The Ins and Outs of Starting a New School
Image source: WeAreTeachers
Are you an educational expert who believes that the schooling system is in desperate need of change?
Are you willing to dedicate your time and energy to creating an educational establishment that will be remembered by generations to come?
If you are both of these things, you have come to the right place.
Starting a new school can be a daunting undertaking, but with the right vision, careful planning, and a healthy support system, success is virtually guaranteed.
To help your vision come to fruition, we have decided to provide you with an in-depth guide on how to start a new school. You will learn how to build your school’s identity, craft business plans, and budgets, increase your school’s online presence, and find the right staff for your new school.
Building a School Identity
Identity is what brings a group of people together, increases group cohesion, and maintains a school community.
Building a school identity requires:
- Coming up with a school’s name
- Creating a school’s brand
Coming Up With a School’s Name
If you are opening a high school that is affiliated with a well-known chain of schools, you will have to adhere to the chain’s established naming convention. Coming up with a name for an independent school is a bit more tricky because you will have to consider whether the following conditions are met:
- A valid domain name is available
- Another high school with the same name doesn’t already exist
- There are no copyright issues regarding a word or phrase included in your school’s name
Purchasing a Domain Name
Purchasing a logical domain name (easily relatable to your brand) is crucial for building your school’s online presence. Both your website and email addresses will contain the domain name, so you should make sure that it is easily remembered and, preferably, easy to type. This includes avoiding underscores and hyphens in your school’s domain name.
Given that domains no longer have to end with .com, .org, or .net, you should not have any issues using the domain name you have come up with by going for a different domain ending such as .school, .academy, etc.
To reserve a domain name, you will need to use one of many available domain registrars such as:
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Make Sure That The Name Is Authentic
Before you settle for a particular name for your high school, make sure that no other school in your state is using it.
Although having your school share the same name as another one in a different state does not have to be a cause for concern (from the copyright standpoint), it can be confusing, and you do not want that.
To make sure that no other school in your area uses the same name, you can check out one of the following websites:
Potential Copyright Challenges
Before finalizing your school’s name, it would be smart to consult an attorney that specializes in intellectual property—to make sure that your school’s name does not get confused for the names of other brands and companies on the marketplace.
Last names often create copyright issues as many companies have their founder’s last name in the title.
Crafting a Brand
Image source: HEM
One thing that almost all successful brands have in common is that they stand out from the competition.
To craft a successful school brand, you need to cover the branding basics that include:
- Visual branding
- Mission statement and core values
The Importance of Visual Branding
When crafting your school’s brand, working on visual materials that will represent your establishment is more than necessary.
Logos and wordmarks are a great place to start your visual branding process. Your school’s logo will influence the rest of the visual branding decisions you will have to make—be it color choices, playful or serious designs, etc.
Instead of creating these visual items yourself, we suggest giving design websites like 99Designs and LogoTournament a shot.
Mission Statement and Core Values
When conceptualizing your school’s mission statement, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my school’s core values
- What is my school’s mission
- How will the community perceive my school
- What will make my school stand out
Exploring the answers to these questions will help set the tone for your school culture, which will subsequently affect the recruitment process.
If you are struggling to define your school’s mission statement and core values, you can find guidance in:
- Our school mission statement guide
- CultureIQ’s guide to defining company values
Creating a Business Plan and Budget When Starting a New School
Your planning process can easily go sideways if you do not construct a viable business plan carefully.
Business plans are essential for gaining confidence in your school’s vision, as well as building confidence in others to help them understand how you plan to turn your dream into reality.
To start working on a business plan, you first need to be clear about your mission and core values. After you have established them, you have to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the perfect number of students in my high school? You should be confident about the size of the school you want to build. Is your goal to have over 500 students, or do you want your student count to remain small?
- Who are the families and students I want to teach? Is your goal to educate the underserved population that your community has neglected? Do you want to bring like-minded families together, based on a shared academic philosophy, opportunity, or religious conviction?
- What role should I take? If you want to be satisfied with what you have achieved, assessing your passions and aspirations beforehand is a must. Do you enjoy spending time in the classroom? If so, you should make sure to split your time between doing administrative tasks and teaching. The beauty of starting a new school is that you get to design the job of your dreams for yourself.
A Budget and a Business Plan Are Not the Same
People often mix up budgets and business plans and cannot easily tell them apart.
- A budget is nothing more than an internal document that helps you keep track of your income and expenses. Many of the decisions that a school leader needs to make are based on the budget’s capacity.
- A business plan is a complex document that serves as a guidebook and tells you how and what you will accomplish with your school. Financial institutions will want to examine your business plan before deciding whether your school is worth investing in.
Creating Your School Budget
Above all things, you should make sure that your budget is easy to read and understand.
To achieve this, you are going to want to use spreadsheets or other organizational methods that make keeping track of your budget hassle-free.
Fortunately, there are many business budget templates available online that can be tweaked to meet your school’s needs.
When creating a budget, you should consult the following resources to familiarize yourself with the fundamental principles of budget creation:
- A beginner’s guide to planning and managing school budgets by The Guardian
- Practical Guidance for Independent School Business Operations by The National Business Officers Association
- School Budgets 101 by The American Association of School Administrators
Creating a Business Plan
Creating a business plan is a time-consuming effort.
However, the fact that business plans tend to follow a standardized format facilitates the process greatly.
You can approach your business plan in two ways:
- A traditional business plan — Traditional business plans or “full” business plans are all-inclusive and detailed. When creating a traditional business plan, you get to identify certain areas of planning that you might have overlooked previously, such as financing requests and market analysis.
- A start-up business plan — Start-up or “lean” business plans are much faster to write and focus only on a few crucial elements, like revenue streams and key partnerships. Start-up plans are a great starting point, especially when you are in the process of acquiring funds.
Most business plan templates share common characteristics, so you should not think long and hard about which one to settle on. The following resources will give you an idea on how to approach your business plan:
If you do not want to deal with creating a business plan on your own, you can always hire a professional online agency to do it for you. Here are some of the agencies that you might want to check out:
Developing Your Marketing Strategy
No matter the industry you are in, having a solid marketing strategy impacts your outreach drastically.
When taking on the role of a marketer, your goal is to provide a unique value or benefit that meets the needs and solves the problems of your customers. In terms of high schools, that can be an individual approach to learning, a one-of-a-kind curriculum, etc.
That unique thing that sets your school apart is known as the “brand promise,” and it will play a major role in how successful your marketing strategy turns out to be.
Designing a School Website
When they need to do some research, the first place people visit is the web. That is why you want to have a neatly designed and fully operational website even before you open your school’s doors. Keep in mind that the website has to:
- Have a responsive design — Given that your future prospects will not necessarily have a computer nearby when they find out about your school, ensuring that your website is equally as functional and intuitive to use on all devices is essential
- Communicate your story — People who are visiting your website for the first time want to learn about your school’s story and vision quickly. That is why your website needs to illustrate your school culture through words, photo galleries, and easily accessible videos
- Look and feel professional — In today’s world, people are used to assessing the quality of service via the content presented on a website. To make sure that your website speaks volumes about your competence, it has to be clean, well-organized, and visually appealing.
Traditional Marketing Methods
Online marketing is something that you should focus on the most when starting a new school.
Traditional marketing strategies still have their place in today’s world and should be used simultaneously with various online marketing methods. Some of the best traditional marketing channels are:
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Word of mouth
Spreading the word about your new high school is a highly effective marketing strategy. People trust their family and friends, and if they tell them about your educational establishment, they will likely be more interested than if they learn about it from a stranger.
Radio is still a practical and inexpensive channel for propagating your new school. You can announce your application deadline and opening date via radio and ensure general coverage.
Advertising your high school in local newspapers, magazines, and community calendars is also a viable marketing strategy that can help you achieve your enrollment goals.
Another marketing channel that can make your new school known is local TV. Identify the programs your target demographic watches and become a sponsor or advertiser on them.
Using Social Media To Advertise Your New School
Social media platforms are perfect for getting the message about your new high school across. The best thing about them is that you do not need a substantial marketing budget to make your online marketing strategies effective.
One thing that you should keep in mind is that posting regular updates on your social media channels is necessary to advertise your high school successfully. If you do not have the means to post new content continuously, limit the number of channels that you are using.
Social media platforms that you should take into consideration are:
- Facebook—You can set up a business page for your high school that will contain your school’s name, location, and a link to the school’s website. Since Facebook has millions of users, your high school Facebook page will probably receive a substantial amount of traffic.
- Nextdoor—If you want to keep your local community updated with your school’s activities, Nextdoor is the ideal platform for your purposes.
- Twitter—Given that Twitter limits the number of characters that you can use, it is a great channel for updating your school community about important snippets of information, such as your school’s opening date.
Finding and Hiring the Right Staff When Starting a New School
Image source: Career FAQs
Finding the right staff is the most challenging aspect of starting a new school—yet the most important one.
The right teaching staff will help you start on the right foot and provide a solid foundation on which you can build your school community.
You can advertise open teaching positions on various online platforms, but the best ones are:
Hiring the Right People
When hiring new people for your high school, it is important to find the right staff that will become an asset to it.
You can adhere to entrepreneur Alan Hall’s 7Cs when interviewing future employees:
- Culture—Does the candidate fit your school’s culture?
- Capable—Is the applicant willing to grow and learn even further?
- Competent—Does the interviewee have the necessary skills and education for the job?
- Commitment—Will they stick around for a while?
- Compatible—Will the candidate get along with other staff members?
- Compensation—Do you have the means to pay the prospective employee appropriately?
- Character—Does the aspiring candidate share your school’s values?
How To Start a New School the Right Way
As long as you are confident in your vision, have a strong business plan, and hire the right staff, the process of starting a new school will be less stressful and laborious.
Be careful about how you define your school’s brand and make sure to offer something unique that will make your school stand out within the community.
Although the process of starting a new school is laborious, the whole community will get to reap the benefits of the end result. Keep your vision clear and surround yourself with the right people, and in a few years’ time, we will have better functioning educational institutions.