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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I have a home-based daycare which has grown every month since opening. I spend time and money making sure that I'm up to date on teaching techniques, health issues, etc. Yet I'm still not perceived as a professional, but rather as a "babysitter." I currently double my husband's income, and do NOT see my business as a part-time job. Any ideas how to change people's perspectives?

Linda

Answer: from our Guest Expert Terri Andrews of The Turquoise Butterfly Press

Dear Linda:

From 1989 to 1991, I tried and tried to operate a home-based daycare service, but never once made it over the so-called babysitter bump. What I lacked was organization -- and some tips from a pro who has made such a venture a success. My only solid advice to you would be to have your home, day, and business records completely organized -- that 's pretty much the extent of my knowledge within this field.

But lucky for you, I can supply you a heaping dose of professional advice from Marica Colpan, a day care professional who's managed to turn her home into a true-blue day care facility. I asked if she could take some time to help you and here's what she had to say:

"Dear Linda,

This is the most difficult problem of running a daycare. I've been operating one for over four years. I also have spent money on classes, learned teaching techniques and have poured effort and money into my business only to have some unfeeling individual refer to me as a babysitter. My standard retort is, "Well, if I'm a babysitter, then I'm the best-educated and well-paid babysitter that you've ever met. I'm a daycare professional and I have the credentials to prove it."

The wall right in my foyer is filled with my credentials in frames. For me, they include my college diploma, my business license, my membership in the NFIB, my registration certificate, my food service certificate and any articles that I manage to get into the paper that mention my facility. On the opposite wall is a corkboard that I fill with my children's accomplishments and their pictures. I send out a newsletter to my parents twice a year. This does two things.

  • It verifies their addresses so I KNOW that they live where they say they do, and
  • I make sure to make it look as professional as I can and fill it with items taken from my notices that I've been sent by the government or other childcare agencies.

I also interview all potential parents in an office-like setting after they've seen the home. I have them sign contracts and fill out all the necessary forms. Then I provide them with my rules and regulations and my web-site information. And it doesn't hurt to have a business card to hand them.

Anytime I'm asked in public what I do for a living, I inform them that I'm a daycare professional. Where I do that daycare is up to me. If they press, I tell them I have a business in the lower level of my home. If you act like a pro, they'll treat you like a pro.

If anybody says, "Well, I thought of doing that too." Be sure and tell them in great detail what's involved and what you do. Bore them, if necessary. Train your husband to do the same.

Unfortunately, our country puts a very low priority on quality child daycare. I actually had a government representative ask me why I didn't just do it for free since so many people need care. I asked her if she got a paycheck. Lo and behold, she did. Daycare professionals must stand up and demand the respect we are due. It'll take time, but we can change this.

Marcia"

I hope this helps, Linda. Good luck!

Terri Andrews, Turquoise Butterfly Press

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