So, you’ve decided to start a daycare center. Congrats! This is the beginning of an exciting new journey that will offer exciting new challenges and great rewards.
Starting a business of any kind is no easy task, and you’ll want to accept help and guidance along the way. The development of a business plan is a key portion of the planning process. It helps you organize your ideas, realize your goals and objectives and, ultimately, sets your business up for success.
How to Write a Business Plan for Your Daycare Center
Here we have put together a list of key elements to help write a successful business plan for your daycare center.
Do Your Research
The first step to developing a business plan for your daycare center is to do your research. Look at what your competitors are doing – think about what makes them successful and/or their pitfalls.
Do they have a unique mission statement? Does their staff follow a specific teaching philosophy? Realizing other daycares’ competitive advantages will help you identify any gaps that these centers are not filling.
You’ll also want to research the demographics of your area. What does a typical family in your area look like? In some areas it’s typical for both parents to work, but in others it’s not. You may also want to look into things like education level, religion, income level, how many children are in a typical family, as well as grandparent involvement and common values.
Will the values and interests of your daycare center be appealing to the families that surround it? Research is a huge part of creating a daycare business, and it’s something you’ll want to be thorough with before fully diving in.
Develop a Mission Statement
When you think about what you aspire your daycare to be, a lot of things likely come to mind. You have big dreams after all! However, it is important to start with the basics and develop a mission statement.
This should be a relatively simple vision you have for your center that can be shared on marketing collateral and is appealing to prospective parents. Whether it’s a focus on early childhood development or a particular teaching philosophy you believe in, you’ll want to present your mission statement boldly and confidently.
Once you develop a mission statement, it’s time to think about your other goals and objectives. But, what’s the difference between goals and objectives?
- Goals are something that is measurable – whether it’s a certain enrollment number or how much revenue you bring in after year one.
- Objectives are a little less numerical – they can be the values you hope to instill into your center like teaching children life sills like effective communication, how to share, and creating a nurturing environment.
Creating a clear mission statement and supporting goals and objectives is key to setting yourself up for success. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or unsure of the direction of your daycare center, check back in with your mission statement, goals and objectives to ground yourself
Look at Your Financials
Financials may not be the most fun part of starting a daycare business, but they are certainly important. While you may have the passion and expertise needed to fuel a new business, without the right financial standing, it’s hard to turn your dreams into a reality.
A common question you may ask yourself is, “How much does it cost to start a daycare?” While the number will certainly vary wildly depending on the area you live in and whether you are acquiring an already owned building or starting from scratch, experts say it will cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. Think about whether it’s realistic to start your daycare now or continue saving up until you’re ready – it’s a big investment!
For those who are just starting out and may not have that much financial experience, daycare software can be a huge help. It helps simplify paying your bills, easily track expenses, and handle budgeting - all from a single platform.
Use daycare software to maintain a record of your expense categories like classroom supplies, maintenance, utilities, and rent, and ensure that nothing gets lost and you’re always on budget. One expense gone wrong can have a huge impact on a new business, so keeping your data and information all in one place is highly recommended.
Develop Policies & Procedures
A successful business plan needs information about the daycare center’s policies and procedures. Policies and procedures are the foundation of a new business, and they are something you’ll want parents to have a firm understanding of.
To start with, think about developing a payment policy. This will entail things like how to handle late payments, billing schedules, and more.
It’s also important to take note of any licensing requirements for staff ratios and teachers’ educational backgrounds. Child care staff are subject to fingerprinting and background checks, so be sure to verify references and education levels.
Learn About Insurance
Insurance is a requirement for opening a licensed child care facility, and having it is essential for protecting both your business and your personal assets. While understanding insurance may not come naturally to everyone, there are a lot of resources on the internet and professionals willing to help.
Talk with a licensed insurance agent who’s familiar with local requirements to review your needs and recommend coverage terms and policies. And, if you plan on offering healthcare benefits to your employees, you’ll want to meet with a healthcare provider who can help with developing a plan.
Create a Marketing Plan
Here comes the fun part. What’s going to make your daycare center stand out among the competition? How are you going to get your name out into the community?
Start by deciding how you’ll raise awareness among potential customers. Maybe it’s participating in family-friendly community events in the area or listing your school in a local directory. You can even think about running a social media campaign to build awareness and reach new parents.
And as far as differentiating yourself from other daycares, consider implementing Procare’s all-in-one daycare solution designed to help manage your daycare and stay connected with parents.
For modern parents who are on the go, joining a daycare with a tech-savvy management system in place can be incredibly appealing. With the ability to make payments online, digitally check in/check out, and read about updates on their child throughout the day, this kind of software will definitely give you a leg up.
Creating a business plan for your daycare center is a lot of hard work, but it can also be exciting. You are at the beginning stage of making your dreams a reality and by organizing your ideas, policies, marketing plans, and more in a logical document, you are setting yourself up for success - and for a lot of future happy parents and children.
Ready for next steps? Learn more about how to successfully start a daycare.