Starting your childminding business
Planning and organisation are vital when starting any small business and childminding is no exception. Aside from the childcare elements of being a childminder, there are business considerations to factor in. Here are some top tips to get you started. If you're thinking of opening a setting on non-domestic premises, check out our group setting tips here.
You can find information about your policies and procedures as a childminder here.
Read more about legal essentials here.
Tip one: Plan ahead
- Identify your market – investigate what parents in your area need and what other settings and other childminders offer. Check out our top tips in our promoting your business section.
- Legal structure - The legal structure you choose will have an impact on important areas of your business, such as how much tax you pay, what paperwork you need to fill out and the level of risk to your personal assets. Read our guest post from the Federation of Small Businesses, that explains what being registered as a sole trader or a limited company will mean for you.
- Find a niche. Having a USP – marketing speak for unique selling point – will set you apart from other childcarers in the area.
- Don’t forget your business plan! Producing a business plan will help pin down where you are now, where you want to be and what you need to do to get there. For more help, take a look at our guide to writing a business plan.
Tip two: Be financially savvy
Organise your finances so that you know what is coming in and what is going out. Be as detailed as you can: list your start-up costs and on-going costs.
How you will finance your start-up costs – do you have this money already or will you need to borrow it? You might be able to access a grant or other support to help you.
How much money must the business make each week and month to cover your personal and business costs? How much will you charge for your products or services? Be brutal because you will need to book-keep so as to monitor your income and expenditure from day to day. You can use this to compare your progress against your original plan and produce more accurate forecasts. Use our cost calculator to help you understand the costs associated with running a childcare business.
Tip three: Your 'office'
Although in England childminders can spend up to 50% of their time working on approved non-domestic premises, most childminders work from home. In Wales childminders only work from domestic premises, and again most from their own home.
One of the first things to do when considering starting a childcare business from home is to check your rental agreement, or the property’s deeds. You may find there are restrictions in place that require some attention before you can legally run a business from home.
There may also be restrictions in place around whether or not you can extend your existing property, if the purpose of this extension is to support your business. Learn more about property law and childminders.
Turning your home into a childminding business will mean that you need to think about your space in a different way – but childminding doesn’t necessarily have to take over your home, nor does it have to cost a fortune. See how this childminder has arranged her setting.
Read more about business planning and the things to consider here.
Tip four: Tell everyone about your business
If you're setting up a childminding business, you'll need to tell:
- Your bank. You may want to open a separate business account as soon as you can. Your bank's business adviser can also give you help and guidance on starting up and building your business.
- Your insurers. Working from home is likely to affect your home insurance and life insurance, and if you drive you will need to make sure your car is insured for business use. You must take out public liability insurance to work as a registered childminder. Find out how PACEY can help here.
- HM Revenue and Customs. You will need to register as self-employed for taxation purposes. This useful training course will help you do this. Remember to keep a secure note of your 10-digit Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number. You'll need this to sign up to offer Tax-Free Childcare. You will also need to adjust your National Insurance contributions.
- Companies House. You'll need to register your business if it's a limited company or limited liability partnership (LLP).
- Ofsted or a childminding agency (England only). If you are planning to care for children under 8 years old you will need to register with Ofsted or a childminding agency. This process can take up to 12 weeks. You will also need to complete a DBS check to do this, and have completed a pre-registration training course or have an adequate knowledge and understanding of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Read more about the registration process here.
- Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) (Wales only). If you are planning to care for children under 12 years old you will need to regsiter with CIW. This process can take up to 14 weeks from submission of the application form to CIW. You will also need to complete a DBS check to do this and have completed the relevant pre-registration training. Read more about the registration process here.
- Information Commissioner. As a childminder, you will need to register with the Information Commissioner's Office and be aware of all data protection laws for holding photos and information on the children in your care. There's more detail about the legal ins and outs of being a childminder here.
- And of course you should join PACEY! Find out more about the benefits PACEY membership brings.
Tip five: Getting your business noticed
You need to let people know you are setting up as a childminder. Consider having a website and setting up a social media business account and dedicated email address. It's worth also registering with your local Family Information Service and other childcare search directories you find useful. There's also more infomation in Business Smart about how to market and promote your business.
Make sure everyone locally knows that you are setting up a childminding business – local networks and contacts will help spread the word. What about hosting a launch event at your home and inviting friends and contacts to start off your business with a celebration?
Tip six: Have a support network
Joining PACEY is a great way of connecting with other childminders and gaining support from the advice, training and support we offer.
As a small business there are many other organisations you can call on for support:
HMRC Business Guidance
If you want to get help with tax-related issues then HMRC offers a variety of tools and guides online. Visit the HMRC for a full list of their tools and guides.
The Business Support Helpline
The UK government operates a Business Support Helpline that offers advice and guidance to new and existing businesses. It is open between Monday and Friday between 9am and 6pm and can be reached on: 0300 456 3565. Alternatively, you can use the government's Business Finance and Support Finder Tool online. It allows businesses to search for government-backed support and finance as well other mentoring services and support.
Volunteer Business Mentors
Access to 15,000 trained volunteer business mentors from the SME community to boost local mentor networks.
Business is GREAT Campaign
A campaign by the government designed to inspire small businesses to take their business plans further, and to highlight the support available to help them grow.
British Library Business Centre
This 'how to start a business from scratch' guide contains information on different aspects of setting up a business as well as running workshops and events.
A free service that provides impartial, independent support and advice to people starting, running and growing a business in Wales.