This year has really thrown us some curve balls, hasn’t it? But it hasn’t all been terrible. I never thought that I’d be writing an article that featured two childcares, a global pandemic and a wedding. Honestly! Some of the stories and memories I’ve had from this time are up there with the best of ’em. And today’s blog is one of those good ones.
So let me begin…
“What a beautiful home you have, thank you so much for doing this.”
Those words came from the Mother of the Groom, as we stood in my kitchen while her son and his groomsmen were preparing for the Bride and her entourage. They were fixing each other’s collars and straightening their ties, giving their shoes one last buff. Each one of them was smiling and filling the room with happiness.
People flowed throughout my home with nothing but laughter, joy and celebration on such a glorious day. It seemed to be perfectly created as a wedding gift from God for our own happy friends.
Last minute “I dos”
When I stopped and looked around on the big day, I thought to myself how special it had turned out. The bride looked divine in her floral gown and her new husband was so smart. The guests were all dressed up, a few masks, but people respectfully distancing and it felt like a happy and non-judgmental environment, where love conquered all.
The ceremony was so incredibly beautiful, the food delicious, and the newly married couple were radiant. Everything was so beautiful and joyous that you wouldn’t even think that this awesome festivity had only been planned five days prior. I know! Jaw dropping, right?!
There were a couple of minor tweaks, due to the situation, but otherwise you’d never know! In fact, because the neighbor’s garden waterfall was in the background of some of the photos, relatives thought we’d gone somewhere exotic, not just my backyard!
Pandemic induced fear
The date had been set for months to take place later this year, but when Covid hit 2020, fear came too. So with the fear of our state being on lockdown again and in general conversation, the plan evolved on Monday to have a wedding in my home on Saturday.
We had to plan things a little faster than normal. But the changes we made were barely noticeable – especially to the untrained eye! I had no idea that you could get wedding cakes – beautiful ones! – from Sam’s Club, and I wouldn’t have known if no one had told me. I wondered how they’d managed to source one so fast! Amazing.
Neither was there time to organize fancy caterers, so we fed everyone chipotle – which went down a treat! And all the decorations for my home and the garden were last minute purchases from Michael’s craft store, but they were also well received by the guests.
The Pittsburgh Cookie Table tradition was the only thing that was missing. You know the one! Where all the family and friends bake for a special table laden with cookies. Mmmm. Well, there wasn’t time, but I don’t think people missed it too much.
Growing my childcare business
Which brings me to explaining how any of this has anything to do with two childcares!
It’s quite simple really. 13 years ago, this moment would not have been possible. Through years of testing out ideas, systems and processes to grow my childcare business. I started that business with very little and – through perseverance, my love of kids, and a belief in myself – I’ve grown it into a multiple 6 figure company that has allowed me to help create timeless memories both inside and outside my childcare business.
It brings tears to my eyes thinking about what a beautiful day I was able to provide for the couple who got married, and how much my financial situation has changed in a decade. Being able to give back like this is why I do what I do. And I know you can do this too. You can grow your childcare business into a sustainable and dependable 6 figure business that opens doors for everyone you love.
(With huge thanks to the incredibly talented photographer Anu Kolawole at MercyWerks Studios for kindly allowing us to share her beautiful images of this special day.)
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Recently our industry has been recognized as essential due to the pandemic. The need for emergency service staff, food store workers and other “essential” workers to place their children in care with us while they deal with the Covid-19 crisis has been a core part of this. This has been an interesting thing for me to observe, and I was wondering how you’re feeling about it?
As a childcare business owner of multiple spaces, with a large number of staff, I have been watching things unfold with attentiveness. I know that the majority of our parents have always thought of us as essential, but that isn’t always the case, so the realization by the wider public and government feels quite significant.
So this led me to pondering about our mindsets as founders in this business. I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve read this blog…
How essential did you feel before?
It’s a funny one isn’t it? Before the outbreak here in the USA I, personally, considered the offerings of my business to be absolutely essential. I heard it from parents all the time. Being there to pick up the pieces when a treasured little human is finding separation anxiety tough, or when we can offer care to cover a night shift for someone whose shifts change last minute…I’d consider those things pretty essential, right? When you get feedback from clients like, “I don’t know what I’d do without you!” Or “You’re a God-send” you feel like they couldn’t do without your business. Or at least that’s what I have always felt like.
But I know that a few other childcare business owners feel like their services aren’t that important. That they’re considered casual or they don’t feel they’re needed – maybe the moms aren’t working and get their hair done while you watch their kids. Some have told me they’re not treated as professional by some of their clients or people in their communities – they’re “just childcare”. From where I’m standing, there’s no “just”! But I do understand that being told constantly that your an afterthought – sometimes even a frivolous expense – must be difficult to hear when the job feels so demanding and is all-consuming.
Which camp did you sit in and how do you feel now?
It’s not all fun and games
One thing I’ve noticed is that people posting on social media have changed their tone. They’ve gone from joking about how easy our jobs are and how we get paid too much for “just playing”, to acknowledging the challenges that childcare business comes with. Apparently they’ve realized that childcare is more than just fun and games!
And it’s dawned on people that trying to work while having a kid in tow is pretty tough…so I saw clients who initially tried to work from home with the children at home, but couldn’t get enough done. Which led to them booking their kids into daycare instead of relying on screens to mind them. Instead they get engaging activities and entertainment in a safe environment that doesn’t disturb mom and dad’s conference calls! And we now get grateful parents who thank us for something they’d taken for granted before.
Has the pandemic changed your business mindset?
The pandemic has hit us all in different ways, depending on where you are and how severe the lock down in your state has been. Here, in Pennsylvania, my business has pretty much carried on as before.
Has your mindset as a business owner changed since we’re now acknowledged as “essential”? Or did you always consider you and your team as indispensable? Are you cheering “FINALLY!” at the top of your lungs? I am so intrigued, because it definitely feels different hearing us being officially described as essential workers.
Perhaps you’re grateful for recognition? Is it like a badge of honor that we can now be held up as our healthcare workers and first responders are? After decades of providing care for thousands of children, we are now being given this accolade – it’s a little strange to think that it’s only just happened.
Where do we go from here?
It is certainly a strange time for many business owners, and I know some childcare owners have struggled – particularly outside the US where lock down has been stricter in some countries. But the change in attitude from the government and the wider public surely means that we have a general appreciation now, and perhaps we can see ourselves in a different light too.
Has it changed the way you look at yourself as a professional? Do you feel more professional than casual? I know that many of the parents I work with have a new found view on us, and I think I’m probably walking a little taller! I feel even more proud of the support we’ve given during the crisis to emergency workers, but in helping families maintain some sort of normality. We’ve been a safe haven for a lot of kids.
Now that we’re officially “essential” will this change the way you approach your work and customer interactions? Have you noticed any difference in you or your team?
I know this isn’t the usual kind of blog post I share with you, Ninjas, but I had to find out from you if y’all are feeling like this too?! Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or drop me an email! I love hearing from you, and these times we’re living in are pretty strange. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Keep on keepin’ on!
I’m going to open this discussion up on the Facebook group too, so come on over and join in the chat! It’s THE place to meet like-minded childcare business owners, to keep up to date and in the loop about all things early education and daycare related, and to hang out!
And if you’d like to find out more about becoming a Childcare Ninja, don’t hesitate to get in touch. 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!
Have you taken a moment to rethink and reload your financial goals for 2020? It’s been a rollercoaster of a year so far, but there’s no need to despair! Essentially, we’re only half way through so let’s assess where you’re at and get planning!
Y’all know my favorite word is the “p” word. Ms. Nyckie loves the planning! However, you might be wondering, “what’s the point?” You’re maybe even thinking, “Let’s write off 2020 and start from scratch next year”. Who wants to sit back and mope?? Not me! And I want to encourage you to re-look at your financial goals with some positivity and hope!
Why you need to rethink your financial goals
Between a global pandemic causing financial chaos and the anxious state of flux we’re seeing on the international stock market, it’s not really surprising that we might not have met our goals for 2020. But I hasten to add one word to that sentence: YET. You might not have met them YET.
Clearly 2020 is giving us enough reasons to rethink (life, health, family…let alone our businesses!), so why not just go with the flow? We cannot control the way the pandemic is impacting our businesses – social distancing, face masks and additional cleaning are just a few of the adjustments we’re all having to make – not to mention closures for those of us in countries where strict lock-downs have been in place.
What we can control is our reactions and coping strategies. Let’s be pro-active, re-think and reload our financial goals!
Where to start with reloading
It sounds simple, but in the words of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning”! You made Q1 goals in January, right? And maybe the more savvy Childcare Ninjas among us even set Q2 goals back in March. Since then things have gone a bit haywire, and maybe that line you’re usually so able to predict hasn’t quite followed the path you were expecting.
Look at what’s worked well and where things need some support. Have you managed to stay open during this time, or have you had to close temporarily for everyone’s safety? I’ve been lucky in the grand scheme of things, but I know many childcare business owners elsewhere who’ve had to shut their doors, uncertain of when they’ll be able to welcome their families back and therefore had to dismiss staff. Now some of those day cares are preparing for re-opening and they’ve got to look at rehiring as well as navigate intense new levels of hygiene.
If you’ve been one of the lucky ones and have been able to keep going, take a good look at your goals from earlier in the year. How can you alter the projections you’d made to take into account any changes in the financial climate? Factor in any interest rate alterations and allowances you might have been able to access. You can still dream big, and maybe reloaded goals look more positive than you’d imagined they might, considering the current situation.
Ensure that your goals are SMART.
If you’ve not heard of SMART goals before, this means that you are looking at targets in a more analytical way. While you’re reloading your financial goals, it’s worth checking that they are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Due to the instability of everything at this precise moment in time, you might be concerned about the longevity of your business so analyse everything and figure out what you can do differently.
Setting really specific goals, like “Find 3 new families for the day care” or “create new menu on a smaller budget”, will mean you can easily see if you’re making progress. Just be sure to write down detailed plans, to chunk big goals down into bite-size ones, and make a timeline for achieving your goals.
The back up plan for your financials…
If you’re not going to meet your goals, but still worrying about not meeting adjusted targets, what’s your plan B? What are you going to do differently to cover your back? If you’re not fully up and running yet, you could set a new goal to develop your childcare business by training up a team or looking at venues. Or maybe you’ve got to pick up some freelance jobs or babysitting work in addition to running your childcare business, just to tide things over.
You may decide that now is the time to start saving more emergency funds, or that you’re going to make changes in your investment strategy so your money has a better chance of surviving market downturns.
I’d be happy to chat over in the Facebook group with you about how things are going, and the other childcare business owners will have ideas about how you can adjust your strategy to reach your new goals, in the new normal (whatever that looks like for you!).
Before you go, have you found 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! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!