You’ve always dreamed about starting your own day care business. The perfect situation which allows you to be with your kids whilst bringing in much needed money and being your own boss. But due to fear of the unknown you haven’t done so. You’re afraid to take that risk. Here’s my tip, remove the fear. Sample the environment first, familiarise yourself with the business to see if it is something you would truly enjoy. This is the ultimate form of research, total immersion. Try to get a job or even get volunteer work at a day care (ideally one that allows staff to bring their kids or arrange a temporary child care arrangement whilst you research your potential business). Do whatever it takes to get the time off, use your vacation days, arrange a leave of absence. There is nothing like on the ground experience to figure out your suitability for a particular profession. Hands on,practical experience will introduce you to the nitty gritty of daily operations. You can learn invaluable lessons and glean tips and hints that could otherwise cause you to fall at the first hurdle. Observation and practical application is great for figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Your research period should be your sponge phase. Use it to soak up every atom of information possible. Take a copy book with you and jot down notes on your breaks, while it’s still fresh in your head. Do the same thing when you get home in the evening before you forget those little nuggets. Oogle all paperwork, policies and procedures every chance you get. There’ll be a lot so just try to remember key points for now. You can flesh that stuff out later. Just get an overview of how it all fits together. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially of the owner or more senior, experienced staff. Observe how they work, how they interact with children, parents and other staff. Try to identify different roles e.g. does each room have a keyworker and assistants? How does that work and could it be more effective? You will notice weaknesses too but use those to your advantage learning what not to do. Be aware of health and safety routines and issues. Hone in on any behavioural problems and notice what is the procedure for dealing with same. Every successful business has effective systems, policies and procedures in place enabling it to run smoothly. The same applies to day care, once you remove the fear of the unknown by immersing yourself in the daily operations of a day care all the pieces will come together in your head enabling you to get beyond the fear to a more confident and constructive place. Most importantly though, it will give you a very good idea if child care is a business in which you could thrive. Passion and interest are paramount…these are what carry you through the tough times to success. Now, what have you got to lose? Get researching. Potentially, you are gaining the perfect business for you and your family.