Working with children can be one of the most rewarding things in the world, although you will need to be highly dedicated and have lots of patience.
Why start a day nursery?
If you want a business that is both equally rewarding and profitable, starting a day nursery could be for you. Millions of working parents rely on day nurseries, so this is a business that is very much in demand – and despite the stresses and strains which running a nursery can bring, there are few other businesses which offer the same level of rewards and satisfaction. You should however be prepared for challenges and set backs along the way – this is definitely not a business which brings easy money.
Services offered by day nurseries vary widely. Many nurseries offer only full-time places, whilst others also offer part-time places or provide out-of-school care to older children during school holidays. You will need to research the demand in the area you intend to operate and tailor your services accordingly.
Starting a day nursery can be very expensive. First of all you will need to acquire suitable premises – and whether renting or buying, this can work out to be prohibitive. As there are strict rules and regulations regarding how much space each child needs to have, you will need to ensure that you acquire a building that is big enough to accommodate the amount of children you plan to look after. The bigger this is, the more it is going to cost, but of course the revenue potential also becomes higher as you can take on more children at any one time. Your premises could be a specially built nursery or it could be a converted residential or commercial building – your local council can usually advise you on the suitability of any properties you are considering. Other notable costs include staffing, purchasing equipment, admin and marketing.
Rules and regulations
Regulations covering childcare are complex and cover staff, facilities, premises and levels of care. You will need to be registered with Ofsted (in England), CSSIW (in Wales), SCSWIS (in Scotland) or The Early Years Team of Local Health & Social Care Trusts (in Northern Ireland). With good reason, becoming registered with the applicable body is not particularly easy, and you will need to show that you conform to a certain standard of day care and that all staff are properly vetted and found to be suitable to look after children. The manager of the nursery must hold a recognised nursery qualification and have at least two years of experience, and half of all remaining staff must also possess relevant qualifications and are required to be familiar with child protection issues. There are also strict rules regarding the ratio of children to members of staff, floor space per child, general health & safety, fire safety and food safety. Your local authority can usually provide more information on this.
What are the keys to success with this business?
Day nurseries rely heavily on their reputation. Every parent wants to ensure that their children receive the highest possible level of care – and places at highly regarded nurseries become like gold dust. Your staff are therefore at the heart of the success of your nursery. Well-qualified and highly motivated staff provides an environment in which children thrive and receive the highest levels of care.
Your next steps
Market research is a good place to start. Consider the area in which you intend to set up your nursery and then look at the competition. What services do they offer? What are their fees? Is there enough demand in the local area for another day nursery? This is especially important since some areas are extremely saturated and it is essential to establish that there is a sustainable demand before progressing any further with your business. You will also need to think carefully about the level of services you intend to offer and then write up a detailed business plan. Finally, make sure that you thoroughly investigate the rules and regulations surrounding childcare – as previously mentioned there is a lot of red tape and it is important that you understand all of your obligations and know how to proceed.