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How to open a preschool: the ultimate guide

You have decided to open a preschool, how exciting! There will be many emotions and challenges ahead of you, but the rewards will be well worth it. It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced early childhood educator or new to the field, we have compiled a checklist to help set you up for success.

#1 👔 Let’s start with your preschool business plan.

It doesn’t matter if you are looking to start within your home or in a large location, a business plan can seem like a complicated task, but it is achievable if you approach it in sections. Setting up your business will be a whole new ball game but this business plan guide will help you explore and examine the key questions you need to answer before starting your business.  This is the stage where you should consider all angles from licensing requirements, your mission, accreditation, and much more.

#2 💳  Budgeting for your preschool.

Setting up a budget and making it realistic is very important. Take some time to work through the numbers and build out a budget plan with this template. There are many factors that will affect how much it will cost to open a preschool. Check into any start-up grants or financial support that is funded through your state or province to help start you off on the right foot.

#3 Figuring out licensing requirements for your preschool. 

This process varies depending on your state and province. Make sure you take a detailed approach to read everything involved in getting licensed and accredited. You want to ensure you provide the proper paperwork, meet all deadlines and have time to get these records in place before you open your doors.

#4 Find a location for your preschool. 

If you are planning on using your home, this part is easy! Check out our separate free guide specifically about starting a home daycare. If you’re planning on purchasing property or applying for a loan, your business plan should contain all the information you need. If you are looking for a space to lease or rent, ensure that you know what you can afford on a monthly basis, and be mindful of the rate at which your rent may increase. Be sure to consider places such as churches, community centers, and schools, as many of these places will have rooms available with affordable rent.

#5 Obtain insurance for your preschool. 

All preschool locations need insurance in order to limit risk and give parents, educators, and owners peace of mind. Insurance policies typically include liability coverage, property, workers’ compensation, and business insurance. Check with your local licensing authority to ensure you are getting the correct insurance to cover you throughout all circumstances.

teacher and children

#6 📋 Marketing your preschool to your families in your area.

Marketing your preschool may be just as important as the cost and why many preschool programs never make it off the ground due to lack of enrollment.  Marketing that you have open spaces is very important so make sure to do a little homework about your area. You want to include: 

  • Demographics 
  • Influences
  • Challenges
  • Competition 
  • What type of families you want to attract

Be sure you create an online presence with a strong website as well to help get involved in the community and see the needs of the families. Check out this article about branding your preschool for more tips!

#7 Order furniture and supplies. 

Ensure you order all necessary furniture and classroom supplies to ensure that children are comfortable and in an engaging learning environment from day one. As you become familiar with the regulations in your region, know that HiMama has made sure to help you navigate running your preschool with our customer kit.

#8 Build your team. 

Hiring and retention are some of the biggest challenges in any industry, but they’re especially difficult for preschools. Despite the importance and intensity of their work, early childhood educators are typically underpaid and unappreciated. Keep this top of mind both when you’re hiring and when you’re considering retention risks.

Workplace culture in childcare is a hot topic right now and the interview stage is a great opportunity to set the expectations for a working relationship that is mutually beneficial for you and your team. We offer 10 childcare interview questions on our blog that will help you showcase your center’s personality and get to know your future staff better.

Once you have your team in place, ensure you do not take them for granted. Always show appreciation and provide opportunities for growth to attempt to ensure that they will stay with you long-term. Tips for retaining staff members using branding are available in this free ebook!

Pros and cons of starting a preschool

is preschool a profitable business

👍 Pros: 

  • You’ll be part of a very rewarding experience as you help children learn and develop in their important formative years.
  • If you love working with children, going to work every day will be a positive experience!
  • Expand your skills by taking on the entrepreneurial challenge of figuring out marketing, operations, and finances for your business.
  • You will be able to implement your own personal ideas and methods to educate children and have complete control over your programming. As the owner, you can choose the best staff, technologies, equipment, etc.
  • As an early childhood educator and preschool owner, you’ll bring value to the world through working with children, providing jobs for your community, and being a customer of preschool suppliers.

👎 Cons:

  • Running a successful preschool can be tough from a financial perspective as a result of the high costs associated with licensing and proper staffing.
  • You must be willing to take on a serious responsibility when it comes to the health and safety of staff and children, so the financial and emotional risk is high.
  • Building a preschool facility and program from the ground up will take a lot of hard work, and both financial and time investments on your part.
  • You may find operating a preschool to be a thankless job. Your preschoolers are unlikely to be thanking you for your efforts, so you’ll have to be motivated by your own passion and interests.

💭 Questions to ask to determine if you’re ready to start a preschool

In addition to all of the above, walk yourself through this 5 question quiz. If you have a solid answer for these five questions, then get started on opening your preschool. If you don’t, no worries, just think through your process a little more. 

  1. Why do you want to start a preschool? 
  2. Is the location you picked in need of additional childcare spaces?
  3. How will you fund the start-up costs?
  4. What are the licensing requirements for your area? 
  5. What qualities will you look for in educators when hiring?

Before you start thinking about opening your own preschool, consider this: Do you have the drive – and ability – to run a small business? 

Toddler and teacher learning about food

You’ll have to put in countless hours of work, and may or may not be as successful as you had hoped. If you believe you have the work ethic and dedication that it takes to run your own business, you may be able to combine your love of working with children with the thrill of operating your own preschool.

Remember that you must also have the talent and skills to teach other educators how to teach children. In order to carry out your curriculum and activities, your staff will have to learn from you. Do you have the ability to teach, manage, and organize employees? Overall, you’ll have to be a hardworking, incredibly organized individual to get things done each and every day to get your preschool up and running.

If you’re on your way to starting your own preschool, let us know what stage you’re at in the comments below!

What is the difference between a preschool and a daycare?

A preschool center: 

  • Only offers care to preschool-age children (generally between three and five years old)
  • Generally has a smaller amount of classrooms
  • Can hire educators that specialize in preschool lesson plans and curriculum
  • Often has different licensing and accreditation policies than a daycare
  • May often half-day programming (such as morning and afternoon preschool options)
  • Hours of operation may be limited, similar to a school system

A daycare center: 

  • Offers childcare for those younger than three years old (toddlers, infants, or both)
  • Generally has a large number of classrooms
  • Has a large and diverse team of educators specializing in different age groups
  • Often has different licensing and accreditation policies than a preschool
  • Hours of operation generally cover the full work day for caregivers

Have you recently opened a preschool or childcare facility? Or are you thinking about starting your own business? Get the best in childcare technology on your side with the HiMama app. We’ve designed our software for busy educators like you to streamline tasks and make keeping track of your daily duties much easier! Contact us today if you’d like to learn more.

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Ron Spreeuwenberg

Ron is the Co-Founder & CEO of HiMama, where he leads all aspects of a social purpose business that helps early childhood educators improve learning outcomes for children.

2 comments

  • Winnie says:

    I love you himama continue teaching us more

  • Tammy Byrne says:

    This has been so informative. I’m planning to own/open a pre-school after I’ve completed my PhD (after 3 years). I am looking around for lots of information so I’m prepared when we start looking for potential locations.

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