The importance of business growth and development seems like a no-brainer but understanding the level of success isn't always clear-cut. Many business coaches will tell you that many leaders attain a certain level of success, remaining content to stay at this plateau. Many feel assured of their space within the business market, offering little motivation to change anything. Unfortunately, this is risky for a business leader, as growth isn't simply crucial for a company; it's essential. Without continued growth, many operations will stagnate. The results include lowered standards of services, decreased morale, and other issues.
Growth is critical for the long-term survival of any business, especially childcare. It enables customer acquisition, resource development, and ongoing products or services. Growth will also boost the business's credibility. Finally, effective growth will continue to stave off potentially harmful influences within market fluctuations and the national economy.
Understanding the Risks and Opportunities
Unfortunately, growth isn't possible without inherent risks. A growing business strongly correlates to marketing, hiring, finance, and sales for individuals valuing personal control. It makes micromanaging virtually impossible.
Additionally, successful growth is a powerful reminder that no one can oversee and monitor all aspects of the business. Business owners must relinquish control to maintain operational functions. Hiring well-trained and talented subordinates can mitigate these concerns.
Finally, business growth can remove the personal touch with customers. These complaints often start within the customer service department or loss of services along the way. It's a stark reminder that individuals must adhere to strict business principles throughout the growing process.
How to sustain, develop and nurture your business
The easiest way to grow your childcare business is through planning and development. These steps break it down into actionable functions, outlined below:
Plan for Growth
After the business is established, identifying different tactics to grow your business is essential. Many childcare companies focus on increased sales, but it's important to identify how to maintain or improve profitability. These methods include the following methods:
- Identifying different ways to increase your sales with existing and new clients
- Developing new services through research and testing with customers
- Improving services by researching or testing changes with clients
- Looking for additional funding sources, such as new investors or passive income.
As your business grows, you must register for VAT, significantly if the VAT-taxable turnover exceeds £85,000.
Secure Extra Funding
To grow your business, you'll need more significant investment. To accomplish this, consider the following tactics:
- Taking out a loan
- Selling any shares to outside investors
- Investing any previous profits back into the business
- Identify other sources of financing, including government-backed schemes.
A professional adviser can help business owners establish whether it makes sense to take on investments or loans. Always receive legal advice before taking on new investments for the company.
Taking Out a Loan
Ensure your company can pay back the debt before securing a loan. Repayments will often occur as instalments over several years, including any accrued interest. Lenders may require a personal guarantee to hand over the assets should you default on the loan if you remain the sole trader for the loan.
Selling Business Shares
When considering new investors, they'll want to understand how much the business can increase its value when buying shares. An investor will need to know how much an investment will grow with your sales and profits. Influences in sales will typically occur after taking on additional costs. As such, you'll need to provide lenders and investors with financial models, including how the business will spend the extra money and the influence of initial costs affecting your cash flow.
Increase Sales with Existing Customers
Increasing your company's sales will largely depend on the different circumstances and how a business performs. For instance, you may focus on the current client or try to secure new customers in the local area.
The easiest way to increase sales is to sell more services to your clients. For most businesses, this sales process might include the following:
- Convincing one-time customers to become regular consumers
- Identifying customers who stopped using your services and trying to win them back
- Selling more of the same products or services to regular clients
By maintaining records of your customers, you can determine who stopped using your services and who might be interested in reforming the dynamic. Targeting previous customers is frequently cheaper and more effective for increasing sales than trying to find new clients. Take a look at our other childcare business series blog, Marketing tips for childcare businesses.
Always Review Your Pricing Models
Estimate a price change's effect on sales, cash flow, and profitability (before making changes). To do this, assess the following details:
- Determine the facility's cost structure, including regular fixed and variable costs impacting business activity.
- Understand the value a client places on different products or services. Ensure your business regularly reviews the company's prices and checks them against any local competitors in the area.
Occasionally, discounting can reduce the overall profitability, even if sales increase. Likewise, you may be able to increase your profit by increasing the prices. Small changes in pricing (like bulk discounts and loyalty schemes) increase sales to former and existing customers.
Attract New Customers
One method of locating new customers for your services is increasing public awareness in your area. Ask customers to recommend your business to friends and colleagues to get started. Likewise, you can advertise to local media or improve other forms of marketing, including online.
Following up with potential clients who don't use the business and uncovering what it would take for them to switch is another critical component for attracting new customers.
Improving Products and Services
When you're looking to grow your business, start by focusing on your existing customers and the expected needs they hold within your company. Talk to your clients and uncover their views on what they use from your childcare facility and why they value it most. Additionally, ask them what they need to find the service more valuable and helpful.
Finally, ask your current customers what could encourage them to buy more from your business. Once you've received feedback from your clients, look at different ways to implement those changes into your current childcare settings. If possible, start the new service offerings slowly and test the success with existing customers.
Developing New Services
If you're considering new services, test them with your customers with extreme care and attention. Your approach should mimic a new business marketing a facility for the first time. Make sure there's an actual demand for what you're hoping to implement, uncovering how to fix any problems before you invest too much effort, time, and money. If other businesses compete in the area, determine what will make you different. Are you able to provide something better than what's currently available?
Hire and Train Educators and Facilitators
While your business expands, more capacity will provide a more extensive range of skills. The easiest way of achieving this is by taking on new staff or training the existing workforce. New hires can spread the workload, improve skills, and encourage expertise. Improve your business's range and level of mastery by offering comprehensive training initiatives. These opportunities will increase loyalty to the company and productivity, along with your profits overall.
11 effective ways you can grow and expand your childcare business
Parents want a reputable childcare provider, bringing unique challenges to facilities wishing to expand. Growing your business and improving enrolment starts with the initial connection you form. Online presence and word of mouth can help network prospective parents and assist in building the community.
Becoming a resource for parents is a fabulous place to start. As an ECE provider, you likely hold extensive knowledge of childcare. Sharing this knowledge and helping parents directly can improve your business overall.
1. Create and Share Content
Become a valuable resource for prospective families by developing or sharing educational content. There are extensive options available for promoting your business, especially online. These might include starting a webinar, blog, or other educational resources.
2. Share Content Online
Creating new content isn't always the most straightforward option unless you have a writer available on hand. Instead, share reliable content you find through educational resources. These content pieces might include parenting tips, activities, safety methods, etc. Anything you currently hold knowledge in is a solid place to start.
3. Host or Sponsor Different Events
An event is a great way to interact with prospective families and connect with the local community. These activities might include a field trip, sponsoring local events, donating or volunteering, and holding workshops.
4. Ask for Feedback
Reviews can help families determine how the facility fits within their core beliefs and functioning. Consumers rely on word-of-mouth to get a truthful scope of experiences. Ask your current clients for direct feedback, including any essential specifics.
5. Connect with the ECE Community
A massive ECE community is available for resources, questions, or ideas. Connect with the community if you'd like to grow your childcare business. Start by asking other owners to help and build a network of experts.
6. Embrace Technology and let go of paperwork
Parents often look for a childcare centre that makes things more accessible overall. Look for comprehensive software that integrates cloud-based technology with the latest childcare functionality. The software should offer paperless functionality, such as Online registrations forms for Childcare, including payment processing, check-in and check-out functionality, daily reporting, and calendar management. Childcare business software, like Cheqdin, provides an easy-to-use interface that tailors to the early education realm.
7. Improve Your Website's Homepage
Ninety-six per cent of all visitors to your website will determine whether they'd like to enrol in your service within a few seconds. With most individuals searching online before deciding, having a visible and complete website is essential to business growth. Make sure the platform uses SEO and allows simplified client access.
8. Focus on the Scalability of the Business
It's always easier to believe that the immediate solution will be the best resource, but that isn't always the case. Should time, money, or expertise be in short supply, it's often easiest to go with the cheapest options. Unfortunately, the most straightforward option usually results in a patchwork maze of repeated inefficient systems that appear economical but cost you long-term.
9. Take Calculated Risks
Your small childcare business isn't without risk. Shifting outside your comfort zone is often necessary to make the best decisions. Focus on the end goal and proactively identify potential roadblocks ahead of time. Doing this will make you successful, even when the next move feels intimidating.
10. Invest in Your Staff
Building beyond your current level is always a big step. Although there's always an adjustment period, establishing a culture and staff of dedicated employees will pay off long term. If you talk to others who have grown the small business, you'll soon learn that a network of informative people can help make expansion a reality.
11. Remain Financially Savvy
The most successful businesses must watch their bottom line, leaving extra padding in the budget for things overlooked or unaccounted for in the expansion. Small things can derail your budget. Make sure you keep your eyes on the bigger picture without losing focus on your bottom line. Investments need to make sense of your aspirations and the bank account.
Depending on your business needs, plenty of resources are available from government-backed schemes. These include help with taxes, regional help, or writing a business plan.
Individuals in England can contact the government's Business Support Helpline for free advice. Additional resources are also available through the growth hub. These Growth Hubs support local businesses facing cost-of-living challenges.
Scotland also offers business support online or over the phone. Their online resources are a comprehensive guide to running a business, including advice, food security contacts, and more.
Consider using a government-funded program or private initiative if you're looking for funding sources to help your childcare business. Business owners can access emergency loans and tax relief in the United States, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These loans will vary, depending on where you're located. According to USA.gov, individuals can choose emergency funding options and available financing opportunities.
Business owners may choose venture capital, angel investment, bootstrapping, or business loans or lines of credit for those living in Australia. All funding options hold different benefits and drawbacks, depending on what the owner needs from the funding.
Anyone with a business understands the importance of long-term survival, especially within the childcare spectrum. Growth enables resource development, customer acquisition, and resource development, especially regarding product and service development. Your business's growth will boost credibility long-term, defining you as an industry leader. Finally, carefully considered growth will continue to offset the potentially harmful influences of market fluctuations and the national economy.
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