Building Day Care – The Journey
“MOMs”, Are you wondering whether you should step into the realm of entrepreneurship? Do you have that never ceasing self-doubt, anxiety and fear of failure? Here we are with a success story which would not only inspire you but would rekindle all your hopes and dreams of doing something on your own.
Pursuing entrepreneurship for women has never been easy. They have always been discouraged by the mainstream society being confined into kitchen and house chores. But times are changing and they clearly proved they were not inadequate, rather more capable when it comes to managing business besides taking care of their family.
Starting a home business would be good choice for Moms. It offers more flexibility and benefits working from home, looking after family affairs equally. We guess you want to know more and we cant wait to share as well. We are privileged to have a successful mompreneur who started her own day care enterprise and made her mark touching lives of children.
Lets introduce Kat Lehmkuhl and know how she started her wondrous journey into building her dream daycare KAT-IN-THE-HAT..
When did you think of starting your own venture?
I started my daycare about 2 years after my third child was born. I had a job as a cashier in the local grocery store, but I had Fibromyalgia and standing on concrete for 8 hours a day was too painful. I continued working as a cashier on weekends so that I could build my daycare business during the week. Once I made enough to offset the cashier salary, I was able to quit the grocery store job and just do daycare.
Why Day care, why not some other businesses?
Kids are hilarious! Their minds work in such innocent ways and their views are sometimes enlightened without them trying. I have always been the person that likes to take care of others, a nurturer, and I seemed to gravitate towards jobs where I took care of others. I was a secretary in the office, I was a customer service person, I was a cashier and aided customers in finding products. The daycare, much like those jobs, allowed me to be of service to others, to have a purpose in life other than making money and it allowed me to be home with my kids and balance my life in that way.
What/Who was the inspiration behind this idea of starting a business?
A women I met that was a customer ran her own daycare. She let me know what was involved in starting one and what to expect. Being a mom of three at that time, my oldest being 10, I knew what to expect in a job taking care of a child, so it was not scary or new. I went to our county government office after that and received all the information I needed to begin.
How much did you research before starting your enterprise?
I went to our county government office and received a ton of information on what forms were needed, how to file taxes, and how, legally to open a daycare. I wanted to be honest in my business dealings. There are a lot of women who do this, apparently, who do not file taxes for their income.
One thing that I believe earned the trust of some of the parents was when I told them that I have a professional tax person and that I am honest in my business dealings. A lot of the work in getting a client is gaining their trust. Their child’s safety and life are in your hands. Trust is a must.
What was the most difficult thing about building your business and how did you overcome it?
I have come across people who would use my service and then leave midweek without paying. Any type of communication that I tried to use to get in touch with them was blocked.
From there, I started asking for the money at the beginning of the week, before service was rendered. This way, there was no skipping out on payment. Once a level of trust is established, then I move the payment due to the end of the week.
What goes behind a parent’s mind before selecting a day care service according to your observations?
A parent wants to ensure that their child feels comfortable with the daycare person and with the home in general. They look at the home to make sure that it is safe and feels calm and in control. Pets are also a factor. I have lost potential clients because I have cats and their child or they may be allergic. Having a folder of the necessary forms already printed, a daily care sheet, that I will attach, will also help show professionalism and attention to detail. You are, first and foremost, a business, so professionalism has to be shown.
How do you balance your entrepreneur life with friends and family?
Actually, I always worked outside the home before I started my daycare, so I found it very difficult to balance home and work. Especially when my kids got sick. I was usually the one to stay home with them and I was almost always in a bad spot with my attendance because of this. Two kids can do that. I knew with three kids, this was going to be harder.
Being home with my kids while I ran the daycare was the cure to that. I was physically there for them and was able to watch them grow. The children that I watched were my kids’ friends as well. I was able to be there when my kids were sick and take care of them while I did my job. Of course, if they were too sick to be around the other kids, I would call off for that day. My clients had backup plans in case that happened.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in starting their own daycare business?
Do your research on what is required in your community. Check out tax requirements. Put items that will break or have sentimental value to you away or up high. Know that even though you are being interviewed by the parent, you are also interviewing them in return.
The kids and the parents are going to interact with you almost daily. Make sure that the kids are a good match to other kids you have and are not bullies. Make sure the parents will not be difficult to interact with or to please. Check for any allergies as well.
I let the kids play with each other. I interact with them, but I do not believe in getting on the floor with the kids and playing. You are to be seen as the boo-boo kisser and the one in charge. Not as another child. It is OK to show them how to play, but if you have several kids playing together, it is best to let them interact with each other and to learn social skills in that manner.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
I love to crochet baby blankets and each of my daycare kids receive one. Those that are not given to the daycare kids, I give to the local hospital when I get a good amount of them. Crocheting is something I can do while watching the kids.
I also write poetry and stories.
What philosophy do you live by?
We are here to take care of each other.
Everything happens for a reason.
The Universe takes care of those who take care of others.
Life is school. We are here to learn.
We believe her entrepreneurial journey gave you hope, courage and guidance. She was so kind to share a daily activity form which would help you immensely if you ever plan to start your own day care business. Just mail us with the subject “Day care form” and we will send it to you.
Its never too late to start what you dreamt once. A mom can do anything and everything, because she is a mom and when she comes into business she infuses more empathy and compassion making world a better place.