Have you thought about starting a childcare business in 2022? What are your priorities for getting started? At this time of year I always pause for reflection, and I’ve been thinking about the things I’d do if I were to start my business again in 2022…
So this blog has 5 things I think might help you get a head-start! There are things that took me a while to learn or implement, and things I wish I’d done more of sooner!
Read on, Ninja!
If you’re a visual or auditory learner, you might want to watch the YouTube episode I recorded about this right now:
Or continue reading if you love a blog!
Ok, so I’m diving in with these 5 tips…
Tip Number One: Have a niche!
If you’re starting your childcare business in 2022, there’s definitely a lot to be said for niching down sooner rather than later. Instead of being another generic local daycare center, offer something that local families need or want! That way you’re meeting a need and making a name for yourself. You’re likely to be more memorable with a niche and the news about your childcare business will spread faster.
I’ve talked more about how you can niche down in my previous blog post.
Tip Number Two: Mix the old school and the new!
Something I’d do straight away if I was starting up next year is not get caught up in trends. They’re great and serve their purpose, but there’s no need to ignore the old marketing tricks like flyers and posters.
Social media is super useful for getting your message out there. But what happens if the global server goes down and we have no socials?! It was all a bit worrying last time, wasn’t it?! Imagine if it had been down for longer… Gulp! Not a nice thought, am I right? So you’ve got to think strategically.
One thing I must mention if you’re going to be starting a childcare business in 2022, is that you need to have a clear budget. And more importantly, you’ve gotta stick to it! There are so many things you can do to set up your childcare on a budget, so you don’t need big bucks to get going.
However, sometimes it’s easy to get carried away buying resources, spending too much on marketing or uniforms… Basically not sticking to your financials. So I urge you to make a plan for what you can afford. Prioritize your budget and stick with it. I’ve written loads of content on starting out on a budget, so don’t panic! Read them here.
Tip Number Four: Build your systems!
Y’all know I’m obsessed with systems, but it’s for a good reason! They make running a business so much easier! There’s no way I’d be where I am today – a multiple facility owner bringing in a sustainable 6 figure income – if I didn’t have systems.
Having certain parts of your childcare business automated really does help you stay sane and keep things ticking over smoothly! So if you’re just getting started in your business, now is the time to get those systems in place! Don’t leave it as long as I did, Ninja! Read more about why you need systems in your childcare biz here.
Tip Number Five: Invest in yourself!
Investing in myself is one of those things I wish I’d done a lot sooner!! Sometimes I wonder where I’d be now if I’d prioritised my self-investment! I’m passionate about women in biz investing in their education, up-levelling their skills and learning about strategy. And I believe and have spent the last few years discovering how mindset is SO IMPORTANT!
And it doesn’t have to cost you the earth! There are numerous ways to invest in yourself, from borrowing books from the library or buying them second hand, to joining a membership or hiring a coach. However you do it, it’s important to get insight from people who have already been on the journey. Nowadays there’s lots of information readily available – so much more than when I was starting out. Daycare owners have become much more willing to share their journey, so why not use their expertise!
Educating yourself on the business side of daycare is vital too. Even if you love playing with the kids and your gift is coming up with the curriculum you really need that business acumen too. You can join daycare business groups like mine and ask questions, get tips and learn from others too. Have a think on where you may have gaps and ways to fill them within your budget!
So whether you’re up-levelling or starting your childcare business in 2022, getting connected with other childcare owners is a game changer!
Gain strategies and tips to move your childcare business forward by joining a community! That’s why I set up my Facebook group, where you can hang out with like-minded and aspirational daycare owners. 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! Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too.
As if it’s nearly halfway through 2021 already?! And this month is a great time to celebrate your team and yourself! We had International Workers Day on May 1st, Mother’s Day is coming up, and it’s soon to be Teacher Appreciation week. All of which are relevant to you and your staff. So why not celebrate the progress you’ve made so far this year!
At this point in the year, I like to take some time to reflect on how far I’ve come, and to assess where I’m at in relation to the goals I initially set in Q1. I know how easy it is to get swept up doing the day job, so much so that the wins can slip by unnoticed. Or the dreams we had at the start of the year are forgotten.
It’s time to take stock and celebrate the steps we’ve taken!
May the Joy be with you
Every year, May seems to be a month of celebration. Singing the praises of teachers and moms and workers! Yay! But I wanted to shout out all the brilliant things you’re doing too! As childcare business owners we step into our families’ parenting shoes and we do quite a lot of teaching as well.
You are amazing community leaders, supporting parents to do their jobs in difficult times, and nurturing their babies! You’ve helped keep your country’s economy going. We are superheroes! Where’s your cape!? Let’s celebrate the last few months together!
Where did you begin 2021?
We all had high hopes for 2021 after 2020 and the Covid-19 drama…we thought we’d have moved on by now. But the reality hasn’t been as great as we’d hoped maybe. In January I remember me and my teams all sat down and went through plans for the next few months. Not just the day-to-day learning and care stuff, but I wanted to encourage them to be a part of my vision.
It’s easy to get caught up with the business of life and the Childcare Business but make sure to take stock of all those amazing plans we made at the start of the year. So what did you set as your goal earlier this year? Revisit your vision board and your goals list. Are there any bigger goals that got left behind? Because there’s still enough time to do them, choose to go all in!
Did you have a foolproof strategy in place to ensure that you took action? I’d love for you to reflect on the goals you set yourself. Where are you at in your journey towards them? Have you been meeting your SMART targets?
Where are you at now?
We’re almost halfway through 2021! Can you believe it? It’s like I blinked and FebMarchApril happened! Anyway, time is flying! So as we approach the midpoint, now’s a good time to reflect and check in and assess where you are.
Check your progress in detail. Imagine your goal as a destination; Whereabouts are you on the road to it? Reflect on some things like what’s working? Where have I gone wrong? What changes do I need to make? We need to look at all these things and push forward and put in place the things that need to be done so we can accomplish our dreams for 2021.
Make a note of the steps you’ve got left to take. Perhaps as we’re almost 6 months in it’s time to buckle down and zoom in on the bigger goals. Let’s take those dreams – the ones we are passionate about – and shout out: “Yassssssssssssss!! I’m going to finish it this year, I’m going to smash it!” Now we’ve got to get laser focused, give it 110% and throw everything we’ve got at these goals and go for it!
What can you celebrate?
So please use this month as a time to give yourself a pat on the back for making it through such a weird year, for being a shining light in the darkness! Clink a glass or two to celebrate how far you’ve come since January. Even if the wins seem small, it doesn’t matter!
I also want to celebrate and thank all the Childcare Business owners with it being Teachers Appreciation Week and Mother’s Day coming up!
As day care and childcare providers we definitely teach like teachers and care for kids just like moms do! SO this is my big thank you for EVERYTHING you do for your families and for the community you serve.
One of the ways I say thank you is via my freebies! So please head over and download resources that you’ll find useful. I think you’ll love my Weekly Planner – so you can stay on track to achieving your goals!
Interested in becoming more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too! 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!
I’ll bet my morning coffee that you’ve had several hard conversations to handle in the last month or so. Am I right?! Sometimes it might have been with a member of your team, it might even have been with someone in your family…but what do you do when it’s with a parent?
As a childcare business owner these conversations are not uncommon! You don’t have to have been in business very long before you find yourself in the awkward situation of needing to have an uncomfortable conversation with a parent. It may be something that sounds super simple, but you never know what it could turn into.
Recently I’ve been asked in my Facebook group about how to handle these tricky moments and I thought a blog post might help!
What do you mean by “hard conversations”?
Ok, so these are the conversations that you might freeze up in, or avoid having altogether. You know the ones?! The time a grandma comes to pick up their little one and they are more soaked than a rum cake. Or in winter when a pre-schooler is brought in wearing inappropriate jelly shoes and a sundress, with no coat. Or one of your parents smokes right outside the window, despite the sign you’ve displayed…
These are sometimes what you might describe as “teachable moments”. When the person you’re speaking with might not know what they’re doing or saying is wrong. Often this might be with a new team member or a family who’s new to my day cares. And it’s my job as a professional to set them straight and to help them see things from my perspective.
Other times, a different approach is needed. It’s important to address this because you will find these conversations come up. Ones that you don’t want to tackle but will need to.
What do you do if…
One of the Childcare Ninjas in my Facebook group asked me last week about something quite specific, so I thought I’d also share it here. It illustrates the exact kind of hard conversation many of you might have to have in your role as a childcare business owner. So the question I received was, “Hey Miss Nyckie! What do you do when a parent has come to your center smelling of Marijuana or seems intoxicated, how do I handle these things?”
In a situation like this your first priority is the safety of the child. You need to make sure you protect the child in your care above all else. You’re in “loco parentis”, which means you’re totally responsible in that moment. As a business owner, it all comes back on you.
What you do next matters because what if someone comes back and asks, “Why did you let the child go with a person in that state?”
So here’s how to handle it
In this situation (or others like it) you want to immediately assess:
1. The danger or potential danger of the child (make sure the child is in a safe position).
2. Your own protection as an individual and as a business owner.
3. What options do you have to handle this situation?
Those are a few of the things you must consider in an uncomfortable situation, that could potentially turn into something worse.
The best way to deal with hard conversations it to be ahead of the game! Make sure you’re as prepared as possible so that these conversations are less likely to occur in the first place. I’d advise that you have something in your Parental Contract wording that covers things like this and ensure that all of your parents read and sign off. You can then parrot the information at them when they break the rules they agreed to. It makes your job easier!
Another thing you need to take into consideration is covering yourself. By making sure that you cover all bases, you’re protecting everything you’ve spent time building. After all, this is your business, your livelihood and legacy! You want to protect it as much as possible. Look into insurance thoroughly.
Tips for hard conversations
When these situations crop up, we can easily fall into “I’m the boss” mode. You’re the expert. They’re the parent. You make the rules here. However, as much as an authoritarian manner can be useful occasionally, this can also be like a red rag to a bull.
I recommend that you take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Run through points 1 to 3 above. Try to make sure you have a witness to the conversation. Lay out the law of the land in a respectful and composed way that won’t incite any bad feeling.
I’m going to be talking you more about this sort of difficult circumstance during tonight’s live, so why don’t you join me?
Have you been in an awkward situation before? How did you handle it?
Supporting you is top of my priorities, so head on over and join my free Facebook group, where I help childcare business owners step into their leadership like the ninjas they are! We can do hard things!
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 more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too!
Running a childcare business is hard. It can be super fun, and of course you’re passionate and adore the families you work with. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t elements that are challenging and that you won’t face difficulties from time to time. And doing that alone is tough. So I wanted to share my top reasons for ensuring you get support in your childcare business.
I can’t stress enough how important it’s been for me to have support while I’ve been growing my daycare centers. It’s all part of my Ninja mindset and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.
1. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness!!
Support can help move you towards the success you’re looking for but I know how hard it can be to even ask for that help in the first place. In the back of your mind, you’re thinking “I shouldn’t need help. It’s MY childcare business. Why can’t I do this by myself? I bet no one else has to ask for support. Urgh I’m such a failure.” So firstly, let me start by saying: WRONG! You SHOULD need help. I don’t know one single person running a successful business — childcare or not! — who’s done that all by themselves!
Needing support is certainly not a sign of weakness or signalling to the world that you’ve not a clue what you’re doing, it’s actually a sign of intelligence. Taking a moment to realize which areas you need a little help in or perhaps developing a better understanding, is not weak. If you ask me, I believe it shows your strength as a leader and as a role model.
I know that feeling well though, and it all stems from worrying what others might think of you. However, when you break that down, who are these people you’re worried about? Are they brave enough to follow their passions and set up a childcare and take a leap into running their own business? Nope. The people who criticize or judge others are often the people wishing they had the guts to do what you’re doing. So don’t let the fear of what people will think (or what you think people will think) hold you back from getting the support you need to grow your childcare business.
2. Get support sooner rather than later
Acknowledging the areas you need support in early in the game will help you move towards your goals much faster, because you’ve then removed those fears. Think strategically about what you want help with, and get a feel for the kind of support you want in that arena. Do you want to grow a network of other childcare leaders? Or perhaps you need support with tech and systems? Maybe you could do with some more confidence, and a coach could support you in that? The sooner you start investigating what it is you need and how you’ll get it, the better.
When you’re willing to go and seek out the support you need, you’ll get the success that you want at a quicker pace! I wish that I’d been less cautious of getting the help I needed. I think I’d have grown my business faster. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it!? But actually – even though the way I’ve done things might not have got me there as fast – it was right for me at the time. I try not to be too hard on myself.
But take it from me, things begin to go smoother and at a more rapid pace when you’ve got the support around you! Don’t wait till you feel ready. Do it now!
3. Don’t go it alone!
Finally, it’s not just about learning, it’s about having people to lean on when things get tricky. Whenever I’ve come up against a challenge, it’s been a huge relief to be able to call upon my network and say, “hey, I was wondering if any of you felt like this too?” And knowing you’re not alone is not to be underestimated! That emotional support is vital for keeping you at the top of your game. Sometimes our life partners aren’t enough for the pep talks. What we need is people who’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt, OR empathetic cheerleaders who just get it! They get exactly what you’re going through.
Having a support network helped my business flourish. And it made me realise that there were also toxic “friendships” that I needed to be rid of too. Surround yourself with people who’ll support you to achieve your dreams, not ones who question your every move, trying to keep you small. Dream big, baby girl. You’re a childcare ninja, after all!!
Furthermore, it’s not just a sisterhood of other marvellous women you need on your side, I’d highly recommend investing in support too. Getting a mentor or coach and having a place to go and ask questions is key to growing your childcare business. After working with a coach myself, my whole mindset changed. I was able to see the bigger picture, and really work on my goals and my vision. Since I made that choice, I have sky-rocketed my business! Imagine what you could achieve!
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Oprah Winfrey
Have you got a support network? Why don’t you share this with them and show them how much you appreciate them!?
If you don’t have one yet, come and say hi in our Ninja community on Facebook! 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 more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too!
By now you’ll know that I believe systems and processes have a truly significant role in building your childcare business. They’re key to you growing and up-levelling! In the last 15 years, my main learning from being a childcare business owner has been that systems equals success!
Some of the most important factors of implementing systems in your business are to improve efficiency and organization. This is what enables you to monitor and manage your staff whilst staying connected to the operational strategies of the business. And you can keep taking a step back to make sure everything is working and in sync to help you achieve your vision.
Let’s take a look at why systems equal success…
Why do you rave about systems, Nyckie?
Because they work!! (Can I get an amen?!) No matter what size your childcare business is, it no doubt includes multiple systems working together to achieve your goals. Systems and processes are essential to your business’ success, especially when it comes to growth. If you don’t have these to lean on then your growth will be super hard to achieve.
Trust me! To ensure you can train employees and delegate responsibilities, to offer a consistent high quality service, make sure things run smoothly in your day-to-day, you need systems!
Setting up systems is all well and good BUT if they don’t actually work, then what’s the point? 🤷🏾♀️
I recommend that you go over your systems at least every 6 months. Analyze and review them, make sure every part of the system is working towards its purpose. Once you’ve gone through the hard work of setting up all your systems, it can be very easy to put them on the back-burner and forget all about them. But we need to check in from time to time, to look at what’s working and what needs adjusting. As your business grows it’s to be expected that your systems need to adapt too.
In the generic biz world, they call this “System analysis”. Which is, essentially, studying a system or its parts in order to identify its objectives. Does it do its job properly? It’s basically a problem solving technique that helps you improve the system and ensures that all the components of the system work efficiently to accomplish their purpose. Analysis specifies what the system should do. I talk more about it here.
Optimize your childcare business processes
It’s important that you take time to understand the entire system in order to make changes to simplify the steps involved. By using a systems perspective, you can remove unnecessary steps and find effective short cuts which can save your childcare business money (and who doesn’t want to do that, right?!). You want to optimize your systems for ultimate success, not keep things as they’ve always been.
Think about it! What worked brilliantly when you had an in-home daycare with 4 children isn’t necessarily going to do the job when you’re set up in your first location. What worked for 3 team members, is unlikely to work when you’ve got multiple locations and several teams. So do take some time and go through your systems one by one and check if they need to grow with you so you can get to that next level of success.
Problem solving instead of problem dodging
One of the benefits of analyzing your systems—picking it apart and then adjusting as needed—is that your problem solving skills will improve. Instead of avoiding complexity, a systems approach helps you see problems as exciting opportunities. These problems offer potential ways to innovate and develop your creativity. If something isn’t working, what can you do to improve that element of the system? Brainstorm and think outside the box!
And this has a knock-on effect with your team. They see you modelling leadership from a problem solving angle, and it has an impact on the way they approach tasks too! Rather than shy away from difficult issues, your staff turn into active problem solvers. They also feel safer to try new ways of thinking because they can trust your systems.
Are your systems helping you achieve your objectives?
Another thing to consider is where you want to be—what’s your bigger vision?—and to see if your systems are leading to that goal. You want to be working a few steps ahead so that you’re ready for what’s coming.
When you only address one part of the problem, you’ll likely never find a long-term solution. By taking a step back, and looking at the interconnected dynamics of the system, you’ll discover a better way of organizing your business.
Systems thinking can help you revolutionize your childcare business across every aspect. If you put the systems approach to work in your childcare—however large or small!—a better and more efficient business could be right around the corner. And that means more revenue!
So, repeat after me: Systems = Success! Unless of course, they’re not working!
I’d love to know what the biggest change you’ve had to make in your childcare business is, as it’s grown? How did you manage to navigate it? Which of your systems needed adapting? Come and join in the conversation about systems over in the Childcare Ninja Facebook group!
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 for biz ideas and to take a sneak peek behind the scenes!