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How to start a nursery

It's no easy route to riches, but if you love working with kids then setting up a nursery could be for you - here we cover how to open a nursery...

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What is a nursery business and what type of entrepreneur is it suited to?

A nursery is a pre-school childcare facility and is staffed by trained carers. They are typically open all year round and all day to cater for working or busy parents.

But, if you aren’t sure about committing to a full-time business, there are other ways that you could be involved in childcare. For instance, setting up a creche could be a more flexible way for you to benefit from the advantages of running a nursery with added flexibility. A creche typically operates on non-domestic premises and by setting up a creche you’re typically catering for parents who need their children to be looked after longer than school hours, so this could be a breakfast club or after school club for instance.

You could even set up as a self-employed childminder at home, read our guide on how to become a childminder here. Not all require you to be fully trained or to work full-time. But anyone caring for children under the age of eight will need to be registered with the local authority.

If you’re a student looking for a part-time business opportunity or side hustle in the childcare industry or are considering becoming a childminder, then you could also look to marketplaces like Student Nannies  which connects students with parents who need help with childcare.

Starting a nursery is certainly not a ‘get-rich-quick’ plan. In fact, you could probably make more money driving a taxi than running a nursery. But, if you want a job – and a business – that offers hourly challenges and a lot of rewards then setting up a nursery could be just right for you.

It may be worth considering seeing if you can get a Start Up Loan (external site, opens in new tab) to help you with financing, and mentoring on how to open a nursery.

It is a business that tends to attract working parents – either because they think they could do a better job than the nurseries already on offer, or because they discover that there is nothing available in the area at all.

The benefits of starting a nursery business

After her children were born, Kate Willink decided to leave her job as a management accountant but kept on some work by doing the books for the local nursery. When one of the nursery nurses left, she decided to open a nursery called The Wooden Horse in Easingwold, North Yorkshire.

“I couldn’t go back to my job,” she explained, as the hours that she worked meant that she would never see her children. “This is the next best thing. It isn’t as much money but I get other things from it. It is mine and my partner’s business and I get to see the children develop.”

The potential drawbacks of starting a nursery business

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that looking after your own children will give you the experience necessary to open a nursery. You need to have the patience of a saint. One child screaming or crying can be tiring, but imagine 20 or more kids all competing for your attention.

You will also need endless enthusiasm and energy to set up a nursery. Don’t expect to win prizes for your fashion sense either. Nappy changing and baby feeding could soon spoil your best clothes. But if you can cope with the tears and tantrums, this is a business that offers much more than financial gain.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.