One of the most common blockers isn't too few students, it's too many! To find your first few students, you'll want to narrow down your search.
We've created this "Niche Finder" brainstorming exercise, which should help to unblock you, and may even give you some good ideas about alternative markets to look into, if you already have a niche.
Finding a niche market doesn't mean you have to provide specialist classes or turn students away who don't fit your criteria. It's simply a way to focus your efforts, and take on a more manageable project. For our purposes here, we can consider a "niche" to be any group of students with something in common, making them easier to target.
Take teaching English for example - There are 1.5 billion English learners (yes, billion!). Trying to reach them all would be insane. Now think about reaching students whose parents have recently moved to an anglophone country. That's a small group, who rely heavily on advice and peer to peer recommendations.
Don't overlook non-thematic niches either. The world has 1.5 billion English learners, but your home town might have less than 100. With a geographical niche, you have the added advantage of physical advertising. Just because you're teaching online, it doesn't mean flyers in your local library won't get results.
What about friends and family? When your business is more established, you'll start to lean more heavily on referrals and recommendations from existing students. Before you reach that point, you should pass the word around. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get yourself noticed.
You'll want to play to your strengths too. But what about architecture students who are studying abroad and need English for their course? An English teacher with a qualification another subject, in this case architecture, might be able to relate to these students more, and advertise their services.