Tips for Starting a Childcare Business
Ready to take your passion for childcare to the next level? Whether you’re just starting on your journey of owning a daycare business or you’re looking to expand your current in-home program, the success of your center can be made (or broken) in the first few months.
At LifeCubby, the team behind our award-winning management software is stacked with former childcare pros (including our founder, an actual center owner), so we know a thing or two about successfully starting a childcare business. We’ve taken our top tips — on everything from planning to day-to-day operations — and put together this guide to ensure your program starts off on the best foot possible.
1. Look into your state/city’s licensing requirements.
Every state has different requirements when it comes to getting your childcare business approved and licensed. Before starting your journey, it’s best to look into the guidelines for your area and create a checklist to ensure you’re meeting all criteria. You’ll also be able to find out the insurance requirements for centers in your area so you can plan accordingly.
Not sure where to find your city’s requirements? We recommend reaching out to your local Department of Children and Family Services. You can also check out ChildCare.gov’s state resource page to quickly find licensing agencies and requirement lists for your area.
2. Draft out a business plan.
Once you’ve determined the requirements for owning a childcare business in your state, you can turn your attention to building out a firm plan for your business. Not only will this help you stay organized as you get your company off the ground, but it will also help you set tangible goals for your program, outline your services and create a game plan for staffing, budgeting and more.
Your business plan should include branding details (like your name, mission statement, logo, etc.) along with how you’ll plan to organize your business (will you be the only staff member or do you plan to hire administrators, teachers and more?). You’ll also want to include information about how your center will be funded, where it will be located and how you’ll plan to promote it to prospective families.
We’re firm believers that there’s no such thing as a too-detailed business plan, so try to be as thorough as possible. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of templates and resources available online, including this one from the U.S. Small Business Association.
3. Invest in yourself (and any staff you plan on hiring).
When it comes to attracting new families, you and your staff are going to be one of the most important assets — so take the time to cultivate your own skills (and those of your staff) through training, professional development and networking.
Online training providers like ChildCare Education Institute offer a number of online courses and certification programs for early childhood educators. Consider taking courses on a variety of topics — from administration to early childhood development — so your knowledge base can be as well-rounded as possible.
In addition to training, we recommend joining professional associations and early childhood groups in your area. These are a great way to network and learn from other pros – and most also offer regular resources and/or training sessions for members.
4. Differentiate yourself from your competitors.
The childcare industry is competitive, so you’ll likely be one of many programs in your area. Before opening, think about ways you can make your childcare business stand out from the crowd. Maybe it’s incorporating innovative teaching methods or daily schedules (e.g.: taking students on weekly field trips, bringing in regular guest speakers). Maybe it’s offering services during hours that are typically overlooked, like before and after school.
Whatever it is, having something that sets you apart from the rest makes it easier to attract new families and take your program to the next level.
5. Ensure you’re prepared for the worst.
While owning a childcare business can be rewarding, there are also going to be tough times along the way. Before starting your program, take the time to prepare for any challenges that may come up, so that when the time comes, you can handle problems with ease. Think about developing a disaster or crisis management plan, along with health, safety, privacy and nutrition protocols.
You can also create templates for how staff should handle behavioral issues and plans for how frequently staff will be in contact with parents.
6. Actively market your center.
With so much to focus on, marketing can sometimes fall by the wayside. However, it’s important to ensure that actively getting the word out about your program is at the top of your checklist. If you’re not sure where to start on the marketing journey, check out our blog on the topic here.
7. Invest in management software.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your childcare business will run smoothly is to invest in tools that help streamline everyday operations. Childcare management apps like LifeCubby can automate tedious tasks (including attendance, daily sheets and billing) freeing up hours each day and giving you and your staff more time to focus on your students.
Plus, LifeCubby’s suite of innovative communication tools will help ensure families at your center are always in the know. Whether it’s through the interactive events calendar, the in-app live messaging or one of the countless other features, families will feel engaged and connected to your center — leading to a better experience for everyone.
Want to learn more about how LifeCubby can make starting (and running) a childcare business a breeze? Sign-up for a free demo today HERE!