Creating a creative space in your childcare business for you

Creating a creative space in your childcare business for you

To be a Childcare Ninja you’ve got to have a space to call your own. Somewhere to get away from the kids and people you work with, where you can just be or a place to reflect on your business and figure out where you’re headed. It doesn’t have to be an entire room, it could just be a corner in your home or work building that is tucked away from the chaos.

I love my little oasis of calm…

Here I’ve put together a few ideas to make your work day less about the hustle and more about the flow.

Closing your door

It is so important that you have opportunities where you can close your door and breathe. Everyone needs downtime, but when you’re running a business – especially one that is often reminiscent of a rumpus out of “Where the Wild Things are” – you need to give yourself time to pause and reflect. If you have an office at work, where you’re always having staff come in and out to ask questions or clarify policies, it might be a good idea to block out short periods where you can close the door and have some undisturbed time. But if your space is at home, maybe you can set gentle rules about when you’re to be left alone.

Say a little prayer

This is your space. It’s your quiet time. Allow yourself to disconnect for a while. This could be somewhere you pray and give thanks for the skills you have been gifted, or ask for guidance through any challenges you’ve come across.

Or maybe you can take time to meditate. The thought behind this is simple – when you’re expending tons of mental energy being a Childcare Ninja problem-solving and innovating, dealing with untold numbers of issues, you need somewhere to recharge your batteries. Just breathe and allow your mind to rest, to turn off the messy incessant noise that comes with running a business.

Get Creative

Having a peaceful space to yourself offers you a chance to flex your creative muscles. Do something just for you. Or create something delightful for a friend. You could do some feminist cross-stitching, or a little bit of drawing or doodling. It’s therapeutic and will give you a break from thinking about your business.

Don’t be afraid of color

It doesn’t need to be an entirely white space, you can add elements of color that inspire you, that bring calm to your space. I love pastels and warm colors, but you might be drawn to cooler tones.

Consider smells

Add a beautiful scented candle to your space, some incense, or a diffuser. Keeping a candle on your desk actually has a more practical purpose than simply making your space smell amazing. Taking a 30 seconds to recalibrate your eyes, by staring at a flame will be really beneficial and a welcome break from a day of constant spreadsheets on screens.

Think about sounds

When I’m in my space, I like to listen to music that soothes me. That might be the sounds of the ocean, but quite often it’s likely to be a little bit of gospel music which I find really relaxing but it also gives me focus which is exactly what I need in my little hideaway space. I’d highly recommend avoiding anything associated with your childcare business – so that’s a NO to nursery rhymes!

Add a little greenery

I recently added a couple of plants to my space, and it’s amazing the difference they’ve made to my well-being. Just a little bit of greenery can go a long way, you don’t have to plant an entire living wall! In having to water your plant to keep it alive you’ll have a reminder that you need nurturing too.

Surround yourself with things that inspire you

Whether it’s your favorite book or a gorgeous ceramic (or if it’s your thing, some crystals), keep something tactile that you can look to for inspiration when you’re taking some time out in your quiet space.

I’d also recommend putting some framed inspirational quotes up above your desk to remind you how awesome you are and to realign you with your “why“. Here are some you might like:

So now all you need to do is carve out a space of your own and create it into a place where you can rejuvenate! By taking regular time out from your business, you’ll be able to grow as a childcare business owner in a more holistic way. You’re aiming to create a better life for yourself and your family, and you can’t pour from an empty cup.

I hope you’re enjoying your journey to becoming a Childcare Ninja, but don’t forget to interact in the Facebook group where you can connect with other amazing women and share ideas. Join us for more tips on how to take your childcare business to the next level!

3 Apps that’ll revolutionize your childcare staffing system

3 Apps that’ll revolutionize your childcare staffing system

Nowadays there are some things in my business that I couldn’t live without. In fact, when I stop and think about it, I wonder how on earth I managed back in 2006! Technology has helped my business become more efficient and grow my profits. After years of juggling I know how much stress some tech has taken out of the daily rigmarole of running a childcare business.

As well as supporting your childcare business to grow by giving you the confidence to aim high, I want to give you practical tips on the day-to-day organization. So here I’ve written about the 3 apps that have really taken the stress out of the daily running of my business. These apps will truly revolutionize your childcare business.

Revolutionize your communication with Slack

Y’all know I love being super organized, so when I started using Slack, my work life became super efficient! It connects to the tools and services that you already use and brings them under one roof. For example, the notifications, files, and data from all your different apps. This has saved me tons of time searching through my emails for that one client follow-up, and stops me from constantly flicking between different tabs and dashboards, and having to log in and out of them all individually! Slack has helped my teams work smarter! I also appreciate how everything that’s shared in Slack is indexed and archived automatically so you can create a clear knowledge base with minimal effort – which is great for new staff. The search function makes it so easy to find the information you need, whenever you need it.

But one of the best things about Slack is how it’s revolutionized our workplace communication. It connects your staff with you and their colleagues, and the tools they work with everyday. It allows you to group people in “channels” that can be organized by project, age group, curriculum area… or anything you like. Your staff members can then see what other team members are working on, but can focus on what they’re needing to get done. It’s a great way of getting everyone up to speed – especially new team members.

Revolutionize your staffing with HoursTracker

How many hours do you spend inputting your staff information into a spreadsheet? And then you’ve got to take off lunch breaks, add on expenses etc. It’s actually a real drain on your time isn’t it? I’ve not looked back since I’ve been using HoursTracker for my own childcare business as I’m much more efficient and feel more in control of tracking hours completed by my staff.

It’s a great way for you to keep an accurate track of work times. Most of us who own a Childcare business know how hard it can be to keep track of the busy schedules all our different staff are working and we don’t have time to do manual entries, so I urge you to use something like HoursTracker. The app is such a simple tool for keeping on top of the hours your staff have worked. It can track employee hours and earnings, business expenses, payment periods and breaks. Not only that, pay periods are automatically calculated, including overtime and net pay estimates!

My team finds it easy to use, and they like being able to instantly clock in and clock out. It saves us all time and stress, so we can enjoy our work caring for all those gorgeous children!

Revolutionize your employee schedules with OpenSimSim

I like being able to have an overview of my childcare settings’ staff schedule, but so does my team! This app lets your employees set their own availability, so when you assign shifts this gets automatically cross-checked to ensure you never give shifts to staff who aren’t available. It also gives flexibility, allowing team members to swap shifts or cover each other’s shifts. As a business owner, this lightens your workload massively, because it means you’re not wasting time chasing to get shifts covered. Reassuringly, though, you still get the final say.

It’s an app that brings fairness to your business too. By running a tally of how many hours you’ve given each employee, it makes it easier for you to ensure a fair number of hours to each team member in the schedule. My team morale has risen since using OpenSimSim and I’ve had a lower staff turnover!

The instant messaging part of the OpenSimSim app, can encourage communication among your team that draws them closer and that reflects positively in your client service. On top of all that, I’m able to communicate with them more efficiently regarding scheduling, and it’s a way for them to approach me with feedback and concerns. Win-win, right?!

So much has changed in the last 14 years.

From ordering new equipment online to organizing your staffing, you can now do it all on your phone, at a time of day that works for you. Technology has transformed the way we run our businesses!

We, as Childcare Ninjas, need to make the most of the tech at our fingertips, because it’s going to free up time to spend on the parts of your business you love most!

grow-your-childcare-business-with-childcare-ninjas

I started Childcare Ninjas because I realized that most business information and ideas aren’t targeted at us. They’re focused on other industries. But we don’t fit that mold! We are 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, click here!

Grow your childcare business by planning for success

Grow your childcare business by planning for success

Childcare Ninjas is all about supporting you to grow your business to be sustainable and successful, and as someone who’s been in the game for a long time now, I know the importance of systematizing. And I understand how this looks very different in child care to how it might look in other industries like retail or coaching.

Planning is the absolute key to growing your childcare business. So how do I do it? Well, I plan everything! From finance to food, and clients to cleaning, I’ve got some strategies that will help you plan and I’ve got some tips for how to stay on top of everything.

You can learn how to implement systems into your childcare business and plan for a successful year ahead!

2020 is going to be brilliant for your childcare business, can you feel it too?

 

Let’s start with assessing where your business is at…

First thing I recommend that you do is take some time out to look at your business and figure out what you’re already doing. I want you to write down all the jobs you do daily that keep your business ticking. Get every little thing you do, and what your employees do, written down so that you can look at ways of organizing and being more efficient. Note down all those little tasks – cleaning toys, writing a menu, invoicing clients…everything! What’s working? What’s not?

You’ll be surprised at all the jobs you do each day, week in, week out, just to keep your business going! You’re a super hero! It might seem silly and time consuming writing all of them down, but you should be so proud of these, and quantifying them will make it much easier to systematize your business. So, if you wanna be a Childcare Ninja, you gotta get organized!

Looking at the bigger picture

Now you’ve got all the jobs you do down in one place, it’s time to set out on paper the things you’d like to do in your business; I call this envisioning. I want you to envision where you see your business going and what you’ve got to do to get there. Write it down. By doing this alongside what you’re already doing, you’re able to see the bigger picture and the journey you need to take to reach your goals for your childcare business.

Getting systems in place to grow your business

Once you’ve got this all noted down in one place, you need to look at the things that are working for you and then weed out which tasks are not. Those that can be removed, replaced or streamlined. Then you can sort each task and the steps you take (for things you’re keeping) into categories, for example “Food”. Under each topic, you can list all the jobs you do for that specific area. It might be easier to cut your list up and arrange into new lists under the headlines. So under “Hygiene” you’ll have all the tasks relating to that: cleaning, buying products, water bills, staff training, policy…and so on.

Break down all the steps and processes that you have in place, adding in the things you’d like to improve. Now you’ve got a plan and a sort of flow chart to guide you through each area of your business.  If you need a guide to help you with this process, download your free childcare business map here and get started building your systems.

Why is systematizing so important?

By getting systems in place, you are getting processes in place that will help you get organized and help your staff become more independent. Once you’ve nailed the systems, you will be able to take time off and not worry about things falling apart while you’re not there. You’ll de-stress, your staff will feel more in control and confident and your business will grow!

Implementing your systems to grow your business

Subsequently, now you’ve got the systems all laid out, it’s time to call a staff meeting. Here you are giving your team a road map of how they can be more effective at their jobs. It’s always a good idea to get all your team together and work through things so that the new changes don’t feel like they’re being “done to” them.  Instead your employees will feel like they are a part of the change because they’ve been given an opportunity to bring ideas and suggestions to the table. Use this meeting as an opportunity to empower your team, and an opportunity for you to take a well-earned break once they get the hang of things!

If you’d like to know more, I have created some helpful videos and resources for you in my Childcare Ninja membership, to make your life a little easier, and to enable you to grow your childcare business into your own little empire.

grow-your-childcare-business-with-childcare-ninjas

Are you in the Childcare Ninja Facebook group yet? We are 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!

 

5 Simple Tips to Go from Exhausted to Excited

5 Simple Tips to Go from Exhausted to Excited

Remember the good old days, when you opened the doors to your childcare with a smile stretched from ear to ear and you quickly flung open your door excited to begin your morning. Oh yes, the good old days!

Do you still have that same excitement and drive when you start your day now? Have you started taking a little longer to get to the door? Is the smile still from ear to ear or do you have more of a grin instead of a smile hiding behind that morning cup of Jo?

Ok, this is the help you’ve been searching for to begin getting your childcare mojo back. This week, we’re going to take a look at 5 simple things you can do in your childcare business to begin getting that excitement back in your life. Lets face it sometimes this #childcarelife can be draining and lonely so let’s get started asap!

Tip #1 “S” is for Systems and sanity too!

Hopefully you have taken some time already to complete your childcare business map so that you better understand and are no longer underestimating ALL the work you really do (if you haven’t done this step yet, I encourage you to do it before tackling these tips). If you’ve done your map already then it’s time to put it to use. Your childcare business map will give you back some sanity because it’s going to help you identify the areas in your business that need systems and make it much easier for you to create those systems. Woohoo!

No matter how small (or big) your childcare is, Systems Work! Having a system or systems in place will allow you to easily gauge what is working and what isn’t. They can help you know where and when to bring in help and once you get help, systems make training that help smooth as a babies foot (just checking to make sure you’re paying attentions ; ) . Sanity is a good thing to have and putting systems in place in your childcare business can help you regain that lost necessity! Say it with me ‘woosah’!

Tip #2 Develop your delegation muscles!

I mentioned in tip #1 that systems can help you determine when it’s time to get help, this is so true but you have to be willing to get the help. One of the things I struggled with in the early years of my childcare business is getting help. Part of me thought I was too small to really need “help” in my business. Let’s get one thing straight right now…YES!!!! we childcare professionals have a few super powers, however, even the Avengers work better as a team! And don’t worry (in case you’re thinking you can’t afford a “team” yet) when I say team I’m by no means suggesting you go out and hire additional employees that you can’t yet afford. There are plenty of college students that need a few extra dollars and have time between their classes to take on a part time job, it’s even better when these students are studying in the early childhood development field. Contact the local colleges and see who might be looking for a part time gig with kids. Also, don’t just look for the help that can work with the kids. Seek out the business admin student who can help keep your social media sites running or update your website for you (with your final approval of course). Lastly on this note, if you are fortunate to already have a staff or team in place, then don’t underestimate their hidden skills and talents. One of my team members was born to do “all things social media” so she’s my go to in that area when I’m stuck and her excitement level has increased because it is something that she loves.

Tip #3 There’s an App for that

There really is an App for just about everything. Since there currently are no AI babysitters though, I think our careers are still in the safe zone ; ) . There are so many Apps out there that sometimes it’s just overwhelming and too frustrating to try and pick the ones you need and then learn how to use them best. For this reason, I’ve put together a short list for this post of Apps that work great for childcare professionals. The other thing that I’ve noticed is the moment someone adds “childcare” to the title of something the price usually jumps to an amount that makes us want to say some unprofessional little words. The Apps in this list all contain FREE versions that provide enough features to help make your small-mid size childcare business more efficient and get stuff done!

1. Canva– This application is great for creating all kinds of marketing material and the learning curve for the program is fairly short, even for a non-techy childcare boss.

2. Timetracker– Is bound to be a well loved app by both the payroll manager and your staff/team. This app makes it easy for your team to track their hours and email their totals to your payroll manager. Super easy to set up and use.

3. Asana– So helpful in having a visual of your systems. The Asana app helps you keeptrack of everything. Projects, schedules, emails, everything in one place for easy access with reminders to help you stay on task!

4. Calendly– More than just a calendar. Calendly will allow your potential clients, new hire or any other individual you may need to meet with the ability to schedule a meeting (whether online, in person) direct from your website. No more back and forth emails or phone calls, you set the times you’re available to meet and they choose a time from the website. Easy as 1-2-3!

This list is by no means complete but so often we are duped into purchasing Apps and software because “childcare” is added to the name but there are options out there that are less expensive and often times free that can accommodate the general needs we have, so don’t be suckered in, be SHARP!

Tip #4 Go to school

Just kidding! Well…sort of. I’m not talking about going back to get another degree or anything (unless of course that’s what you want to do), I’m referring to utilizing what we all have in our very own communities…SCHOOLS! One of the best investments I made in my childcare business was building a genuine relationship with the teachers and staff at the schools we transported children to. This works even if you don’t provide transportation, just introducing yourself to the staff and teachers and letting them get to know you can provide you with not just referral traffic but also summer help. Many teachers and staff look for jobs in the summer to bring in extra income while not working. It’s a plus for the kids because they can keep their brains running in the “off season”, parents like seeing teachers working at childcares it makes them feel more confident about their choice, it helps boost your value now that you offer tutoring services and believe me there are so many more benefits. When teachers in your area know that you are invested in the children that they serve and teach it is a win, win for everyone. Go to school and grow your business!

Tip #5 Meal planning 101

Sometimes the things that set you apart in your childcare business can be the biggest headache. For me this category would be meal planning (or at least it use to be). Providing meals for children in childcare settings is not just about “feeding the children”. Balancing nutritious meals with food items that kids will eat is not as easy as it sounds and I’m sure you can probably relate. To help us feed our little people healthy, delicious meals with less stress we implemented the following. School menus are a great source of inspiration and since most schools and childcares both utilize some sort of state funded food reimbursement program, pretty much all of the meals will still fall within the guidelines they require. Take a couple school menus (breakfast included) and use them as your skeleton menu. Tweak and adjust your menu based on the likes/dislikes and allergies of the children you care for. This strategy will also allow you to have a built in shopping list that can help you purchase in bulk and more efficient. This trick has saved us massive time when trying to think of and research healthy meals that meet the guidelines and kids will eat. Keep in mind that you can also utilize one of those college students to work on this project for you.

These are just a few tips that have helped me better allocate my time and resources in my childcare business. Though these tips are pretty simple they are extremely helpful, they don’t take long to implement and have had a major impact on the growth of my childcare business. I hope they will help you as well. Start with one tip and you’ll begin to see the “fruits of your labor” in no time and that 1/2 grin will be a full blown smile again!

*Please let us know what tips you found helpful or what tips have helped you grow your childcare business, and as always let us know what skills in your toolbox need sharpened, we’re here to help!

#childcarelife #childcareninja #childcareboss

Ordered Chaos

Ordered Chaos

When I opened my first childcare in 2006, I had no idea at the time that I would one day be looking at a six figure income with employees and several sites. Offerings that were not being offered in my service area by anyone are now a few of the things that help set us apart from the rest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what my little childcare has become, but my first “mistake” in business, was not even considering how business may GROW!

Mistake number two, was underestimating what and how much I really do on a given day. If you want to sharpen your skills and become a Childcare Ninja, the first rule is to STOP!!!! letting others think of you as “the babysitter”! Sure, you love your work and part of your day involves hands on work (play) with children, but your day also involves a truckload (add your own adjective 😉 ) of other work, that parents never see. In fact, I’m willing to bet you don’t even realize how much “other work” you actually do as a childcare professional.

After years of running my childcare by basically the “seat of my pants” and doing everything myself, it became quite obvious that if I was going to keep growing this business, I was going to have to find a better way of growing. After two sites with additional offerings and a third site in the horizon, I was becoming exhausted instead of excited about going into work each day. There was no way I could keep going like this. It was at this point that I began to really seek ways to run my childcare business smarter.

That is where this exercise comes in to play. What exercise you ask? “business mapping”. Some of you may be familiar with business mapping and some of you may be saying, oh brother, here we go. Might I encourage you to hear me out though. Sitting down and doing this exercise is the start of what helped me go from being exhausted to being excited about my childcare business all over again! If you’re already familiar with what business mapping is, click here to go ahead and create a business map for your childcare so that you can begin understanding what running your little childcare really looks like. For those of you who aren’t sure what business mapping is, let me explain.

First of all business mapping is just the beginning. It will help you see what it takes for you to open and close your door to your families each day. In order for you to grow, you must first understand where you are. Much like a map you need a starting point. By the end of your business mapping exercise you will know exactly what you’re doing, so that you can begin to plan what is working, not working, and what you can continue to do yourself, what you may need to hand off to some lovely little helper and finally, give you an idea of what else you can take on. You can then create systems that help you reach your goals. So, let’s get started!

After you have downloaded our business mapping FREEBIE (who doesn’t love a freebie 🙂 ), find a quiet place, turn on some soft music, grab a cup of coffee (insert your favorite drink here) and review the sample business map provided. This sample is designed specifically for childcares and while there are still a lot of things not mentioned on this sample that you may do, please remember this is just to get your mind flowing. Once you start filling in your own, you will definitely begin to see why you are not just the babysitter. So, enjoy this exercise and let us know how it helps you bring more clarity to your childcare business, we’d love to #shareyourjourney!

Why Childcare Ninjas Exist? In my search for ideas to better grow my business, I realized that most business information and ideas are targeted toward other types of businesses and what’s more is that, the groups, organizations etc. that are reaching the childcare industry tend to offer advice that is wonderful for large centers but it seems like (or at least what I felt) the small-mid size childcare professional was either on their own or had to figure out how to adjust the advice to work for them. For this reason, I’ve created this community – Childcare Ninjas! We are an army of childcare professionals with ninja sharp skills, caring for kids with 100% love who are sharing skills to go from exhausted to excited in our childcare businesses again! Interested in becoming a part of the community, click here!

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