What does it take to be successful in child care?
Obviously, you should have a deep & passionate desire to take care of children, a huge amount of patience, and the ability to juggle several tasks at once (such as warming a bottle while helping toddlers with an art project).
It also helps if you have a separate space in your home, such as a finished basement, where you can run your child care business.
But as if that isn’t enough, there are many things that a successful home daycare owner needs to be good at besides caring for children. Honestly, it can be quite daunting.
Things like getting paid on time from parents, writing solid policies & contracts, marketing your business to new potential clients, obtaining the right insurance policy, understanding record-keeping and how it affects your taxes, and overall, just getting started in a manner that will optimize success.
To help you get started more successfully, here are seven of the biggest, costliest mistakes women make when starting their own home-based child care business, and how to avoid them.
BIG MISTAKE #1: Not doing the proper research on the child care market in your town or city.
This is a crucial step that many new child care business owners miss, usually because they’re not sure how to go about it. Or they may think that it’s not really necessary to do the research, because they don’t understand how it could impact them.
After all, it’s just a small home-based business, right? Why do you need to do all that extra work up-front?
The goal here is not to spend weeks or months completing some huge market research project that you’re not ever going to use.
I’m talking about spending a few hours over the next few days, calling around (or maybe visiting some other child care businesses) and asking key questions.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. My neighbor Mary, who runs a child care business in her home, discovered a couple things about our local market that helped her create a more profitable business. The first thing was, our town has ½-day Kindergarten, not full-day. By talking to other Moms in our town, Mary found there was a need in our town for “before-and-after care”, that is someone who could watch Kindergarteners & older kids before and after school. She structured her daycare to fill this need. All she had to do was make sure the buses were able to pick up & drop off these kids at her home, and she was able to start taking kids.
So what you want to uncover, when you do your upfront research, is a “pocket of unfulfilled need” in terms of child care. You don’t need it to be a huge pocket, but something unique about your business that will bring you customers who have that need.
Other examples of this are:
– offering second or third shift care if you have large companies in your town who employ people on evening or overnight shifts
– offering bilingual care or special languages, such as sign language for babies
– offering special meals (such as organic or vegetarian) if you live in a town where that would be considered desirable (like Boulder, Colorado or a similar college town)
Again, you are asking key questions and trying to uncover an unfulfilled need in your town or city. You can begin by calling your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency (CCR&R), your local elementary schools, talking to neighbors and friends, and visiting other child care businesses in your town. You can even call other home child care businesses and talk to these women about what they are seeing in the market. Usually, women in child care help each other out by forming friendships and partnerships, so don’t be intimidated.
By taking the time to do the research, you will gain a huge advantage by understanding your market and how you can be successful within that market.
BIG MISTAKE #2: Not getting the right liability protection for you and your business.
If you want to be able to sleep easy at night and not worry about getting sued, you’ll need to be properly covered. You need the real scoop on what type of insurance to buy, and how much it should cost, so you don’t overpay.
Many new child care business owners make the mistake of thinking that their homeowner’s policy is enough to cover them if there’s a problem. But the truth is, that policy usually doesn’t provide enough protection, nor the right kind of protection you need for special situations that a daycare owner can face.
An example of this situation would be if your house had a power outage, and you had to close …