that you can begin to solicit tax-deductible contributions. 

People and businesses will definitely take your fundraising efforts much more favorably if you are a recognized tax-exempt organization.

Tax-exempt status might also help with local taxes. Check your individual state.

I go into more detail as well as discuss other legal requirements in the video below:

Video Coming

Advertising Disclosure: A few links in this article may contain affiliate links. I earn a small amount of commission if you decide to go with my recommendation at NO COST to you. I recommend services that I trust and that is why there are very few in my articles. Funds are used to continue to grow my micro-school.

Step 5  Wrap-up Checklist of How To Start A Private School

Step 6 Funding Options Develop A Fundraising Strategy 

Most of your school’s income will come from tuition at the beginning. Of course, this is outside of your start-up cost. 

I have plans to develop a mini course that will guide you through thinking about different funding options. Let me know in the comments if you might be interested.

It will cover grants (some you don’t have to be a nonprofit to get) and cost-effective strategies you can use when starting with a lower budget. 

In fact, read this article on the best business management tools I use. Omella allows me to collect 100% of my tuition without ANY platform or transaction fees.

Nevertheless, you will need a well-thought-out plan of how you will generate money from multiple streams.

Sorry, bake sales and car washes are not going to cut the mustard. Although they may still have their place, you will not have enough students to make something like that successful.

Developing A Fundraising Strategy 

You need a strategic fundraising plan. Ideally, you and the team can work together to come up with a well-thought-out, creative plan that will work for your specific school.

At Triumph School, we love to include the kids. We like to show them off. So we hosted a Nightmare on Main Street, which was a haunted schoolhouse in the month of October. 

Here is how we did it:

Although I wasn’t as strategic when we did Nightmare on Main Street, it was still a huge success in terms of the overall impact on our students’ learning. Also, did I mention we raised a little over $1K?

For fundraisers we completed after that, we tried to be more purposeful and strategic by actually creating a plan beforehand. 

What to Include in Your Plan

Over at Donor Box, they identified the following steps as a starting point for creating a strategic plan:

  • Include your mission
  • Create objectives
  • Build a team
  • Find funding options for different donor types
  • Use new marketing techniques
  • Research campaigns by others
  • Start online fundraising 

Including well-planned appeals to foundations and local philanthropists in your plan can pay off. If you can afford it, I would hire a professional to help write proposals and identify donors. 

These documents are the gifts that keep on giving because you can use them over and over again. 

If you do have to change them, it would only be small things. Nevertheless, you will use them over and over again. 

A well-thought-out and implemented plan can pay off big time. 

However, I totally wrote my first few grants myself. Triumph has been awarded over $200K on my efforts alone.

I am just starting to seek “professional” help because it can be time-consuming. 

I hope that passing it on to someone who is more knowledgeable will help in the long run with getting more money and causing me fewer gray hairs.

Nevertheless, not only can a well-thought-out plan help you meet your fundraising goals, but it can also help you build a deeper connection with your donors.

The Village Schools

Establishing a connection with your donors is powerful. To give you an example, I donated to The Village Schools because I just love the founder and her vision and mission. 

About five days after making my online donation, I got a package in the mail. It was from The Village Schools. 

Inside the package was a little stuffed animal with the following written on his shirt, “Thanks for being a friend of The Village Schools. 

She hooked me! I felt so important and like a friend…I felt a connection. It most likely will not be my last time donating. 

Nevertheless, she wants everyone to walk away feeling like I did. 

It’s part of her strategic fundraising plan. She also included a handwritten letter. This is also part of her plan. Super creative!

I learned all this the hard way and one of the hardest lessons I learned was building long-term relationships with donors.

They gave a donation; I said thanks and that was it. In the beginning, I had no way to keep track of them and follow up with them. 

Now I know better! I update my donors every so often on new and exciting things we are doing and/or the latest progress with our students. 

I send birthday greetings, I was just thinking of you or anything to let them know I value them and not just the check they write.

In order to do this, I needed an easy way to store their information to make it easy to send these updates. That is where Donor Box comes in.

You can research it yourself; however, it has been the lowest cost management plan I’ve found to date to easily accept donations and keep up with my donors. 

There are no contracts and no set-up fees. You can ask your donors to pay the fees and when they do, it costs you nothing. It is also really easy to use.

Step 6  Wrap-up Checklist of How To Start A Private School

  • Book recommendation- The Little Book of Gold– This is an amazing book and although it’s geared to nonprofits the information can be used by any educational business.
  • Create a fundraising plan. To see how this looks when actually applied to a fundraising event watch this video.  **Video Coming Soon….
  • Research Donor Box and set up an account (no contracts or fees to set up) and start asking for donations.
  • Determine if the mini-course (Coming Soon) can help you by shortening your learning curve.

UPDATE: I just discovered Give Lively, and I am still researching it; however, I am now realizing that although Donor Box advertises a “free” version, it charges a platform and processing fee.

However, Give Lively only has the processing fee. Now, Give Lively isn’t a CRM whereas Donor Box does act as one.

Step 7: Create Your Budget And Private School Business Plan

Don’t stress! You got this and I am here to help.

Guess what else? You will pull some of the information you completed in step two to help you complete this document.

Can you see how this is all coming together now? I sure hope so. Moving on… 

A business plan is important because it will serve as your blueprint for how your school is going to operate. 

However, it doesn’t have to be perfect nor do I believe you have to outsource this, at least not right now.

The reason why I don’t feel it’s a life-or-death document at this point is that I wouldn’t recommend getting a loan. But I do recommend you put one together. 

People will take you more seriously as you work to establish your first board. 

Your plan will show how well-prepared you are. It can also keep you focused as you cast your vision to the community as well as others from whom you seek support.

In addition, this would be a great project to lead your advisory board through. 

It would be awesome to have someone on your advisory board who is an expert who could actually complete this or take the lead on leading your advisory board through completing one. 

If not, no worries! 

I have an excellent resource for you that will help you put yours together with all the components you will need right now.  

School Business Plan Sample PDF Template

If you are in need of a private school business plan (PDF) template that will guide you with instructions to create your own school business plan please consider supporting me by purchasing here.

My private school business plan sample template has it all outlined for you with instructions on what to put in each section. 

If you are interested, you can purchase the business plan template or you can purchase both the template and budget template, which you will read more about below. 

Create Your Budget 

Great news here! If you do your business plan well enough this will be done. 

However, you should still read this first. 

The budget which is part of the business plan is extremely important. I don’t want to minimize this.

How to start a school

When I developed my budget, I focused on 3 years operating budget. You can do the same or focus on one year at a time.

I was very detailed with my expenses and income projections. 

I feel like you are a little tired of me talking about this advisory board, but the financial person on your advisory board should be responsible for developing this critical document. 

So hopefully you have someone in mind for this. If not, my template you time. 

In fact, even if you had someone create it, it will still save them time on researching line items that will need to be included.  

As you project your assumptions about income from tuition, fundraising, and grants, be conservative. Factor in some wriggle room in case things don’t go as planned.

I separated expenditures into three categories. I’ve seen some that only do two. 

If you are in need of a budget that lists everything you will need starting out and in the future, please consider supporting me by purchasing my template ***Coming soon…

Step 7  Wrap-up Checklist of How To Start A Private School

Step 8: Addressing Your Staffing Needs

how to start a school

You are most likely starting small. I still suggest laying the groundwork for when you are ready to hire staff.

I also suggest avoiding being the one-man show. This may mean you have someone part-time or, better yet, a volunteer who can give you a few hours a week.

Will You Be Head of School?

I have assumed that you will be the Head of the School. If you are not going to be the one who will run day-to-day operations, I suggest you identify someone soon.

It is critical to attract skilled faculty and your Head of School should be involved in that process. 

So, if this person isn’t you, identify them as soon as possible.

Start by writing job descriptions for the Head of School position. Do the same for faculty positions. 

These descriptions should be specific to your vision/mission and the type of school you are creating.

I recommend that you look for self-starters who enjoy building something from scratch. 

Ideally, most will shoot for certified instructors, but in many states, they don’t have to be. 

I have hired amazing certified and non-certified teachers and some not-so-amazing of them both.

Please understand that a certified teacher doesn’t equate to an excellent teacher and a non-certified teacher doesn’t equate to a bad one or one who isn’t as good.

The question you should be asking is, “What Makes an Effective Teacher?” Hire effective teachers. Click on Effective Teachers in Microschools, to learn what to look for in your staff.

One way to attract great employees and volunteers is to sell them on the vision of your school. 

If your school is filling an identifiable need in the community, people will love the opportunity to be a solution.

How to start a school

You may be worried about paying competitive compensation. It can be an issue, but I also think there are many people who like the idea of flexibility. 

I also think retirees are a good group that goes untapped for volunteer and paid part-time positions.

Watch the video below to find out how and where to get volunteers, leads on where to find potential teachers for paid positions, and determine what staff may look like for future growth.

In addition, as a bonus in the upcoming mini-funding course, I will create and share several affordable ways you can incorporate certified teachers without breaking the bank and models to attract talented staff.

Step 9: Select The Right Facility To Start Your School

Step 10: Develop your school’s policies and procedures

Step 11: Select an accrediting body (optional)

Video Coming Soon….

Step 12: Develop A Marketing Plan

You can’t afford to get this wrong. Many times we think we can just build it and they will come. Well, that is NOT true. Not by a long shot. 

You have to promote, promote and promote some more.

A marketing plan includes all your school’s marketing goals and objectives combined into a single comprehensive plan. 

If you’ve developed your business plan already, much of that information can be pulled from there. 

The plan will include detailed information on how it’s going to achieve its marketing goals. 

Part of that plan could be advertising for students using billboards and using ads on social media. 

Designing a website and setting up a mailing list to keep interested parents and even current parents informed should also be part of the plan. 

The website doesn’t have to be expensive. You could do it yourself. I would suggest having a blog attached to your website too.  

The best marketing is FREE and a blog can help you get in Google’s search engine. Too much to go into here, but maybe one day soon I’ll create a video to explain more.

Having a mailing list is essential. I use Convert Kit because they have a free plan for up to 1,000 emails. I’ve used MailChimp in the past, but it’s too complicated for me.

Using Convert Kit, allows me to send monthly newsletters easily. 

You want to keep your parents and potential parents updated with what’s going on in your school, especially those parents who are on the fence about your school.

I’ve had parents “date” me for an entire year before enrolling their child. But what convinced them, in the end, was all the success stories in my newsletters. 

Having a mailing list just makes it so much easier. Convert Kit does a lot of awesome things too. You can great landing pages too and more.   

Marketing is one of those things where you need to be consistent. You may not see any results from your labor immediately, but it does pay off. 

It can be expensive, but it’s more expensive NOT to have a plan and not follow it. You have to be creative to get it all done.

I believe in working smarter, not harder. I created a marketing presentation. Unfortunately, I have yet to do a complete “professional” marketing plan.

However, with the information in my business plan and my marketing presentation, I am good for right now. But, I am always improving my knowledge of the marketing process.

I recently wrote an article that will help you increase your enrollment. Read Small School Marketing Strategies for 11 of the best strategies for small schools.

Anyway, I like the way the marketing presentation is laid out. It’s not a lot of reading, which most people don’t like to read. 

I use it in live presentations and I actually send this to people when I am trying to get sponsorships, backing from small community businesses, and recruiting board members. 

If you are interested, you can find it here. Right now it’s a PDF, but in the future, I will make it so that you can customize it to fit your brand. With the PDF version, you will still get to see the same strategies I use to market my school and the key points donors want to know. 

Congrats!!!! You’ve Done It- Well A Lot Of It

**If this has been helpful, please consider giving me a tip. It helps me to be able to continue to devote time to giving away free content. Click here!**

Wrap-UP! How To Start A School 

At the beginning of this article, I promised I would share steps on how to start a school. I identified and went into detail on the following steps:

  • Find Community
  • Determine Type Of School
  • Create An Advisory Board
  • Design Your School Curriculum
  • Requirements To Open A School (Legal/Operational)
  • Funding Options
  • Create Your Budget And Business Plan
  • Address Your Staffing Needs
  • Select The Right Facility To Start Your School
  • Develop Your School’s Policies And Procedures
  • Select An Accrediting Body (OPTIONAL)
  • Develop A Marketing Plan

This process can seem overwhelming. It looks more intimidating than it really is. 

I tried to beat the horse over the head with the different members you may consider for your advisory board. 

Unfortunately, I personally did these steps by myself. However, I would NOT recommend you do that. In fact, I am going back now to try to establish a solid board. 

Your success will be greater as you get others to buy into your vision EARLY. 

So, take the time needed to sell your advisory board, parents, community, and staff on the school’s vision.

Lastly, if this article has been helpful, please let me know below with a comment and share it with ALL the teachers you know who are interested in starting their very own school business. 

Also, here is a complete list of the products I have for sale. 

Remember, these are to cut your learning curve so that you can get through this process faster. However, I am always appreciative of your support when you invest in my products.

List of products: More Coming Soon….

I hope this was helpful. If you don’t know me, you can learn a little more here.


  1. Olivia West

    This was some GREAT information! Thank you Cindy! I will be sharing this with my colleagues

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Thank you and please do. My goal is to be a wealth of information for anyone wishing to embark upon this journey.

      • Julie Urbina

        Thank you for taking the time to write this out. This is extremely helpful for me to keep what you have learned and tried already as my base line.

    • Hope Moses

      I’m interested

    • Abdikani

      Amazing, I am interested and it’s really helpful for me.

        • Spencer Z. Brown

          I am thrilled by your start.

        • Mittah

          I want to build my school

  2. James Aumack

    I have just completed a 8000 word true story regarding why we started our own Afterschool Program that ran for 20 years and brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in Grant Money in Jersey City, New Jersey. This program ran for over twenty years and serviced hundreds of minority children. In New Jersey there is money available from both State and Federal sources if you are a Registered Non-Profit Corporation and have the guts to apply and operate the project. If interested on how we did it get in touch with me at [email protected] and I’ll send along my true story.

    We started this project because several teachers were removed from the Bd. of Ed. afterschool jobs and replaced with ‘favorite sons’ so to speak. We moved on and they failed.

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      This is wonderful. I would love to hear your story.

      • Rev David Chanda

        Cindy, I just came across this great information by chance. Thank you so much for sharing.

        • Cindy Lumpkin

          You are so welcome. I see that you are Rev. David Chanda. By chance are you looking to start a school via your church? I personally believe that there is a gap in education that the Church could help fill for kids via microschools. I would love to hear your vision if you are interested in starting a school. My I reach out?

    • Stephanie Shah

      I discovered you on YouTube because I started my own Non-Profit/ Private School 15 years ago and it’s going great.
      I’m currently expanding and deciding to invest in a building.
      I’m also trying to decide to I want to switch to charter school or public school to get the funding to help the students to attend the school if they do not have the funding.
      Your video is very helpful.
      Keep up the work.

      • Cindy Lumpkin

        Thank you and what is your school name? Do you have a website or social media platform where I can connect? Charter might be a little work, but it is worth it to get the funding. I would just need a team of people and I am not there yet. Also, does your state have school choice voucher programs? I get funding from this.

  3. Pearl

    Hey Cindy.
    I came on again to refresh myself so I can be better prepared to respond to the group you created. Thank you for sharing your expertise free. If a school builder follows the knowledge you have shared, I have no doubt they will be successful. You have provided some real hope to some educators that desire to be school builders. As we know, the pandemic has magnified the need for parents to have choices. To me educating a child should not be the same for every child. It is not like everyone wears the same size shoe. I am an advocate for “choice” in education. For too long, public education has been the dominant choice. There are so many other entities to consider such as private school, homeschool, micro school, co op schools/programs, charter schools, hybrid schools and more. Again thank you for this valuable resource that makes the journey of becoming a school builder possible. I am a cheerleader for life.

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Awww… such an encouraging post for me and it lets me know I am on the right track for what’s next. This article will be updated even more within the next two to three weeks. Sign up for the newsletter and I will announce it there. But the videos I did for the Beta course back in the spring will be released…for free. At the end of the day, I am not a sales person, I am a teacher who believes in this wave of choice and even more for teachers starting their own small schools. I know how passionate I am about education, but how ineffective I felt I was in the system. My kids are so much better off in my small school than they ever were in public schools. All teachers desire the opportunity to be their best and educate kids the way they need it to be their best. Thanks for your kind words.

  4. Mutete Theogina

    Powerful information. Am now good to go. I can see clearly now where I want to go

  5. Mutete Theogina

    Powerful information. Am now good to go. I can see clearly now where I want to go

  6. Kim

    Thank you for all of this information. I definitely will be using the steps to start planning my dream school.

  7. Sizwe Mkhaliphi

    My wife asked me to assist her with her idea of building a boarding school that will focus on leadership and entrepreneurship here in South Africa. The school will accommodate 90% of paying learners and 10% non-paying learners from poor families.

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      This is amazing!!! I hope all goes well and that this helps!

    • Susan Stout

      I am a 55 year old missionary in Zambia, Africa. I taught school in the states for ten years.

      I am building a private Christian School by faith in “the bush” with no electricity and a hand pump for water. I am currently conducting classes in two small classrooms at the back of a church. The village where I stay has approximately 400 families; a good manageable amount of children for a small rural school. I believe, we will eventually become a boarding school, but we have to walk one step at a time.

      I truly believe God is going to send the provision for us to build a k-12 school this year. 🙂

      Sizwe Mkhaliphi, can you give me any advice?

      Our students are 100 percent supported by sponsors. I have been begging my friends and family back home to support a child at 150.00 per year so that I can finance the project until we can establish a cotton patch and a cloth factory for the villagers to
      make the school dependent on the business. There are so few opportunities in the bush for employment and I believe this will greatly increase the lives of all the villagers.

      Thanks for taking time to read. God bless. Susan Stout

      • Cindy Lumpkin

        This is awesome!! I will add my prayers of agreement. Do you have any social media platforms I can follow?

  8. Vincent

    Very informative . But please is it advisable to start a school while you still have a job or for an effective start you need to quiet the job, or can you partner someone to start whiles you still keep your job?

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      I am ALL for partnering, period!! Here is the thing, you can plan your school and get everything in place while you are working. One of the teachers in my group has done just that. She started last January and this is her last year teaching in public school. She was very intentional about putting everything in place while she was still working; however, when she opens doors this coming school year she would have resigned from her teacher position.
      Of course, if you wanted to have students someone would need to be there to teach them. So, if not you are still working and would like to open you would have to have someone there. I don’t think it much matter, it generally depends on your situation. Hope this helps!!

  9. Kahley R McFadden

    Hi I was reading your article about starting your own private school and it said there were some things we could buy that would make the process easier for us, however I couldn’t find where those items were. I am super interested in buying anything that will help make the process of starting a school easier for me. Please let me know thank you

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Hello Kahley, I hope all is well. So, yes; however, the article and some of those products are still in progress. However, I do have some ready. They are actually linked in the blog. The process is all written in the blog and the free checklist will help. Before buying anything, I would go through step by step and complete the steps and buy once you get to that point. If you need coaching, I might be doing that later on. The demand right now is just to great. If you have questions, list them here and I will do my best to answer them if I can do so via responding back.
      Here is what I have so far:The check list is free:

      The school business plan:

      The marketing plan:

      Links to these are all in the blog.

    • Daniel langa

      I like to open my computer school for children. Where should i start and register. I have computer qualification and i want to pass to the coming generation. Must i start at department of education? Then for certificate where must i consult to show that they passed

  10. Daniel langa

    I like to open my computer school for children. Where should i start and register. I have computer qualification and i want to pass to the coming generation. Must i start at department of education? Then for certificate where must i consult to show that they passed

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Read the article, it should give you direction.

  11. Andrew L Mbewe

    Great advice.

  12. Kwame Apenteng

    I am in the process of opening a school in africa,. I truelly find courage and inspiration in you article

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Please keep me posted. I would love to follow any social media platforms you have.

  13. Magdeline

    Hi I learned a lot and I like to open a school like after care to help them with homeworks
    Because some children they are slow ,I will like to help them so that they must enjoy school .

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Yes!! Like a learning center. i encourage you to do it. Parents are looking for places like this. We are getting ready to start-up our TRIUMPH after-school tutoring program in the fall. We will tutor reading and math and do homework help.

  14. Danielle Almansa

    How can I speak to you further? I would love to open my own private school for my community. I already own a childcare center

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Danielle that is wonderful. I love to hear this and it will be an easy transition. I no longer have the capacity to speak with everyone individually. I do try to answer people’s questions on my videos and this blog when I see it. I am also activate on my Facebook page Cindy Lumpkin, The LD Coach. Join my newsletter and I will start doing pop-up Zooms. But I can’t promise when it will be.

      • Nthabi

        I’m glad to hear information about new opportunities. I like to find out if you can assist though I’m in South Africa

        • Cindy Lumpkin

          Hi, I am sorry. However, I only know how things work in the US with starting a school.

  15. Jennifer Young

    I am so excited about beginning this journey of starting my own school. I have ideas but having someone guide you through the process is exciting. I have been a certified teacher for almost twenty years. I have a Master’s in Elementary Education and Administration and Supervision. I have been through a Leadership Academy. However, I don’t want to work for a district, I want to create my own educational business. I have prayed about this for a few years, but I have been hesitant about stepping out of my comfort zone. I feel that now is the time.

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Go for it!!!! You will do an amazing job.

  16. Amy Blake

    Hi Cindy
    This is a great inspiration not just for teachers but for us homeschooling moms and dads. I would love to share my story and get some feedback from you. I live in Massachusetts so the Private school rules are a bit more flexible.

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Sorry it has taken me so long. I would love to hear your story!!!

  17. Tebogo

    Hi Cindy I am interested in this as business but the interest is to start university now starting from uniform school that will feed the university

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Amazing idea!!! I use to want a university too, but focusing with my k-12 until is stable without me.

    • gilbert kasonde

      This is very helpful. Will definitely follow it and adapt to my environment here in Africa

      • Cindy Lumpkin

        Awesome!!! I don’t know the specifics, but yes there is a lot of general information you can use to open a wonderful school in Africa. Please keep me posted on your progress.

      • Cindy Lumpkin

        Wonderful!!! Let me know of other things that I can help you with, especially if I can write about it.

  18. Hunduma

    Great ideas for those who desire to create school and currently in education bussiness. Thank you!

  19. Joe

    Hello Cindy,
    So I read this book called Explorer Academy and I thought to myself wow I wish there was a school like that. So I decided to make that school real. This post was very helpful to me and I hope someday someone gets famous for what they accomplished at my school.


    • Cindy Lumpkin

      As the eternal optimist that I am, I believe it will happen. What is your school’s website? I love learning about other programs.


    How can I get in touch with you.

    After finding you on YouTube I am very much motivated to start a small private school. This is my email address and I would like to buy the sample of your business plan and others.
    Email: [email protected]

    Am happy to hear form you soon.

    Thank you.
    Miss. Kiniye Lepi

    • Cindy Lumpkin

      Hello, I don’t have my personal plan for sale; however, their is a link to a business plan template with complete directions for each part.


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