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Dudley's Business Toolkit

This toolkit has been created to help you develop, sustain and promote a successful business.

It includes helpful guidance on:

Business health check

This details the stages you should go through to assess how well your business is performing, highlighting your strengths and those areas that could be improved.

Once your business is established and running well, you may be inclined to let things continue as they are. It is easy to focus only on the day-to-day running of your business, especially in the early stages. But once you have been in business for a while, it can pay dividends to think about longer term and more strategic planning.

You can work through the health check flow chart to review the areas where you are confident and highlight those which could improve. The chart will also point to the specific sections in this toolkit which could help you out.

Also included in this section is a guide to carrying out a SWOT analysis to help you take stock of your business and look at your strengths and weaknesses.

Writing a business plan

This section will help guide you through what you need to consider when writing a business plan - from market research and financial plans to monitoring and contingencies.

The guidance notes can be read in conjunction with the Dudley childcare strategy team business plan template for childcare provision which is available from the team on request.  The notes can also be used as broader headlines for you to write your own personal style of business plan.

Remember to review and update your business plan regularly.

Finance

A simple guide to the types of finance you can access to support your business, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

It will also help you through the sometimes confusing world of financial jargon, with explanations for frequently used terms. It will signpost you to useful sources of help and advice on taxes, returns, payroll, records and reporting.

It is always important to build up a good relationship with your bank and keep in contact with them. Having regular contact will help you if and when you come across any difficulties. You may also be able to access relevant training or support through your bank and it is worth asking what they can offer you.

Funding and grants

Childcare and early years education are high on the Governments agenda. The childcare strategy team can assist you with seeking funding.

You may be able to access funding from the following organisations and agencies if you meet the eligibility criteria: 

Childcare business grants scheme

Dudley CVS

Legal responsibilities

This is a run down of the different legal status of businesses and the legalities involved in setting up a childcare business.

It may be useful to you to check all the following requirements are in place at your setting.

If you are running, or thinking of setting up a voluntary or community organisation, there is some specific information for you. Dudley Council for Voluntary Services can help you with advice and guidance.

Managing your business

Without firm foundations, a successful business cannot be built up. Successful management is the key to ensuring the sustainability of your childcare business, irrespective of whether you are a voluntary or private business. Management committee members or owner-managers and their teams will need to have the necessary skills to deliver this.

You will need to get the balance right between good quality childcare and good quality business, as poor quality in either area will probably lead to failure.

There are several areas which must be dealt with on an ongoing basis to ensure that childcare businesses are meeting their legal obligations and managing the business. This relates to both the statutory obligations and financial management. All policies and procedures for your business will need to be revised on a regular basis.

To ensure you continually meet the legal requirements, you need to think about how you are going to review what you do. You may look at the legal responsibilities section to refresh yourself on the areas you will need to look at.

Marketing your business

This includes a checklist of basic marketing tools, advice on advertising and contacting the press and tips on writing a marketing plan.

Communication is not just about telling people what will happen through a poster or a leaflet, it is about building relationships with your customers and ensuring your business is meeting their needs. A good relationship with your customers will ensure good word of mouth and positive recommendations.

The key thing to remember is that you do not need to be too ambitious. There may not be the money, the resources or the time to develop a huge programme of communication - and there will not necessarily always be the need.

Remember your basic aim is to keep people informed and involved.

A free, simple way is to contact the Family Information Service.

Staffing, employment and training

A guide to the recruitment and selection process, including a useful checklist and tips on checking qualifications and advertising vacancies.

This section also gives you a guide to identifying learning and training needs and the different kinds of qualifications suitable for every stage of you career and that of your staff.

You may be familiar with many of the subject areas, and feel you only need to turn to the sections most relevant to you.  However, it may also be useful to you to read through the toolkit as there may be some issue and ideas you haven't yet considered.

We hope this toolkit will be useful to you as you promote the excellent work you do.

Background of our toolkit

This toolkit has been produced against the backdrop of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA). The assessments have formed part of the statutory duties and responsibilities of local authorities in relation to the Childcare Act 2006.

All local authorities have a duty to assess the sufficiency of childcare, and are required to take steps to analyse demand, map supply, and map supply to demand in order to secure sufficiency of childcare.

The assessment is a measure of the nature and extent of the need for, and supply of childcare within each local area.

It helps identify gaps in the market and - in consultation with parents, communities and employers – plan how to support the market to address them.

The assessment duty is concerned with the supply of, and demands for, formal childcare which may be registered, unregistered or approved and which meets the requirements of parents in the local authority area who require childcare in order to enable them to take up or remain in work, or undertake education or training which could reasonably be expected to assist them to obtain work.

In determining whether provision of childcare is sufficient, a local authority must have regard to the needs of parents in their area for the provision of childcare in respect of which the childcare element of the working tax credit is payable and the provision of childcare which is suitable for disabled children.

The local authority needs to have a clear understanding of the demographics of the local population, in particular the factors that will drive demand for childcare, with an understanding of the local labour market and patterns of training and adult learning locally.

Working patterns are varied, so we have to consider shift work and other work outside the core 8-6 working day, recognising that commuting time will affect when childcare is needed. Changes in employment patterns - the opening and closure, expansion or shrinkage of sources of employment – may impact upon parental demands for childcare, so will need to be factored into the childcare sufficiency assessment.

Removing the childcare barrier - or the perceived barrier - to good quality, affordable, accessible childcare for many working parents who wish to remain in the workforce or move from benefits to work supports social and economic regeneration of communities.

Likewise, ensuring that childcare provision is reliable and sustainable is a key aspect of enabling parents to make real choices in balancing work and family life, the local authority will support businesses which have capacity to develop successfully to maturity by ensuring that appropriate business support and training is available.

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