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Founder of online tuition service Exemplar Education Anthony Lee gives us his top tips on how to differentiate your business. The world of learning is big business in the UK. The popularity of private tuition has skyrocketed with recent estimates suggesting that over a quarter of secondary school pupils are now frequently boosting their chances of strong academic attainment with the support of a private tutor; a trend that’s fueling a booming market worth over £2 billion. The competition for a share of this rapidly growing and highly lucrative market is white hot with a growing list of learning support options for parents to choose from. Options for parents now range from the age-old one-to-one private tuition, to the country’s ever-expanding fleet of tuition centres, in addition to our unique home-based learning system. There’s now a world of choice with various learning services set out by businesses to appeal to the lifestyles and budgets of families from all walks of life. In an increasingly crowded market, how does a long-established company like Exemplar Education stick to its guns and stand out from younger businesses? Create your niche Our mantra is to ‘always put the child’s education first’. We believe that everything else follows naturally. We successfully identified an appetite for a home-based alternative to private tuition and built a platform of over two thousand video tutorials and six million questions. Identifying a real niche in the market with an affordable solution that has continued to fit easily into the busyness of modern family life has helped us stand the test of time and successfully supported the learning needs of over 400,000 children. 28 years after creating our unique niche, we are still the only player there. Use your USP as a starting block It’s important to identify your USP and use this as a building block for developing your brand differentiation strategy. All parents are desperate to provide their children with the best possible start in life, and a solid education is one of those foundation stones. Our approach built upon the positives from the traditional tutor, whilst removing the negatives, such as logistics. Our system allows children to work from home and at a time suitable for them. We set ourselves apart by providing parents with a full support service and giving students personalized, ability-based assessments to improve their confidence and motivation. Stay relevant without compromising your business approach Although our USP has fundamentally remained the same, we consciously improved each aspect in order to remain current and effective. For us, it’s important to keep pace with technology without sacrificing the quality of our tried and proven teaching methods. Moving from the original video-based programme to an internet-based, dynamic study plan based on a more comprehensive diagnostic process, we are constantly looking for ways to evolve, improve and develop with the market. It’s important to stay on top of market trends, whilst maintaining your core business values. Be patient and persevere The first few years following the concept’s initial inception were undoubtedly slow. We were creating a brand-new industry, so there were no rules or guidance – our challenge was to create it all from scratch. Did we stumble, were there surprises and unexpected hurdles? Of course, but each obstacle we overcame, ultimately strengthened our business model for the better. Once our franchising programme kicked off, things picked up quickly and the business exploded in terms of national coverage, school engagement levels and number of families enrolling with us. It’s important to remember that things rarely go exactly to plan, and it was only with hard work, tenacity and an unwillingness to give up that we got to where we are today. Fundamentally, to stay at the top of your game, businesses must stick to their principles, whilst adapting to the market. The question you now need to ask yourself is, what makes you stand out against your competitors?