"You’ve made the big decision to start a daycare business. Whatever your reason, whether you’re a childcare professional with a vision or a parent who sees a need, you’ve got your work cut out for you. First things first[,] though, you’re going to need a business plan. This is a big task, but due diligence and hard work at this stage will inform the rest of the process. You’ll need to do your research, with a focus on gaining a deep understanding of what you’ll need to successfully launch and run a daycare business. Before you get started, find out about licensing guidelines in your area. Your local government will have rules and regulations that will govern you as a small business owner and as a childcare provider, and you want to strictly comply with [both. Start] by checking out Child Care Aware of America’s licensing guidelines, and then research your specific state and city. If you’re in California the Child Care Resource and Renewal Network should have all the info you need. Once you’re clear on licensing guidelines, you’re ready to get started on your daycare business plan...Start with the basics–what are you planning to do? The exercise of detailing out exactly what service you’re offering will help you shape a clear plan for your business. You might want to write some goals or even a mission statement, outlining your purpose and motivation...Start by looking at general childcare industry trends, but then narrow it down to looking at the childcare offerings and choices in your local area. You’ll need to figure out who your target customers are, and confirm that there really is a need in your community. Are there a lot of young families in your neighborhood? Is there a particular age group that has a need for childcare? Are you located somewhere convenient for commuting parents? Also, check out the competition. Do some research on the existing daycare options in your community. How will you differentiate yourself to attract customers?...Developing detailed budgets will guide you in the logistics of running your small business. You’ll need to figure out cash flow vs. expenditures, and build in a plan for unexpected costs. How many children do you need to serve to be able to pay your bills and stay afloat? ChildCare Aware offers some terrific planning worksheets for this process...Depending on the type and size of your daycare, you’ll need insurance policies of several different types, including liability, property, workers’ compensation, and business insurance. Check the licensing requirements for guidance...Write out policies, procedures, and handbooks for your staff and families. Again, ChildCare Aware offers a detailed guide to this process. Verify the licensing requirements for staff ratios and teachers’ educational backgrounds. Childcare staff are subject to criminal background checks and fingerprinting, and be sure to rigorously verify references and education levels. You’ll also develop a disaster or crisis management plan and health, safety, privacy, and nutrition protocols, all under the guidance of your local childcare licensing requirements...Decide what type of advertising will put you in front of potential customers. List your daycare in any local directories of childcare providers and participate in parenting events in your area...Run a social media campaign focusing on your target population. Another big piece of marketing will be to consider how to differentiate yourself from other childcare businesses. These days going high-tech is a surefire way to please families with young children."
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