The good thing about starting a day care centre in urban and semi urban parts of India is that the business is pretty lucrative from the financial point of view. With both parents holding jobs in the present day, they need a safe place where they can confidently leave their baby when they are off to work.
For most of the parents today, day care centres are a requirement rather than a choice. So, if you can make it work, your day care centre can become a successful business enterprise.
The baby steps
If you have a spacious home, you can conveniently start a day care centre right at home. However, there are certain aspects that you need to keep in mind.
Investment – You have to spend some money even if you start the day care centre at home. To estimate approximate costs, you need to draw up a business plan. The number of children you enrol, the facilities that you plan to provide and money spent on licenses and permits make up the initial cost. The initial budget should also allot funds for marketing and advertisements, ongoing costs and money for unexpected expenses.
Calculate your monthly expenditure and fix monthly fee accordingly. Monthly expense involve salary for staff, power costs, transportation costs if you arrange a van for picking up kids and other miscellaneous expenses.
In order to have a more trendy impact on parents, you can invest in a website, albeit a simple one. It gives a more professional appeal for your venture. Also, parents who wish to find out about your day care centre can visit your website and obtain all information. It not only saves you a time and effort, but also helps you put forth your objectives and vision with more clarity. You can also post latest developments in your business on the website.
You need a business bank account. Make sure that you keep track of all payments and bills because your income is taxable.
Decide age group – Day care centres can enrol kids aged between 3 months and 3 years. You need to keep in mind that taking care of very little babies is a very difficult task. You will also require special furniture and infrastructure, in addition to hiring more staff.
If you are not up to it, you can decide to take children aged between one year and three years. These kids are easier to manage, although they are more demanding. Also, since these kids run around, they need more open space. The choice should be based on your resources.
Decide working hours – Working hours can begin from 8 AM and go on up to late in the evening. Decide the duration that you can allot for the business. Since the day care centre is in your home, it is important to ensure that your venture does not affect your home life.
Space requirement – The number of children you enrol depends on the space available in your home. According to standards, you should provide 20 to 25 square feet of space for every child. So, if you have a room of size 20’ x 10’, you can easily accommodate up to ten kids and not more than that. Use this standard as a benchmark to decide on the number of kids you can enrol.
The room in your home needs to be prepared for the day care centre. Some important steps need to be taken to child-proof the room. The first thing to do is remove all electrical points from the reach of children.
Close the existing points using electrical tapes. Cover gaps in the railings so that kids will not slip through. You should also set up fire safety measures in your home so that kids can be quickly evicted if disaster strikes. In fact, this is one of the basic requirements when you apply for licensing.
Secondly, do not keep objects with sharp edges in the room. Use furniture with rounded edges. Thirdly, you can think of renovating the room using bright colours, posters and stickers on the walls.
If your home has an outdoor space, use it optimally. Arrange outdoor playing equipment so that kids get adequate amount of physical activity. However, make sure that the area is safe. Do not use balconies and terraces as play areas unless they are perfectly safe.
Curriculum – The curriculum is entirely your decision. The activities you plan should be age specific and educative. Make a time table for different activities such as meal time, play time and sleep time. You need to plan lessons for teaching alphabet, numbers, picture identification and rhymes.
Furniture and equipment – You can look around for options for furniture. Equipment and furniture requirements depend on the age group of kids in your day care. General furniture requirements include comfortable and safe chairs, round tables, high chairs and mats. Furniture that you can use to store games, toys and other things is important. You can have a small dining area as well. For smaller kids, you need cribs and changing tables.
You need to invest in toys and playing equipment depending on the age of kids. Your shopping list should include utensils such as plates, cups and spoons. Make sure that you buy lots of craft supplies, brainy games, books, puzzles and other games that stimulate the child’s mind.
Food – Decide whether you want to provide food in your day care centre. Although it is a hassle, providing food can be good for the business. However, you need to invest additionally to hire a cook and train him or her to cook specially for kids. Since your business is still in the nascent stage, you can avoid providing food and request parents to pack things that their kids like to eat. Your staff can feed the kids. This is an easier and better option. However, stock some chocolates and healthy snacks that could be very handy when kids get cranky.
Hygiene – Hygiene is the most important aspect that you need to ensure. The entire premise has to be spotlessly clean. Train yourself and the staff in the right methods of hand wash, diapering, training kids to use the toilet and sterilising articles used for eating. Check out hygiene regulations and follow them precisely.
First aid training – Small kids are prone to accidents. Your staff and you should be trained in first aid for common falls and injuries. Know when to call an ambulance and how to prepare reports about the injury. Practice evacuation procedure with kids so that you are ready at the time of emergencies. To give your business venture an extra edge, tie up with a paediatrician and ask the doctor to come in for monthly visits to your day care centre.
Staff – Optimally, you need to maintain 1:5 student-staff ratio, which means that for every five kids, you need one employee. In addition, you need one person exclusively to do the cleaning work because children can be messy and lack of hygiene can make kids fall sick.
Seek out people who are experienced in child care. Although they might cost you more, the benefits you obtain from their experience can be invaluable. Before you hire staff, make sure that you check their recommendation letters and ensure that they are trustworthy.
If you have more than 20 members in the staff, you need to follow rules of provident fund payments and Payment of Bonus act 1965. As per this law, you need to pay one month wages as bonus once a year. The minimum wage as per rules for each member of the staff varies from state to state. The minimum limit is INR 80 in most of the places.
Transportation – Transportation is an optional facility, although it can be very beneficial for business. See if your budget allows you to arrange a van or a minibus to pickup and drop off kids. However, there are risks involved. Moreover, you need additional licenses for a van.
Arm yourself with the required skills
Dealing with kids can be an uphill task if you have no idea how to handle them. If you have no experience in babysitting, you should consider taking a crash course in it.
Begin with reading about child psychology. Browse through the Internet and read experiences of other people who run day care centres at home. Join discussions on forums and obtain tips about how to handle cranky kids.
There are several webinars and seminars on the Internet that can serve as a crash course in babysitting. Sign up for online lessons as well. These lessons make you aware of different behavioural problems in kids. So, you can identify such problems and handle kids accordingly.
In addition, you can visit other people who run day care centres in your city and talk to them about the practical aspects of running this business.
One of the inherent skills you need is patience and genuine love towards kids. The day care centre will not work well if you look at it only as a business enterprise. Rather, you should have it in you to be gentle and loving towards kids. Taking short term courses can equip you with the special skills required to tackle problematic children.
Type of business
You can register your business as a sole proprietorship business or a partnership business. If you are in the business alone, register as a sole proprietorship. You will be solely responsible for the entire business in this case.
If you plan to start the business along with a business associate, your day care centre should be registered under a partnership company.
If you want to register a company, it takes up to 4 weeks and requires a down payment of around INR 35,000. The laws governing partnership ventures and company registration are more complex. The day care is to be registered with the RoC (Registrar of Companies), India.
The basic requirement is PAN (Permanent Account Number). You can apply for a PAN card with the Income Tax department. In addition, you need VAT number (Value Added Tax) and TAN (Tax Deductible and Collection Number). These three are the basic requisites for any business that is launched in India.
Safety and hygiene regulations need to be fulfilled in order to obtain permission for the centre. Before the license and permits are issued for your day care centre, an officer visits your premise and checks its suitability for the venture.
There is nothing in the law that forbids starting a day care in residential areas. Since you run the school in a residential area, you need to produce proof of address which can either be your home ownership documents or rental agreement.
If you reside in apartments, make sure that the apartment association has no objection. As long as you do not cause disturbance to other residents in the building, you should have no problem obtaining their permission.
There are a number of day care companies offering franchises in India. These franchises require an investment to the tune of over INR 500,000. In addition, you need to pay a fixed fee on a monthly basis for every child enrolled in the day care.
Although you need to spend substantial money for this, the good thing is that the parent company helps you set up the entire infrastructure. You also receive furniture and equipment from the franchise, along with a short training in running the business.
Another advantage is that you get almost instant reputation because you run a branded day care centre. Parents trust your centre more easily. You don’t have to actually start from scratch.
If you wish to tie up with such franchisers, you can contact them personally and get to know all the terms and conditions. Make sure that you understand all the terms before signing up.
Advertising is a major requirement. Plan an advertising campaign much before the launch of the centre. Use local print media, online marketing and other channels to spread word about your venture. Advertising goes a long way in ensuring a successful beginning.
Things to keep in mind
Prepare a business plan that includes every detail about the business, including initial investment, operational costs, working methodologies, goals and projected targets
- Remember to obtain every required permit and license
- Give high priority to safety and hygiene
- Do not neglect training yourself and your staff
- Maintain strong relationships with parents. They give you the maximum publicity and advertising
Finally, remember that your enterprise can work only if you genuinely love kids, especially the cranky little problematic ones.
As always, the information above is meant only as a guide and if you are seriously considering starting a child nursery then we recommend you get some professional business advice.
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