Know Thy Staff: getting to know your team

Know Thy Staff: getting to know your team

This week I’m zoning in on why it’s super important for you as a childcare business owner to “know thy staff”. You might think you know them a little already – because you hired them – right? But how well do you really know them? And what do you do to ensure you’re getting the very best out of every single member of your team?

Over the many years that I’ve been running and growing my daycare centers, I am constantly learning that it is a vital part of my role as a business owner. I need to be appreciating the variety of my team members’ backgrounds and embracing all their quirks! Celebrating their unique approach to their work, and supporting them where they need to up their game.

None of this is easy, but I highly recommend taking more notice of your staff. Get to know them and help them flourish! I’m going to explain a bit more about why you need to do this to grow your business, but also how you can do this!

One size doesn’t fit all

When you carry out your interviews for team members, I bet that you look for specific skills, don’t you? You’re not looking for a cookie-cutter childcare worker. You’re hoping to find the team member with the abilities your team are currently missing. So what happens once you’ve found that person? Do you hire them and expect them to be like everyone else?

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I implore you to take a look at the staff you’ve recently employed. What training have you offered them? Was it generic training – a one size fits all approach – or did you tailor it to suit their individual needs? This would be a great opportunity to do a skills audit and find out where the gaps are. Professional development is only useful and worth the time and money if there’s learning taking place!

(I just want to point out that it’s funny really, because – as childcare and education specialists – we pride ourselves on our ability to differentiate the learning for the babies in our care…but when it comes to our staff, we rarely do the same. Interesting to note, isn’t it? We should be paving the way for other industries, not doing what they all do!)

All walks of life

I bet that your team are as varied as the plants in your local park! Have you taken time to truly appreciate their backgrounds and unique experiences? Perhaps you could look back over their applications and resumes, or have an informal chat with each team member to figure out how best you can accommodate their needs and demonstrate an appreciation of their individual pathways into childcare.

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Get to know your staff and really show them that variety is the spice of life and that you embrace it all! Be inclusive and ensure everyone feels welcome and supported in their journey with you in your business. Valuing your team members for where they’ve come from shows that you truly care about them, and those things shine through to families interested in your services.

Know thy staff to help them

Once you’ve made an effort to get to know your staff you can then help them more. This could be in the simplest form of training opportunities. For example, if you have staff that also happen to be parents, you might want to consider ways you can help them in order that they can be both brilliant parents but also a superstar childcare practitioner in your daycare. What adjustments can you make to help them, which in turn will help you.

Something simple and easily achieved is that you could look into putting all your trainings online. By creating digital training videos, you are saying to those team members with kids (or other caring responsibilities) that you appreciate that they’ve got priorities outside your facility, and that you care, but that you also want to help them grow their skill set.  And by making things easier for them to access from home, you’re signalling this to them! They can watch at home, but still ask questions via an app like Slack to clarify things. It truly is the little things that make a difference.

So get to know them, take time to observe them. Be open and flexible. You want them to do their job better, but they won’t get there if you don’t notice what they need first.

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Tools for getting the best from your staff

When it comes to enabling your team to their best, there’s three things that immediately pop into my head.

  1. The directions and instruction they need to get the job done. This is where your leadership matters. Steering your team along the right path, but knowing when to back off and let them shine. Trust is a huge factor here too.
  2. The physical resources that they need to perform their role well. For example, something as simple as crayons or curriculum sheets, or perhaps iPads for recording observations and notes, or play equipment.
  3. The soul – how you relate to your teams. Build a reciprocal and valuable relationship with staff.

This third point matters a lot. Because the way we deliver criticism is important. This in itself is a really useful tool. And just like any tool from your garage, you need to utilize it in a way that will get the job done well!

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So, when you’re offering a critique, do it in a useful and constructive way so that they can learn from their mistakes. For example, I would point out something they’ve done well first, before highlighting something that needs work. And then cushion the blow with another positive. So you’ve given them a learning point but haven’t totally demoralized them in the process.

You want them to come away from your correction feeling like they understand the point you’re making. It’s all about encouraging and making learning a positive experience – just like we do with the kids, right?! Staff should be able to receive your critique and feel empowered to move forward, not like they should pack up their things and leave.

Finally, by knowing your staff really well, you can really support them in their journey to becoming the rock stars they’re destined to be in your childcare business! And a rock star team = customers who rave about your business! And that’s what we’re all aiming for, right?! When you know thy staff, you can grow your business into the successful vision you know it can be.

I hope you’ve found this blog super helpful. If you have, share it with a friend!

Also, if you liked this, I wonder whether you’ve found the Childcare Ninja Facebook group yet? We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup! Interested in becoming a part of the community? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!

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Stay true to you: Marketing like a ninja

Stay true to you: Marketing like a ninja

When you’re marketing your childcare business, do you stay true to your values? I’ve witnessed so many childcare owners who feel they can’t be themselves while they’re wearing their business hats. So I want to dive into this a little more in this blog.

It’s often said that opposites attract, but when it comes to business I’m not convinced. Over the last decade I’ve found that this isn’t true. Actually, it’s been quite the contrary in my experience and those businesses I’ve supported through mentoring and coaching.

I’m going to share with you how things began to change for my business and my clients when we’ve stayed true to what we believe in. And why I’ll be encouraging you to do the same…

What does stay true to yourself mean?

Sounds a bit wishy-washy doesn’t it, “staying true to yourself”? So what am I talking about? Well, what I mean is your values. The absolute non-negotiables in how you run your business. My own values are based on family, faith, hard work and commitment. All of them are vital ingredients to my day-to-day work and the way I lead in my daycares and in Childcare Ninjas.

What do they look like for you and your childcare business? Write down the values that you couldn’t function without.

What happens when you don’t stay true to yourself?

When you ignore what you believe, and don’t wear your heart on your sleeve, you business is misaligned with your purpose. This means that you’re leaving a part of yourself at the door when you got to work, which takes a lot of energy. Hiding a large portion of your personality or values isn’t healthy and can cause a lot of resentment.

I used to keep my faith hidden, as if it were not an essential part of my life. I didn’t talk about it, and I worried about sharing my beliefs with colleagues, families and employees. And when I was hiding a huge piece of my puzzle, I didn’t feel whole and I was not coming across as authentic. Which then had an impact on my success as a business owner, because people aren’t stupid. They know when something isn’t right.

And due to the misalignment I was portraying, the families who were coming to my doors weren’t the ideal clients I was wanting. Eventually it got to the point where it felt too important to leave my values out of my brand. I couldn’t hold it all back any more. My sense of purpose was renewed: I knew things had to change.

Soak it up

When you allow your business to marinade in your values, it soaks it all up! Your business benefits massively from having some depth and purpose, which comes from the beliefs you uphold. Just like me and my Christian faith. Once I allowed myself to share my beliefs and no longer hid them away, I found that I was attracting people whose views aligned with mine. They felt comfortable entrusting their babies to me because I demonstrated values they themselves believed in.

I’ve now built two successful businesses on the foundations of my faith and I’m proud of the fact that my values are so ingrained in every ounce of my little empire!

Getting the message right

I’m not saying you need to sing your faith from the rooftops, or start handing out pamphlets about your beliefs to parents. You don’t need to hammer your beliefs home to your families, merely embody the values you hold in the running of your business.

I mentioned that my values include commitment. Every day in my work I model this value in the way I support my families and go the extra mile to meet their needs. I am fully committed to being the best in the game and to making sure the kids in my daycare centers have the time of their lives while also learning!

How I market my business is the same. Not by writing all over my marketing materials about what my beliefs are, but instead demonstrating my values through the photos we use or the copy I write. I focus on the importance of family – my story – and the hard work of my teams and our commitment to the children and families we work with. I also give a nod to my faith in the quotes I have on the walls of my office, or in the cross I wear to work. It’s who I am. Something I can’t believe I used to hide!

The message isn’t always in the way you market, it’s in the crafting of your brand messaging and the way you grow brand awareness. And it’s really important that you get this right sooner than I did! When you nail your messaging, it gives families who work with you an awareness and understanding of who you are! And by doing so…

…You’ll call in the families you want to serve!

So in changing the way I do things, by being my authentic self and leaving nothing in the porch as I step into my business owner role, I am calling in the people I want to work with. I want to work with families who share the same values and beliefs that I hold dear to me.

When you attract those families, it makes relationships run much more smoothly because you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. They’ll know you and trust you, and will feel comfortable handing their little treasures over to you. And they’ll also stand behind you because they share your values and beliefs.

Share who you are

Basically, what I’m encouraging you to do is stop hiding who you really are. Don’t try to please everyone for the sake of it. And never be afraid of sharing your core values. These are the things that make you YOU. And those are the reasons people will seek you out.

So go ahead! Share you – the real you! The families who your values speak to will adore you and want to have you and your business in their lives. I know, because sharing my faith and my other core beliefs made such an impact on my business growth and also a huge change in my own well-being.

 

What’s stopping you from staying true to you? How can you quit hiding and instead grow into your purpose? I’d love to know. Leave a comment or head to the Childcare Ninja Facebook group to discuss.  Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be!

While you’re here, are you in the Childcare Ninja membership yet? We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!  It’s full of exclusive resources and support to help you grow your Childcare Business.

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Fabulous Finance Week – income streams

Fabulous Finance Week – income streams

This week in Childcare Ninjas, we’re shining a light on finance again. It’s a subject that we’re not going to shy away from, because it’s vital that we feel confident discussing finances! And I want to support you as a Childcare Ninja in this area as much as any other. If you’re new to the industry, you’ll want to read this blog post!

When it comes to initially setting up your childcare business, you might not be ready to go all in just yet. You might need to spend some time raising funds so you can open up the daycare center of your dreams.

What I want to emphasize here is that you shouldn’t be letting finances get in your way. It might take you a little longer to reach your goals, but you CAN get there. I have seen financials hold so many women back from starting a business and I don’t want that to happen to you.

So, in this blog I’m going to share a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. I’m going to get you flexing your resourcefulness muscles!

What are your needs?

First things first, you’ve got to take a look at how much you need to actually get set up. This might seem minimal to begin with, but once you take into account the rent, the health and safety aspects, the registration, the licences, the insurance…it all adds up. So be honest with yourself here. Keep it real: are you currently in a position to set up immediately?

Maybe you’re beginning in your home, which will reduce the cost in the short term. Even so, there’s the equipment you’ll need, the additional costs of utilities (amazing how those little kids use up all that extra electricity and water!)…

But I’m not saying this to get you to stop! Far from it! I’m asking you to take a good long look at your needs in a financial sense, because I want you to succeed! I want you to know exactly what you’ve got to have in place before you can launch into your childcare business. And if you’ve got any questions or don’t know where to start, please drop me an email! After 14 years in the business, I’m happy to help!

So how can you raise the money to get started?

We’ve established that you’re likely to need more cash coming in before you can really dive deep into your childcare ownership dreams, so how are you going to do this exactly?

Honestly? This comes down to how much money you have and how much time. Finances play a part here too because there are some income streams that require a little investment before you can get going and others that you can just jump straight into with out much thought!

childcare ninjas how to get to 6 figures

Become a representative

Not in the House (one day, maybe…!), I’m talking about buying into a scheme where you’re the representative of a brand. These roles offer a range of opportunities, from flexible working and franchises, to direct selling and party planning.

There are a number of these that can be lucrative for people who have time and a small amount for buying the products for demonstrations. Beauty companies like Avon, Mary Kay or Arbonne  have a fairly low investment requirement to become a representative.

So those are options for you if you have a little cash to reap rewards with. However, I’ve got a few more ideas if you don’t!

Everyone has something that everyone else needs!

This is what I tell the women I coach. They’ll often say, “But Nyckie, I haven’t got anything to offer. How on earth can I have a side hustle going on?” And I am quick to remind them that they certainly do have things to offer. Whether that’s a resource that their community is lacking (like reliable transport) or a skill they can see a need for (gardening!) each and every one of us has something that their neighborhood needs.

Take an audit of your resources

Take a look around your home and figure out if you have resources at your fingertips that could earn you some of the funds you need for your business.

Perhaps you’ve got a car and are happy to be driving to make some side hustle money. You could do some Uber driving in the evenings when your partner gets in from work. Or perhaps if you know there’s people in your community who’d rather pay you than Uber to drive them to and from appointments, then get driving! Drum up interest and bring in those dollars!

Have you got furniture that could go to a new home, or a ton of dresses sat unworn in your wardrobe? Kids finished playing their consoles or moved on to the next craze? Why not have a yard sale?

Start something from scratch

If you’ve got skills that you could utilize, then why not put them up on Fiverr or Upwork? If you’ve got admin capabilities or can write, or maybe you’re handy with a camera, then put up a page and watch the requests come rolling in. When you’ve got skills other people need, you’re valuable and it will help your finances!

piano lessons passion into action

Perhaps you can offer tutoring for local families, or teach piano? Know how to grow vegetables? Maybe you’re a whizz with a chainsaw? Think about the dormant skills you could put to good use!

Make the most of what you’ve got!

I’ve mentioned skills above, but it really is about making the most of what you’ve got and flying with it! Take a look around your local community and look at what’s missing. What are people moaning about? Have you got friends with elderly parents who need healthy meals but can’t cook anymore? Could you cook them nutritious food and charge for it? You could start a small take away service. (Don’t go crazy here! It’s a childcare business we’re aiming for, right?! Not a restaurant!)

Choosing a way of bringing in some extra money means you can rest easy knowing that you’ll raise the dollars you need. Thinking about your finances and making some cash in a side hustle is a sensible move to avoiding stress.

I’d love to help you more with ideas that’ll solve the gaps in your finances, and I’m so excited to see you achieve success, so why not head here and you can download my FREE Side Hustle Checklist!

If you’d like to see more like this and chat with other childcare business owners, I wonder whether you’d like to head over here: Childcare Ninja Facebook group!  Join us for more tips – not just on finances! – on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be!

While you’re here, are you in the Childcare Ninja membership yet? We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!  It’s full of exclusive resources and support to help you grow your Childcare Business.

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Why you need to stop wishing and start doing!

Why you need to stop wishing and start doing!

This week I’m focusing on mindset and my mantra is “stop wishing and start doing”. Because this is where the change starts: with you. It begins with you pressing pause on making wish lists and vision boards (not altogether! Just for now!) and getting some plans in place to achieve the goals you’ve set yourself.

In this blog you’re going to find some tips on why it’s important to take action, not just sit there waiting and wishing for good things to happen. The universe can be magical, and I know manifesting is a thing…but things don’t just occur and the universe is not going to chase you. You’ve gotta put things in motion and make moves that show you’re ready to receive!

Start with a daily check-in

Every day, on your way to work it’s the perfect time to check in with yourself. Reflect on where you’re at in terms of your mindset. Are you feeling positive and ready to level up? Or are you feeling anxious and stuck? However you’re feeling, you’ve got to start by acknowledging it and then sitting with that feeling.

So check your mindset at the door. Notice if there’s anything blocking you from succeeding or reaching your goals. Is there a task you’ve been putting off or a person that’s holding you back? If so, what can you do right now to solve that problem? Try to think outside the box and be creative about moving forward.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Did you know that the average millionaire has seven different streams of income? 7?! That’s a whole lot of trial and error, isn’t it? Imagine how many beta tests they must’ve done before settling on those various ideas. And do you want to know the reason for their success? (Now’s not the time to discuss privilege by the way…but we’ll try to do that soon!) The clue is in the subheading…

These people have achieved success because although they might be terrified they’ve bitten the bullet and had a go anyway. They’ve taken action, even when they’ve been scared. And this comes down to a realization that failing is the worst that can happen. And actually that’s not as bad as people make out. Everyone makes mistakes. Failures happen. It’s how we deal with those moments that matters.

The Blame Game

Hands up if you play the blame game with yourself? I know I used to be guilty of this more than I like to admit. My favorite thing to blame was time. I was always saying “I just don’t have the time to do the things I know will help me reach those goals”. Or “I’m so busy I can’t possibly make time for that right now”. Looking back, I can see that what I actually did with my time was procrastination when I should’ve been spending time leveling up my business.

First off: there’s always time. Everyone has the same amount of hours in their day. Every person on this planet only has 24 hours a day. If you want to make money and be successful, you need to think of your time as a limited resource and spend it wisely. Yes, finances and not having to work two or three jobs makes a difference, but even the busiest people get stuff done! In fact doesn’t the saying go, “if you want something done, ask a busy person”?

If you’re not sure what you’re spending time on, I highly recommend checking your screen time. It’s always quite shocking to see how much time you’re spending on social media, your emails, etc, and deciding whether those things are a good use of your precious time. (NEWSFLASH: They’re not!)

Get Your Priorities Straight

Turns out that – back in the day – what I was seemingly incapable of was prioritizing. I would tell myself the lie “I’m too busy to do that” or “I’ve not got the time to focus on growing my business”. When actually what I meant was “growing my business isn’t a priority”. There comes a time when you have to make a choice and prioritize the things that really matter.

So how do you move past this? How do you stop telling yourself these lies and make the right choice for you and your business? How do you know what to prioritize?

If it’s important, you need to change and prioritize. You’ve got to choose where to begin. Here’s some ideas…

Break your goals into chunks

Take a look at your vision board and the goals you want to reach with your business. Break each one of them down into baby steps. Now you’ve got those, make a plan of how you can tackle each of them. What do you need to do that? Do you need to invest in some training?  A course? How about a coach?

It’s time to stop wishing and start doing! C’mon, Ninjas!

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Find time

Each week, put aside some time in your diary to work on those baby steps you’ve planned out. Make a decision to prioritize that task. It doesn’t matter if you only take minuscule steps. As long as you’re moving forward and making progress, that’s what counts!

By putting the task in your diary, and blocking out the time you’re telling your brain that this is important. That this is a priority for you. You’re less likely to get sidetracked or make excuses if you’ve put it in your diary! Doing this frees you from overwhelm while allowing you to progress on goals!

Another idea is to put it on the communal calendar! By doing that you’re also signaling to your team and your family that this is essential to your growth and you’re busy up-leveling. Great leadership and role modelling!

Get laser-focused

Now you’ve carved out time in your week and have a set of tasks that lead to achieving your goal, it’s time to knuckle down and get focused. Where are you going to work best? Wherever you choose, shut your door and take a deep breath. This is optimal focus time! You can get into the right frame of mind and work on your prioritized tasks.

In conclusion, it’s important that you recognize how vital time to work on your goals is. Getting in the right mindset will allow you to step up your action. No more excuses. No more blaming your lack of time. It’s time to take responsibility for your future and stop wishing and start doing!

I hope you’ve found this blog super helpful. If you have, share it with a friend!

Also, if you liked this, I wonder whether you’ve found the Childcare Ninja Facebook group yet? We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup! Interested in becoming a part of the community? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!

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Leadership in your Childcare Business

Leadership in your Childcare Business

When it comes to leadership in your childcare business, it’s really important that you let your team see you leading through service. You’re not just a body in an office, sending them instructions, you’re a human being who cares and wants their team to feel that.

But what does this sort of leadership really look like?

As someone who’s been leading like this for a long time, I wanted to share with you some ideas – about developing your leadership and building your team – that have worked well for me. So read on if you want to help your staff be the best they can be, while also growing your childcare business into the successful, profitable enterprise it deserves to be.

Let’s get started…

Serving your team through leadership

The idea behind this style of leadership is that by serving your team, you’re demonstrating that you care. You’re helping them become the most efficient and effective members of the crew, and that benefits everyone. They want to see you leading in an inclusive and honest way. So give them what they want! Set up systems that welcome their ideas and contributions.

As a leader in the community, don’t pull up the ladder on your way up, pull your team up with you as you grow. Show them that they too can be leaders.

Environment

I’m not talking about the displays (y’all know that is important!) because today’s focus is on leadership. But part of this is creating an environment where everyone who works there feels valued, seen and cared for. They want to feel supported by you and their colleagues. Be a role model. If you’re having a hard time, share your struggles (I mean, don’t over share, right?!) so they can watch and learn how to be resilient and handle challenges with grace as I’m sure you do by now.

In my childcare businesses, I’m proud of the fact that my team are pretty much part of my family. We spend so much time together that we support each other through thick and thin. When we have issues, we talk it out instead of muttering under our breath or getting frustrated bottling it all up. All of this is leadership.

Be there for them

A bit like the song in F.R.I.E.N.D.S., demonstrate that you’re always there to support your team. Make sure your communication is tight, so they know if they’ve got a problem, they can come straight to you. There’s nothing worse than when a member of the team doesn’t feel they can ask a question or bring up something that has happened. It brews resentment from both sides. And that’s not good for business.

You want the team to rally round you and your business, so rally round them. Build their loyalty and trust. Talk to them openly about your expectations, and be clear with your boundaries. And don’t be afraid to be human with them. It shows strength in your leadership.

Staff Meetings

This is a great opportunity for you to show that you respect and value your team. Put an end to meetings for meetings sake. There’s really no need. Fitting in whole team meetings is so tough when you’ve got multiple shift patterns to negotiate. Often the only day that suits some is a Saturday (unless, like me, your business is 24/7…) and that’s a lot to ask your employees, to give up their free time to come into work and sit through a meeting, only to have to go home again.

So why not move them online? We have the technology! Let’s make the most of it! Moving your staff meetings to Zoom or Teams or another platform allows you to conduct meetings and give some flexibility and freedom to your team. By demonstrating courtesy and showing them understanding in your leadership, you’ll build trust. Let them join from wherever they happen to be – comfort of their own home, a cafe, a resources room at the library.

Another plus of online meetings is that you can record them. So if a team member can’t make it – not only do you have a record of who attended – they can catch up on what they missed and your team have the opportunity to re-watch if they want to. Recordings also double up as evidence to show inspectors or any other interested bodies that you have great communication with your staff.

 

Training

Obviously when it comes to staff training, wherever you are in the world, there’ll be some mandatory guidance around training or qualifications for your staff. Those are not what I’m addressing here, what I want to highlight is that technology has given us another gem for staff training. All of our childcare settings have different specifications and as business owners we want things a certain way.

We often spend a long time figuring out how we’re going to to train up new staff, give them a tour of the day care center, an induction training of what you expect and so on…it can be arduous. But it doesn’t have to be. One of the ways I’ve saved time and energy is by creating welcome training videos set for new team members. I can then use these until they need updating with every person who joins us.

In practical terms, this is essentially me giving the new member a guided tour via video. I’m showing them where things are kept, how displays work, what belongs in each room, checks they need to do each day, and how certain things work. It can be as comprehensive as you like, but this sends a clear message to new staff: she means business.

Create an environment that helps your team thrive.

They’ll become more efficient, effective and they’ll see you role modelling excellent leadership by caring for them. As such, you’ll notice them growing more loyal and that’s how you’ll grow a successful business. They’ll be invested in their future, knowing that you’ve got their backs, so long as they’ve got yours too.

Hopefully some of these will resonate with you and you’ll be nodding along! Was there anything I missed in terms of leadership? Let me know! I’m always learning, even after this long in the game!

If you want to read more about stepping into being the boss, you can read this blog. Or join us over in the Childcare Ninja Facebook group, come and say hi! We’d love to welcome you into the space and find out how you’re getting on.

We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup! If you’re interested in becoming a part of the community, join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!

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