Writing a daycare or preschool business plan is a big task, but due diligence and hard work will help you understand what you’ll need to launch and run a daycare or preschool successfully.
What do daycare investors want?
Your local government will have rules and regulations you’ll need to follow as a small business owner and childcare provider. Start by reviewing the childcare licensing guidelines for your state and city. Once you’re clear on licensing guidelines, you’re ready to start writing your childcare business plan.
The purpose of a business plan is to help secure funding. You’ll likely need financing to launch your preschool or daycare, especially if you want to avoid the monthly repayment of a loan.
Investors provide businesses with money in exchange for partial ownership. As a result, they expect a larger return on their initial investment. Because many investors work in business, they prefer to invest in an established company.
Most investors look for:
- Industry background and experience
- Financial performance and promise
Industry background and experience
Investors want to make money. Therefore, they are more inclined to work with experienced entrepreneurs and business owners to guarantee a return on their investment.
This might sound discouraging for those with little experience or without a business management background, but the opportunity doesn’t end there. You could consider bringing on a partner with a business background. Additionally, many investors act as a source of business advice.
Financial performance and promise
You need to demonstrate that your business will make money. Investors will likely want to see signs of business growth before they give you money.
Additionally, investors will want to know about your financial stability. Questions an investor might ask are:
- What do you plan to do with the money?
- Has your business been up or down in recent years?
- Is your company losing money? Are there signs of growth for the future?
- How do you plan to repay your investment?
Of course, every investor is different, so they’ll consider various factors. While experience and financial promise are at the top of the list for most investors, they might also look for uniqueness, business readiness, an effective business model, and more.
Writing a daycare business plan
We’ve discussed licensing and investors. Now, you’re ready to begin the framework of your business plan for daycares and preschools. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Business description
- Needs assessment
- Insurance policies
- Operating policies and procedures
- Marketing strategy
Start with the basics: what does your daycare do? Detailing the service you’re offering will help you create a clear business plan. Next, you might want to write some goals or even a mission statement outlining your purpose and motivation.
Start by looking at general daycare or preschool industry trends, then narrow your scope to the preschools or daycares in your local area. Next, you’ll need to figure out who your target customers are and confirm that there is a need for a business like yours in your community.
Are there a lot of young families in your neighborhood? Are you located somewhere convenient for commuting parents? Does your business offer a specific service that your competitors don’t, like early check-in or extended hours?
Also, check out the competition. Research the existing daycare or preschool options in your community. Look at current preschool or daycare business plan samples. What makes your daycare or preschool unique?
Developing detailed budgets will help you run your small business. You’ll need to compare your current cash flow and expenditures to determine whether you’ll make a profit.
Build a budget for unexpected costs. For example, how many children do you need to serve to be able to pay your bills and stay afloat? Child Care Aware of America offers some terrific budgeting resources for this process.
Depending on the type and size of your preschool, you’ll need insurance policies of several different types, including liability, property, workers’ compensation, and business insurance. Check the licensing requirements for guidance in building this part of your preschool business plan.
Operating policies and procedures
Create a comprehensive handbook for families and staff that includes you center's policies and procedures. For instance, you'll need to develop an emergency plan, daycare sick policy, and other safety protocols according to your local childcare licensing requirements.
Your staff handbook will be a helpful resource your employees can reference and include all your employment policies including work and pay schedules, benefits, and information about professional growth and development. You can also include information on your center's philosophy and curriculum, classroom procedures, and expectations for working with children and families.
Your marketing strategy is the key to attracting customers. Decide what type of advertising you will use in front of potential customers. For example, list your school in local directories and participate in parenting and kid-friendly community events. Run a social media campaign focusing on your target population.
Another big part of childcare business marketing is differentiating yourself from other preschools. These days adopting daycare software is a surefire way to attract families with young children. A tool like brightwheel's center management feature will streamline your center's admission process, record keeping, and reporting, saving you up to 20 hours per month.
You can also use brightwheel for recording and tracking daily events and activities, and sending real-time updates to families throughout the day. It also offers secure, digital check-in/check-out and a paperless billing system. This is a great way to keep your families looped in on daily activities and handle all of your administrative tasks in one place.
Your business is ready!
Writing a business plan can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you secure the proper licensing, use the information in this article to guide you through creating a solid daycare business plan that drives investors and financing to your business.
These are just the basics to get you started. For further information, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website has detailed instructions on creating each necessary part of a successful business plan.