Steps to Start a Babysitting Business
Whether you want to build a strong babysitting business to just gainfully employ yourself, or you have your sights set on a larger agency model, learning how to start a babysitting business will require research, organization, and a Mary Poppins-style bag of tricks.
Keep reading to learn how to start a business as a babysitter in six simple steps.
Step 1: Nail Down Your Specialty
When most people think of babysitting, the image that often comes to mind is a teenager watching the kids on a Saturday night so the parents can enjoy an evening out. However, there can be a lot more to babysitting than that.
If you have specific expertise in certain areas of child care, this can be especially helpful to market your services. A few to consider are:
- Infant care
- Watching multiple children
- Providing transportation to extracurriculars or appointments
- Teaching a second language
These are just a few examples of services you can offer to attract clients. Take the time to brainstorm what unique skills you bring to the table—then research what your competitors are doing—so you can find a much-needed specialty.
Step 2: Prioritize Safety
When entrusting their child with another person, safety is a top priority for any parent. Before launching your babysitting services, make sure whoever is watching the children (whether you or your employees) has the proper safety certifications to ensure that if any emergencies arise, they can handle them as safely as possible.
Both the Red Cross and Safe Sitter offer helpful certifications for babysitters that range from safety lessons to how to start your business, but at the bare minimum take the safety courses. Child CPR, infant CPR, and general first aid courses can give all parties a little extra peace of mind.
Providing references from other happy clients will also help your new clients rest easy when their child is in your care.
Step 3: Create a Business Plan
While many aspects of starting a babysitting business are all fun and games, this next step will be a bit more on the serious side. Writing a killer business plan is a must for keeping your business organized and on a path toward success.
When you sit down to write your business plan, prepare to spend a decent amount of time on this project. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Your business plan should serve as a guidebook to how you’ll make your business a success.
While a good business plan will make a difference internally, it can also be helpful externally. You can use a solid business plan to explain to potential partners, lenders, or investors what your business does, what its value is, and why you’ll see a return on your investments.
If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of writing a business plan, consider business plan software or a template to help structure your ideas.
When writing your business plan, it’s important to take the following steps.
Choose a Business Name
Deciding on the right business name is going to be tricky. Not only do you need to find a name that you love, but it also needs to be catchy and memorable—and available to use. For a babysitting business, try to aim for a name that sounds friendly, caring, and approachable.
Before making any official moves with your business name, double-check that it isn’t already in use by another business. A quick search on Google and through your secretary of state’s website will help you discover if your desired name is free and clear. Once you find the right one, make sure you secure your website domain name and social media handles before someone else claims them.
Pick a Business Entity
When writing your business plan, you won’t want to skip over choosing a legal structure for the business. The legal structure of a company is determined by its business entity, which plays a big role in your legal standing and how you’ll pay taxes.
Take your time to research your business entity options and, if your budget permits, consult a business attorney or tax expert to ensure you pick the right entity for you. Popular forms of business entities include sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Once you’ve chosen how you want to structure your business, you’ll then register your business with your state. The exception to this is if you set up a sole proprietorship or general partnership—however, these entities also afford you no personal liability protection if your business runs into legal or financial issues.
Define Your Services—and Pricing
Remember earlier when we explained the benefits of having a specialty? Now is the time to clearly define any products or services your babysitting business provides. Nail down the specifics of what kind of babysitting services you and your staff offer, any special skills worth advertising, and break down any unique packages you’ve created.
With these services outlined, you can then determine how much you’ll charge. Pricing your babysitting services should involve some research into the average rates in your area, as well as competitor research to see what similar businesses are charging for their services.
Step 4: Apply for Permits, Insurance, and Licenses
With your business registered, you’re well on your way to opening your babysitting business. However, to do so legally, you’ll need to make sure you have all the required permits, licenses, and insurance.
Spend some time reviewing the requirements set for businesses by your local and federal governments to learn more about what business licenses and permits you may require. The SBA and your local chamber of commerce should have some helpful resources that can make the process easier.
Since you’ll be caring for people’s children, you should also spend significant time determining what kind of business insurance is best for you. A business attorney can also be a big help here.
If your babysitting business requires hiring staff, you’ll also need to register for an employer identification number (EIN). Of course, there are a lot of helpful benefits associated with registering for an EIN, even if you aren’t hiring employees anytime soon—such as easier tax filing and the ability to open a business bank account or credit card.
Step 5: Secure Small Business Funding
Depending on your services, starting a babysitting business may not require much of an upfront investment. However, if your business requires more capital to get off the ground, or you’re already looking to expand your enterprise, you may need outside help. If that’s the case, consider these potential business funding options.
- Startup funding: New businesses in need of funding may be able to secure startup financing options, like an SBA microloan or business grant. Crowdfunding opportunities are increasingly popular options for startups these days too.
- Business credit cards: If you’re struggling to secure a loan, a business credit card can be used in a similar fashion, but may be easier to obtain. If the balance is paid off before the introductory period ends, a 0% intro APR credit card can function as an interest-free loan.
- Business lines of credit: Typically, a business line of credit is easier to secure than a standard business loan and can provide some much-needed flexibility for any working capital expenses that come up—or as an emergency fund for your business.
To keep your business finances organized, opening a business bank account is crucial to keep your business finances and personal finances separate. Similarly, a business credit card will allow you to keep your business spending separate. And if you don’t work with an accountant, purchasing an accounting software program can make managing your business finances much easier.
Step 6: Make a Marketing Plan
While putting a flyer in your neighbors’ mailboxes may have been a sufficient way to drum up babysitting business as a teenager, to take this business to the next level, you’ll need to come up with a solid marketing plan.
Depending on your business’s needs, you need to decide how much you want to spend on marketing and advertising efforts, what channels you want to market your babysitting business via (website, social media, email, direct mail, etc.), and what the expected outcomes of your investment and efforts should be.
Finding ways to reach your target audience are key. So make sure to get your business and your services in front of the eyes of busy working parents who need after-school care or couples that like to enjoy weekend date nights without their kids tagging along. Parenting magazines and websites, as well as social media groups for parents, will be a good place to start placing ads and interacting with potential customers. You should also consider joining babysitting services websites such as Care.com, Bambino Sitters, or Sittercity to reach a larger pool of potential clients.
And don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Consider offering your services at a discount for your first couple of families and encourage them to leave positive reviews on your Google My Business and Yelp pages.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much does it cost to start a babysitting business?
How much it costs to start a babysitting business will depend a lot on your particular needs. Set aside some money to pay for a website, advertising, insurance, business licenses and registration, employees, and any supplies you may need. The costs of starting a babysitting business can be very low if you plan to keep your business small: $20 for gas or public transportation may be enough to get the ball rolling, but if you’re looking to start an agency the costs will reach into the thousands.
2. How do you start a babysitting website?
There are various small business website builders to help you easily create a site, including Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, and WordPress. At first, you can start a website for free, but you may want to update to a paid domain name to make your business look more professional. At the bare minimum, your website should share what kind of babysitting services your business offers, what your prices are, and how to get in contact with you. Adding testimonials once you have them is also a great way to market your services.
3. How do I advertise my babysitting services?
You can advertise your babysitting services on social media, in local newspaper ads, or simply via word of mouth. Consider starting a referral program that encourages your customers to pass along your information, post flyers at the library or in a coffee shop, or pay for online ads designed to target your ideal customer.
The Bottom Line
If you love kids, have a friendly disposition, and can solve some of parents’ biggest logistical issues (aka picking up the kids from school at 2 p.m. and driving them to soccer practice while they have a work meeting), then you may just have a brilliant babysitting business on your hands. We hope this step-by-step guide will help you learn how to start a babysitting business in a way that’s both fun and profitable.