If you’re thinking of starting a new childcare business in the UK, there’s a lot you need to consider before opening your doors. Read three things you need to do get right from the start.
Whether you are striking out on your own after a career spent honing your experience in other establishments, or trying to set a new idea into action, starting a childcare business of your own has the potential to be an undeniably rewarding venture.
But like many new enterprises, there are many areas to consider before throwing the doors open to your tiny charges. A cast-iron business plan and a strategy that leaves no stone unturned are musts, as are thorough market research and an experienced manager fronting up a team of high-quality staff, who all share your vision for the nursery.
From making sure you tick every box on the legal checklist, to equipping your nursery with the right supplies, the care of young children is one sector where you can’t afford to take shortcuts.
Starting a childcare business? Three things you need to do
To help you get started, business writer Patrick Vernon shares three important things you need to do when starting a childcare business.
1) Work out your finances
As with any business, the cost of running a nursery will depend on a variety of factors. The hours of business, location, premises, equipment and, of course, the staff you hire, will all have a bearing on your initial outlay.
Then there are the everyday running costs, such as:
- Energy bills.
- Insurance policies.
- Disposable resources, including art and craft supplies and nappies.
Having a detailed idea of what a childcare business will cost puts you in a position to create a strong business plan and, critically, set your fees appropriately from the outset.
Once your business case is made, it’s time to consider the options to help you raise the capital needed to get started. Consider how much of your own finances you are willing (and able) to invest in the business. You can also raise equity funds by offering shares in your company.
Then there are bank loans and business start-up packages. And finally, if you can meet the strict criteria demanded by many of them, there is funding available from:
- NHS Trusts
- The Childcare Business Grants Scheme
- Virgin StartUp
- Social Investment Business
- Local Enterprise Partnerships
2) Understand the law
To make sure that legal standards are being followed, any new childcare business must register with a regulatory body. England, Scotland and Wales each have their own watchdogs.
- In England: In order to become a recognised childcare provider in England, you must register with Ofsted. You must also comply with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which safeguards the welfare standards for the care and development of children aged up to five. You can download a copy of the EYFS from the Foundation Years website.
- In Scotland: The Care Inspectorate is the organisation responsible for childcare in Scotland and is the body you need to register. You must also follow the National Care Standards, which covers early years development, as well as all childcare up to the age of 16. Search for those at gov.scot.
- In Wales: You must register your nursery with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate in Wales, and you must comply with the National Minimum Standards for Full Day Care as detailed on gov.uk.
3) Find the right staff
This will probably be one of the most challenging aspects of getting your nursery up and running. As well as the personal qualities that will stand your business apart, you also need to make sure that:
- Staff have all the correct and relevant qualifications for the job they are recruited to do.
- You carry out Disclosure and Barring Scheme (DBS) checks for all potential team members before their employment begins.
- You meet child-to-staff ratios, as outlined in the regulatory standards listed above.
Need more advice and ongoing support to help you start and grow a successful business? Find out how our club Kickstart can help.Patrick Vernon