Today, I’m going to share with you the things that I wish I had known about childcare before I got started.
Number one, I wish that I understood the power of systems and binder management.
I believe that had I understood how childcare should have been set up to be managed and operated before I got started, I would have hired better staff, more qualified people. I would have made decisions that would have affected my finances in a positive manner further on down the journey, but I didn’t understand. I didn’t know that having an operational system was so key to my success.
Just like you, when I got started, I just wanted to follow the basic rules. Give the state whatever they said they needed for my licensing, and I pretended that was all I needed because I didn’t know I needed more. I also believe that if I had my binder management system in place, then I would have been able to properly train, properly hire, properly store, and preserve the financial wealth of my company by being a better manager over my paperwork.
The second thing when I look back in hindsight and wish I could have done differently, is hire a coach.
I knew nothing about hiring people, managing a business, overseeing children. I just knew I had a love for children and the opportunity came for me to care for children on a larger scale. I treated it as if this was a business that I could learn overnight, but it really wasn’t. I needed experience to be my teacher. Not book knowledge because I was taking the classes. I was in the programs where you had to go in for your credential hours each quarter. I tell you it wasn’t the credential hours that really got me to where I needed to be, it was when I got in front of an experienced leader. Someone who knew how to dispense information to me easily and effectively for me to understand what business was all about.
When I got a coach, someone to help give me a jumpstart, my world of understanding business begins to shift. I had no real knowledge of program management. Now this is key. If I could do it over again, the first person that I would listen to is someone who could teach me program management. Not just any type of business program management but my own specific industry, which was childcare. I allowed staff, parents, and children to get away with so much that now when I look back, I would say to myself learn program management quickly. People knew my level of experience without me opening my mouth, based on the decisions and what I allowed to go on around me.
For my very first year, I was pouring so much money into my academy. After years of putting money into my academy, I look back and say to myself, well where did all the money go? The material breaks, staff neglect items, children treat it as if money grows on trees. When I look back, if I’d have had better management skills, understand how to set goals, set budgets, and then purchase, I would be a lot further on than I am today.
Another strategy that I wish I had known was to have a daily habit. A daily habit and routine and rhythm. By me leading myself with daily habits, routines, and rhythms, it would have empowered me to lead my administrative team. I remember when I first got started, my admin team only did what I asked them to do, nothing more and nothing less. I didn’t have the wisdom to tell them the more to do. I really didn’t know to carry my own day. It was frustrating for me. I would go home, knowing that I worked all day but with nothing truly documented of what I accomplished for that day.
The next one is I had to put on this façade that I had it all together and that I knew what I was doing. I mean, who wants to stand in front of employees that are two times your age and say, I don’t know what I’m doing, can you help me? I know I didn’t. I really wish that I had someone that I had employed to tell me what to do. Not my employees, but a coach, a mentor or a leader. That would have made all the difference in my decisions and how I did things.
Here’s my biggest thought that I wish I had done differently. I wish I would have copied the [right cat]. Copying, they say, is so negative but it’s actually a positive when you’re copying the right people. When you’re learning how things are done the right way, when you’re duplicating the systems, when you’re duplicating the mindsets of leaders and when you’re duplicating what they ask of you or what they show you can be possible, then you’ll have the same success that they have.
For me, I want to help childcare business owners be successful. I want to show them how to set up their systems, how to have program management knowledge, skills, and abilities.