Looking to get a head start in the Early Learning sector? Starting an Early Childhood business may just be the thing you need to provide an incredible service for children and families alike. Owning an Early Childhood centre may sound like a daunting task, especially considering all the costs and regulations required to operate a small business alone. This is on top of the responsibility involved with providing care for multiple children and toddlers.
Today’s blog breaks down the steps and processes required to run your own Early Childhood business. We will explore everything you need to know, from costs, qualifications & regulations. We will also demonstrate how you can promote your business using online and print services.
Why should you open an Early Childhood business?
Early Childhood services have become a growing industry in recent years. There has been a growing demand for more early childhood centres and providers to supervise and nurture a new generation.
Early Childhood centres provide an important service for both children and their parents. For parents, childcare centres act as a safe and nurturing environment for their children to be supervised during the day, allowing them to perform their jobs with peace of mind. For young children, early childhood centres provide a fun and encouraging learning environment, which teaches infants and toddlers core skills that help them develop as individuals.
As an early childhood educator, you will be responsible for observing the children’s strengths, interests, and needs, which in turn assists with creating activities and learning exercises that help develop young minds. Parents and caregivers can be assured, that their children are properly fed with nutritional planned meals, cleaned, and happy throughout the day.
It can often be a hard job taking care of multiple children at once, but it is a career that provides a great amount of personal growth and fulfillment. Early childhood educators can also find themselves earning around $35,000 to $40,000 each year for their services.
For those looking to expand their horizons in the early childhood sector, running your early learning centre is the next step in progressing through your career. Early Childhood businesses (e.g. familys daycare) attract many new families within the community, who are looking to have their children supervised for the day. Having your own business means you can control your hours and income to suit your goals. Most early childhood services can even be performed in the owner’s household (depending on the number of children supervised).
Step 1: Gain a registered qualification
When starting your career in early childhood education, it’s important to have the right skill set and experience to work as an early childhood educator. Thankfully, there is a wide range of early learning qualifications available for people looking to begin their early childhood careers. Some of these qualifications currently available in Australia include:
- CHC30121 Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
- CHC50121 Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
- CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support
- CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support
Studying a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
The Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care offers a fantastic introduction to providing early childhood services in all types of early learning environments (i.e. kindergarten, pre-school, etc.). The qualification teaches you the appropriate skills and practices required to nurture children, run activities/ education curriculums for infants and toddlers, as well as create a safe learning space for children.
You will also learn how to maintain and clean the specific room you are allocated. This includes sanitisation and cleaning toddlers (i.e. nappy changing) regularly. In some cases, you will also receive work experience hours, allowing you to practice your newfound skills in a real-life early learning environment. TrainSmart Australia offers 160 hours of work experience, allowing students to become fully qualified within the early childhood sector, with the appropriate level of experience needed to perform their job in a professional setting.
Study a First Aid Course/ Unit
Learning first aid is a vital skill set to have within any educational setting. Knowing how to provide immediate first-aid and/or resuscitation for children can help avoid near-fatal accidents faster and save lives in the process. Courses that specialise in early childhood care or Health and Community Services often include an additional unit to help teach students the basics of first aid.
TrainSmart Australia’s Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care comes with HLTAID012 Provide First Aid in an education and care setting, an external unit designed to teach students the fundamentals of providing first aid to young students. You will learn the appropriate techniques [approved by the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC)] for responding to first-aid emergencies (i.e. Asthma, anaphylactic emergencies, etc.) for infants, toddlers, and younger children.
Having a qualification/certificate will help immensely in propelling your career in early childhood education, and can be helpful when starting your business as appropriate documentation.
Step 2: Complete procedures required to operate your early childhood business
Now that you have the proper qualifications and skillset under your belt, the next thing to do is to become familiar with the government rules and regulations needed to properly operate your business. You will also need the correct documentation required to provide early childhood services to children.
By law, all family care businesses currently operating must ensure that their business meets the following legal requirements:
- Early Learning facilities must supervise 7 children (maximum) at a time, with a maximum of 4 children preschool age or under in the group
- Children are well supervised and are not left alone with visitors or leave your home/facility without an authorised person (such as a parent/adult guardian)
- Children are not exposed to tobacco, illicit drugs, or alcohol and have access to healthy food and clean drinking water
- Harmful discipline practices are not conducted under any circumstances
- Proper hygiene practices must be performed within the centre (i.e. sanitisation, rubbish removal, etc.)
- A first aid kit must be in close reach in case of emergency
When applying for a license or grant for your early childhood business, having the correct documentation can help prove your professional capability for operating your own business. Some of these documents needed for approval include:
- a current Police/ Criminal Record
- a valid Working with Children check
- a recognised qualification (e.g. Certificate III/Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care)
- a valid first-aid certificate (see ‘Study First Aid Course/Unit’ segment above)
Step 3: Setup your Early Childhood Business
After successfully acquiring the correct documents and fully understanding the current rules and regulations for operating an early childhood centre, you are now ready to start setting up your services. To start you are going to need the following things: space, staff, supplies, and a strategic business plan. These things are vital for any functional early childhood business to operate.
Types of Early Childhood Services
When beginning to plan out your own early childhood business, it’s important to understand the various types of care services currently available that you can offer. Some examples of childcare services include:
- Long-Day Care: Full-day/ Part-time care services for children. Often performed in approved centres
- Family Day Care: Approachable and affordable childcare, which organises activities for children and infants. They can often run in the owner’s household or a publicly owned space.
- Preschool/ Kindergarten: Structured childcare service for children who are yet to start primary school. These services usually run 2-3 days per week.
- Occasional Care: Offers flexible care which allows parents to meet their work-related and non-work commitments with ease.
Find an appropriate location
The next step comes with finding the right space where you will operate your business. This can be done in an appropriate property or your home. It’s important to make sure that the building you choose is spacious, allowing you to spread out your classroom for students to learn and play. You must also ensure that your space meets appropriate regulations (see ‘Government Regulations’ segment) and child safety requirements (see ‘Childproof your facility’) in order to run your services properly.
Make a business plan
When establishing a business of any kind (whether for-profit or non-profit), it is important to have a detailed business outline or strategy plan. Your business plan should include all the financial and logistical aspects of your business as well as outline future goals and expectations your business aims to fulfill in the future.
To start, your plan should start with a mission statement, as well as a description of the procedures you will perform to run your business. Your plan should also break down the budget of your business, by analysing the costs needed for the early learning business to operate and make a profit.
Having a comprehensive business plan can help you with evaluating the goals of your early childhood business as well as evaluate the services you offer for children and parents alike. This will also help when applying for grants, as it provides a breakdown of how your business operates and functions, while also explaining the social benefit your business has within your community.
Now that you have established the costs and procedures required to run your business, it is now time to go shopping for everything you will need to operate. This part is fairly straightforward, as you just need to buy everything required to run your centre efficiently. This ranges from the necessary items for the children, like beds/cots, toys, tables, drawing/art supplies, and nutritious food. You’ll also need to spend a fair bit on nappies (lots of them), depending on the size of your student group, so buying a few changing stations is an almost essential purchase for your early childhood business.
It is also important to buy plenty of cleaning supplies, which you will need to keep your place neat and tidy. This includes items such as rubbish bags/bins, wipes, sprays, and even pest control items.
If you want to go one step further, and have the appropriate space for it, you may even be keen to buy some play equipment for children to interact and play with.
Childproof your space
When you start setting up your care business, it’s good to make sure that anything hazardous to young children is taken care of. This includes:
- covering exposed power points with plastic outlet protectors
- setting up barriers for outdoor areas to prevent children from leaving unsupervised
- cleaning unwanted dirt or dust left in a classroom
- install cushioning over furniture and hard surfaces (e.g. hard floors, jagged walls)
- keeping heavy cleaning supplies in a hard to reach location (e.g. different room, out of reach storage shelf)
- install functional smoke detectors
- avoid using tablecloths, which can be tugged easily, for housing heavy items (e.g. decoration vases, lamps)
Hire and Train Staff
Hiring additional staff can help ease the processes of running your early learning business. Even if it’s with a small group of children, there will be some tasks that you cannot do on your own. Hiring more trained staff means that you can help supervise more children, allowing you to divide your operations and potentially grow your business. On average, you would only need to employ an additional 1-2 staff member(s), depending on the size of your business.
When hiring staff, you must make sure that they too have the same documents mentioned earlier (see above) that you will also need to run your business (e.g. police checks, academic qualifications, etc.). The most important of these is a valid Working with Children Check (WWCC). This is a screening process that ensures that potential employees are mentally appropriate to supervise and oversee groups of young children.
Upon employing your new supervising staff, you will then be tasked with running all staff members through the procedures and training for operating the business and supervising children regularly. By doing this, you will help the staff understand how the business runs as well as their roles within it. At this point, you should now have a fully-functional early childhood centre.
Step 4: Get Funding and Financial Services
As you may have noticed by now, running a business like this can be expensive. Training new staff, buying supplies, and renting out the space needed to operate your business are all going to set you back financially. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to get the financial assistance you need to kickstart your care business earlier on.
How much does an early childhood centre cost?
When weighing the overall cost of running a childcare business, there are a few factors we must consider. Depending on the scale of your business, you will need to have a budget of around $180,000-$200,000 to operate. If you are operating your business from home, with a smaller group, you should be ok with paying a lot less and earning more on an average childcare salary (i.e. $120-160/day).
Larger businesses that provide long-form care services on a rented or purchased space will also have to take into consideration the cost of land (especially if you are building the facility from scratch), staffing, security, and equipment (‘Buy Equipment’ segment for more info). The average cost to build and open an early learning centre can often range anywhere from $700,000 to $800,000+, and that does not even cover the cost of the land itself. The location of your business can greatly impact this price, as city surroundings are going to cost more compared to more suburban and rural areas.
If you plan of opening a functional early childhood business, you are most certainly going to need to apply for insurance. Insurance is important as it helps protect your business from any accidents, property damages, or injuries that may occur. The type of insurance plans you will need mainly depends on the kind of services your facility will provide.
Some notable insurance plans include situations such as fire damage, theft, electrical equipment, money, management liability, and so on.
By law, all educational and care facilities in Australia must provide proof of the following insurance; Public Liability ($10 million min. per claim), Workers’ Compensation, and Professional Indemnity ($5 million min. per claim).
One of the best ways to get your childcare business funded is by researching the government funding programs currently available for early childhood educators in Australia. There is currently a wide range of national funding and subsidy plans in each state, allowing various childcare providers funding for equipment, land, and other resources needed to start a childcare business. In some of these programs, the cost parents need to pay to have children enrolled in your care services is reduced, meaning you get the full cost back from the government.
One good example of this is the Early Childhood Services Subsidy program in Northern Territory. This subsidy covers the cost for early learning providers to provide their services, by reducing the cost parents pay for your services.
A more detailed list of early education government grants provided (by state) can be found here.
Step 5: Promote your business
By this point, you would now have the expertise, knowledge, setup, and funding required to fully operate your early childhood centre. All that is left to do is promote and market your business to as many people as possible. When it comes to marketing your business, thousands of resources are available for small businesses to advertise themselves, both online and on traditional media sources (ie. TV and Print).
Create a website
The first thing you will need to get your business recognised online is your very own website. In this modern age where nearly anything can be done online, almost every business has a website. Your website will be your go-to domain for customers and families to search for your business and the services you provide. You can also use your site to showcase your facility, with photos and videos which demonstrate the kind of environment children will be nurtured in.
Finally, your website should have a ‘Contact Us’ page, which provides visitors with your business contact details to better inform people of where they should go next if they want to enrol their children in your services.
What’s more, there are multiple resources available online for you to create your business website fast. Some of these are free website builders (ie. Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, etc.), which allow you to create dynamic websites with ease. Most of these sites do come with optional payment plans which give you access to exclusive bonuses (i.e.. custom URL domain, bigger media storage space, better templates, etc.). Nonetheless, you can still create a beautiful and dynamic webpage, which showcases your business in all its glory, at no extra cost.
Using Social Media
Using social media is an excellent way of generating business online and building an audience of loyal customers. Setting up a social media business account (whether it’s through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tiktok, etc.) is pretty simple and costs nothing, allowing you to get started in promoting your business online.
What you plan on posting on social media is entirely up to how you aim to promote your early childhood business to people online. On platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can post photos and videos of your facility and business in action, giving viewers an idea of the services you offer. You can use social media platforms to post updates on special events, offers, and changes in opening hours. You can even use it to mention testimonials from previous customers who gave your business a heart-warming 5-star review.
Overall, think of social media as your way of giving your business a voice that your audience can relate to. As you are mostly targeting families and parents who want to make sure their children are properly supervised while away/at work, you should aim at promoting your business as a safe and nurturing environment for children. Posting text and visual media posts on your socials that emphasises how you can help your core audience will help promote your business to more families who need it. This is vital in helping you to gain business long-term.
You might be unsure at first about advertising your early learning centre on print media, especially with your business already being advertised online. Regardless, consider investing in print advertising as a way to further broaden your audience. Newspaper advertising is a tried and true method of promoting businesses of all kinds, and is a great way of generating word of mouth within communities. Even posting an ad in your local community-based newspaper can help spread the word of your business to families in the area, who are looking for an early learning centre for their children, which is conveniently located in their neighbourhood.
Study with TrainSmart Australia
TrainSmart Australia is a leading provider of diploma and certificate courses for various industries including Community Services, IT, Business and Massage Therapy.
In 2022, TrainSmart Australia will be introducing our brand new CHC30121 Certificate III in Early Childhood Learning and Care qualification, for people who want to learn how to work in the early learning sector. This is a nationally recognised qualification that offers dedicated trainer support, 160 work placement hours, and practical assessments. By the end, you will have the knowledge and practices required to work in the early learning sector. You can reach us at 1300 855 517 or [email protected]. To view our wide range of courses click here.