Charles Green

The teacher mindset

English teachers are all business owners

So lets dig in and get right to the meat of the article. 

Many of you might be sitting back and reading this asking yourself "Why is this about business and not about teaching, making lesson plans, or any of the other many important task teachers do to be successful?" 

Frankly, the answer's simple; we all want to earn more money and some just don't know how. Besides there's already loads of information available on the topics of class organization and I don't really think my input on the matter would be all that valuable.

Well, lets state the obvious, there are definitely some very different approaches to making money as English teachers in Thailand.  Some teachers choose to work at language schools, government schools, private schools, and full-time freelance. 

After studying all the different approaches in search for the "best" approach I have found that there are two common factors that determine whether you will succeed or fail using any or a combination of the approaches. Not surprisingly the keys to success in the TEFL industry are personal relationships and self-marketing.


You might be asking yourself, "So, what does this have to do with being a business owner?". The answer is "mindset". There are two very different mindsets that most people have. I call them the Employee Mindset and the Business Owner Mindset.

Employee Mindset - You know the person that goes to work everyday complaining to everyone that will listen that they don't make enough money and that they are being taken advantage of. It's also the person that is usually the last person to get to work and the first person to leave. Finally, the person with an employee mindset usually does just enough lesson preparation to keep the students awake and to keep collecting a paycheck.

Business Owner Mindset - It is usually the exact opposite of the employee mindset. The people with the business owner mindset are usually the first people to work and are often one of the last people the leave. They do that little extra that takes their lessons from being good to being exceptional. Note: An easy way to tell if your lesson was exceptional is if when the students leave they are still talking about the lesson topic.

In Thailand, I have found that people quickly get labeled and categorized as either good or bad, helpful or unhelpful, good teachers or bad teachers, etc. 

Then once you are labeled, it is a long and difficult process of changing your projected image. It is up to each of us to determine what type of mindset we want to have and get labeled with. In order to help you seriously consider the business owner mindset lets take a look at a few numbers (I didn't mention it but I am also a math teacher, so I like numbers).

The numbers

A study conducted by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs in the United States found that every unhappy customer (student, boss, co-teacher, etc.) shares their grievances with at least nine other people, and that 13 percent of unhappy customers will tell 20 or more people. Unfortunately, satisfied customers tell only half as many people (five other people, on average) of their positive experience.

Lets use an example of the numbers to help get a solid understanding of how this works. 

For instance, I teach more then 700 students per week at a large government school outside of Bangkok. From the above study I know statistically that if a student has a good experience they will in turn tell approximately 5 to 10 people. However, if they have a bad experience they will usually tell 13 to 20 people or more. 

So at the end of the week, I know I can either have 3500 - 5000 people hearing good things about me or I can have 9,000 to 14,000 people hearing bad things about me. 

Now if only 1% of the people (brothers, sisters, mother, fathers, uncles, aunts, friends, etc.) that my students share their experiences with are outside the school than I have just gained 35 to 50 potential customers per week. On the other hand if I do a bad job, with the same 1%, then I know that I have just lost 90 to 140 potential customers per week.

In other words, good news travels fast but bad news travels even faster. 

I also know that if I take an extra 30 minutes and prepare a little extra in order to do an extraordinary instead of a good job then just that may more people are going to know about it and thus it will be easier in the long run to make more money.

Good luck to all and happy marketing.


If you want to "make money" teaching ESL is probably not the best career to go into, but of course making some coin does matter.

Nevertheless I have to agree with the main point of the article. You own your own career, do something with it. All the bellyaching in the world about how bad are other people or the environment you work in does nothing to help a person earn a living or enjoy life.

By Jack, LOS (3rd February 2020)

Must say this article hits the nail on the head. Far to many teachers complain instead of doing something about it. As I say if you don't like it here then leave and find something more to your liking

By Cristo, Thailand (3rd February 2020)

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

English and Science Secondary Specialist Teachers

฿75,000+ / month


Fun Native English Teachers

฿44,000+ / month


Kindergarten Teacher

฿45,000+ / month


English Conversation Teachers

฿35,000+ / month


English, Science and Math Teachers

฿42,300+ / month


Female European Kindergarten Teacher

฿35,000+ / month


Featured Teachers

  • Don

    American, 61 years old. Currently living in USA

  • Robert

    American, 60 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Barry

    Australian, 59 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Svetlana

    Belarusian, 39 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Nevraisa

    Filipino, 35 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Rylan

    Myanmarese, 26 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot

Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.

Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.

The cost of living

The cost of living

How much money does a teacher need to earn in order to survive in Thailand? We analyze the facts.

The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?

The Region Guides

The Region Guides

Fancy working in Thailand but not in Bangkok? Our region guides are written by teachers who actually live and work in the provinces.

Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.

Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!

Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?