In all our social interactions, we're faced with expectations of how we should behave. Etiquette classes identify these rules and teach students how to act in social and business situations. Starting an etiquette school is a way to earn an income by providing this service through classes and courses.
Make a list of all the areas of etiquette you are interested in teaching. These could include etiquette for dining, wardrobe and accessories, interviews, first impressions, networking, communication, social entertaining, issuing and accepting invitations and attending family gatherings. Include seasonal etiquette needs, such as wedding etiquette and international etiquette and customs for travelers. Highlight the etiquette areas in which you are interested and in which you have some knowledge.
List all the age and social groups that might benefit from some etiquette knowledge. Include different ages and stages of life (teens, seniors) as well as different social groups, such as mothers, business people and cell phone owners. Highlight the groups that you would like as your students.
Look in your local phone directory for competitors. Contact the Chamber of Commerce and your library, and ask if they know of any local etiquette businesses or organizations. Contact these businesses or organizations and find out what they offer and to whom. Change your lists to remove any areas of overlap.
Choose the topics and groups you will teach. For example, teaching cell phone use to teenagers or wedding etiquette to a wedding party. Write down all the etiquette knowledge you have in these areas. If you don't have enough information or experience to teach a class in any of these areas, decide whether you need to take some courses, become certified as an etiquette teacher or read some books. Decide whether to hire additional teachers who have relevant experience.
Write down what etiquette rules and behaviors you will teach for each of your classes. Decide on the length of each class and whether it will be part of a series of classes in a course. You could have an etiquette course for business people which includes individual classes such as power lunch etiquette, what to wear to an interview and how to network at business meetings. Schedule the time and day of each class. Invent catchy but recognizable names for each of the classes and courses. Write a clear description of the social situation and etiquette problems you will cover in the class, and who the students should be.
Decide what to charge for each class. Factor in all your costs, your time and a profit, and consider what people are willing to pay.
Find a space in which to hold the classes. Set up your space to reflect the class you are teaching -- setting the table for a dining etiquette course or hanging up a collection of business clothes for a wardrobe and makeup etiquette class. Check with your local council authority about business licenses and business insurance, and negotiate rental or lease agreements if needed.
Advertise your etiquette school and classes. Make fliers and business cards, place an advertisement in your local paper, and mail them a press release. Join the Chamber of Commerce and network at the meetings. Approach local businesses and offer to conduct a free etiquette class for their staff as an introduction to your service.
Develop partnerships with local businesses that complement your own. Offer a discount on your wedding etiquette class for customers of a bridal store. Create a class just for the students at a local cooking school. Talk to pet stores about an etiquette class for dog owners, about what to do at an off-leash park or when walking their dogs. Arrange a discount at your favorite restaurant if you take your dining etiquette students there for their final exam.
Christina Ash has been writing since 1982, throughout her career as a computer consultant, anthropologist and small-business owner. She has published work in various business, technology, academia and popular books and journals. Ash has degrees in computer science, anthropology and science and technology studies from universities in England, Canada and the United States.