The Childcare Act came into force in September 2017, and now three and four-year-olds with working parents in England (there are different schemes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) will be entitled to 1,140 hours of government-funded childcare each year. This is the equivalent of almost 22 hours a week. The act has increased the need for childcare jobs significantly, as the Government estimates that around 390,000 children will be eligible for this entitlement.
While childcare is always in demand, you could consider starting your own childcare business. This way, you get the joy of working with children with the added benefits that come from being the boss.
Setting up a childcare business
But how do you go about starting a childcare business? Well, it helps if you’ve worked in childcare before, as you'll have an understanding of whether you have the patience and passion for working with children on a full-time basis.
Once you’re sure you’ve got what it takes, you should ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I physically fit?
Looking after children may not appear to be physically demanding, but always being on your feet can take its toll. A typical day will see you carrying children, pushing prams up and down stairs, picking up toys, being the horse in games of ‘be the jockey', and much more. All of this will require you to be fit and healthy.
If you’re unable to carry out physical tasks, you may be risking the safety of the children in your care – at the most extreme end of the scale, you’ll need to be able to run after toddlers who are about to put themselves in danger. Also, parents will be able to trust you more if you appear to be physically fit, so you’ll get more customers if you take care of yourself.
2. Is there a demand for these services in my local area?
There's no point starting a childcare business if there are already plenty of similar organisations in your local area. It's vital that you do research to identify who your competitors are and whether you can differentiate yourself from them.
You should also try to find out how many children requiring childcare live in your area. Do you live in an area popular with young families? Or are you based in more of a ‘student-y’ district? Perhaps the principal demographic is OAPs. Obviously, your business will not be sustainable if you have no children to take care of, so make sure there’s sufficient demand in the local area.
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3. Where will I work?
Once you’ve chosen an ideal area, you’ll need to think about the building you’ll use. Do you plan to run your childcare business from home or rent premises to keep your work separate from your home life?
If you’re planning to be home-based, you need to think about whether your home is appropriate. It may not be large enough, or it might need alterations to make it safe or suitable for children. Childproofing your home may come at a considerable cost or include changes that you and your family are not willing to make. If this is the case, you’ll need to find a business premises.
If this is the case, you need to make sure your new site meets the required criteria. As well as safety, location is essential. Being positioned near local schools or offices will make it easier for parents to drop off their child after the school run or on the way to work. Parking facilities are also a must. If possible, you should try to find a property with outdoor space. This way, children will be able to play outside, get fresh air and use up some energy before their parents come to collect them.
4. How many children can I legally care for?
If you choose to run your business from home, the number of children you can care for depends on their age. Guidelines state that childminders can look after up to six children under the age of eight. Of these, a maximum of three can be under the age of five and only one can be less than 12 months old.
If the demand in your area indicates that more parents would be interested in using your services, you could create childcare jobs and recruit more childminders so the adult to child ratio is not compromised. If you decide to take this route, acquiring a suitable premises may be a better option than setting your business up at home.
5. Am I registered?
The registration process to work with children can be complex and time-consuming, and there are a number of criteria you must meet to become Ofsted-approved. Firstly, you’ll need to attend an introductory course on childminding and a paediatric first aid course before you apply to Ofsted. Once completed you’ll need to pay a registration fee.
There are several mandatory checks that need to be carried out too. These include a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) and a medical check. Your home or business premises will also be visited by Ofsted to check the suitability of the property to complete the registration process.
6. Should I franchise?
Setting up your own business from scratch can be expensive and stressful. You’ll need to ensure you’ve got the right qualifications and certificates, come up with a brand identity and build a loyal customer base over time. But there is a way to make the process easier.
You could choose to invest in one of the many franchise opportunities available. That way, you'll be able to benefit from operating under an established brand name and business model. You’ll receive all the training and support you need to get your business off the ground, and you should already have the trust of local customers. This means you can get your childcare business up and running much quicker than if you were to go it alone.
Browse the opportunities currently available in childcare franchises. You’ll be able to find out their investment levels, provided training and joining criteria.
Childcare franchises to get involved in
There are many childcare franchise opportunities if you're passionate about helping children develop and grow.
Banana Moon is a pre-school franchise that specialises in day care for children between the ages of three months and five years. As a franchisee, you’ll receive all the equipment necessary to cater for 36 children including books, toys, furniture and even high-tech items such as touchscreen TVs and handheld devices for the children to use.
Gymboree offers music and play for new-born babies up to children of five years old. When you join the franchise, you’ll get patented lesson plans and all the equipment, apparatus and instruments you need to start the business, along with training, coaching and support before and during your franchise journey.
Part-time childcare franchises
Childcare jobs are often fairly flexible, allowing you to set your own hours to fit in with your existing commitments. Part-time franchises take this a step further, giving you even more time to relax and unwind.
Sherpa Kids, for example, runs before and after-school clubs and holiday activities for primary school-aged children. It provides safe, structured, engaging and enjoyable activity-based programmes, including arts and crafts, music and drama, sports, cooking and technology.
Become a day care franchisee today…
If you’re passionate about working with children, there’s bound to be a franchise that suits your interests, budget and work requirements. Browse our directory to find your perfect venture.
Once you’ve decided on the direction you want to take your business, you’ll need to write a business plan. This is a comprehensive run-down of your ideas, objectives and financial information. You’ll need to write down where you intend to set up your business, how it’ll operate and whether you’ll employ any staff. Describe your brand identity and note down how you’ll get word of your business out in the local community. You’ll also need to include financial projections; what’s your initial investment and when do you expect to break even?
Your business plan must be watertight if it’s to impress lenders. You’ll only be able to secure funding if the bank or organisation sees promise in your venture, so carry out extensive research to ensure you’re making the right decisions.
If you choose to become a franchisee, you’ll need to sign a franchise contract once you’ve written your business plan and secured funding. This can be a long and complicated document, and it’s legally binding, so you’ll want to make sure you understand it completely before you put pen to paper. Don’t be afraid to hire a solicitor or other franchise professional to look over the contract and explain any jargon in it. They’ll be able to highlight any red flags and make sure you’re in the best position to make an informed decision. Only when you’ve done this can you sign with confidence.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©