Many people dream of opening a daycare center. In fact, child care center owners come from a wide variety of age groups, backgrounds and life experiences.
From young families to educators to business investors, the motivation for starting a daycare can vary from person to person. One common theme is the desire to care for and nurture children.
Joining the child care industry can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s a lengthy process--launching a daycare overnight isn’t possible. From the time you begin to think about starting your own daycare business to the moment you open your doors, you’ll need to do a lot of thinking and planning.
Procare Software was designed to assist child care providers in running their businesses. We’ve been doing just that since 1992. So, we know a thing or two about what it takes to be successful as a daycare center.
We’ve compiled the following checklist of the steps to take if you are starting a daycare.
Understanding what you hope to achieve from starting a child care center is an important first step in the process of turning your dream into a reality. You’ll want to consider both the personal and financial aspects of this decision.
Before you invest time and money into a new daycare business, you’ll want to do a ton of research. Plan to invest the hours of fact-finding this will require over several months.
What you learn in this investigation phase may change your initial vision and you may need to adjust the size or scale of your business. That is exactly why this step is so critical.
For many people, what they find during this stage energizes them and motivates them to charge ahead with their vision.
Determine your state and local requirements for operating a licensed daycare center.
Understand the target audience: parents of young children.
What’s the right neighborhood for your new business?
Once you’ve completed your initial review of requirements for starting a new daycare business, you’re ready to start hone in on the location and style of child care center you want to open. Start by reviewing existing child care providers in your target area(s), including home-based and center-based as well as individually owned and franchised locations. You want to figure out how your business will fit into the current market and identify areas where you can differentiate your business.
The key to encouraging families to choose your child care center over others is to provide something that competitors do not. Think in terms of overall value--parents aren’t necessarily looking for the least expensive provider. They want safety first, and then will look for elements of the program that are different or better.
Choosing your business name is one of the more fun aspects of starting a daycare center. This is a chance to be creative and add meaning to your business. You may start with a long list that you need to narrow down, or you may have a name in mind. In either case, keep in mind the following tips:
Having a written business plan is a must, as it will help you to both start and run your daycare center. Think of it as a roadmap that will detail where you’re going and how you’ll get there.
The good news is that much of the research you’ve gathered in the above steps will be used in developing your business plan.
This foundational document is necessary no matter the size of your business. Even if you plan to operate your daycare from your home, you still need a business plan, although it may be a bit less formal than others.
Lenders and potential partners will want to review your plan and The Small Business Administration (SBA) has several online resources to assist you in creating a plan for your business, including templates and example plans.
The SBA also has a huge network of local mentors and classes that can help you to develop your plan and operate your business. Find a local resource here.
Given the extensive list of rules and regulations and licensing requirements you’ll need to meet in order to operate your child care business, you’ll want to consult an attorney for assistance.
Meeting with your bank or other financial advisory firm will help you to decide how you’ll structure the funding of your child care center.
Not only is insurance a requirement in order to operate a licensed child care facility, it’s critical to protect both your business and personal assets.
After completing the competitive review of daycare providers in your area, you’ll have identified one or more possible areas in which to set up your business. Beyond finding the right zip code, you need to decide what type of building makes sense.
Choosing the right child care staff is critical to your success. Here are just a few questions to consider:
You’ll have several decisions to make regarding the type of care you will provide. Consider the following:
If you’re a parent, you know that children require a sometimes mind-boggling list of “stuff” that you never considered before bringing home your first child. With a daycare, you’ll be multiplying those needs to fit the number of children in your care. Here’s a list of some of the items you’ll need:
Consider how you plan to feed the children in your care. You’ll likely have several different age groups to consider.
When choosing a child care management business solution it’s important to find an all-in-one solution that not only tackles classroom tasks like attendance and meal counts and ratios but one that will help your business grow with financial tools and employee management. Procare Software solutions is the most robust child care management tools on the market today. From parent engagement apps to payment collection, securely stored family information and a host of other resources. No other solution out there covers you from the classroom to the back office, saving you and your staff time and energy so you can focus on growing your business and spending more time with the kids at your center.
The planning that goes into starting a daycare center can be overwhelming - let’s face it, that’s a pretty exhausting list. However, taking the time to work through the checklist will provide a solid framework that allows you to build a thriving daycare center.
Once your business is established, you’ll have a whole new list checklist of items to provide high quality care and manage your finances. Procare Software can help by providing tools and services to automate and organize administrative and business functions at your daycare center.
Still looking for more information? Be sure to check out these Procare resources:
If you are interested in further coverage of these topics, here’s a list of recent Procare blogs that you may find helpful:
Want to learn more about our child care management software and how it can benefit your daycare? Contact us today.
Child Care Aware includes a number of resources for child care providers, including legal checklists, and a list of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.
The Small Business Administration has a free guide, How To Start a Quality Child Care Business.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children is a membership organization for early learning professionals.
Child Care Exchange offers multiple training resources.
Child Care Marketing Solutions, led by industry expert Kris Murray offers several marketing tools and educational sessions.
The National Early Childhood Program Accreditation offers accreditation for child care center directors, administrators and professionals.
The Complete Checklist for Starting a Child Care Center