Simone Cowley is the founder of Guardian Angels Childcare, a nanny and babysitting agency providing excellent child care to families in Milton Keynes and surrounding areas. Simone has 24 years of childcare experience herself, and she has worked and enjoyed various roles including a nanny, teaching assistant and foster carer. She started her own business two years ago, and she shares her experiences with the Small Business Growth Club.
The Responsibility of Choosing Nannies
Once Simone Cowley decided to stop being a nanny herself and start a childcare business, she had to accept the responsibility of selecting nannies and babysitters for other families. We were wondering how she coped with that responsibility.
“First things first – I select all nannies and babysitters very carefully. It’s a huge responsibility, looking after someone else’s children, even more so than looking after your own children. Obviously, they’re going into people’s homes to take care of their children, and to anybody, that’s the most important thing in their life, their children and their home,” Simone explains.
“We provide childcare services for children from birth up to the end of primary school, so around the age of 11,” she continues. “But once children get into their teens, they’re not really keen on a nanny. I had a lovely family with 13-year old twins. They were mortified when their parents said they were getting an after-school nanny for them. The children didn’t like the idea of a nanny, so she had to be quite young and hip, and we couldn’t call her nanny at all, we have to call her a companion.”
The Benefits and Challenges of Running a Business
Like most other small business owners, Simone has found freedom in starting Guardian Angels Childcare, and she didn’t mind being very busy as she was setting up. However, the challenge has been to keep her babysitter team busy, especially as the Coronavirus pandemic hit hard in 2020.
“The biggest challenge has been coping with everything myself and getting enough families paying for the role of nannies and babysitters to keep them gainfully employed. Therefore, my short term goal is to recover from the effect the pandemic has had on us. We were humming along quite nicely before this happened. I want to describe when you bowl you have the 10 pins standing up. That was us. And then the Coronavirus ball just came running down and knocked us all over. So at the beginning of the lockdown, existing nannies could go to work, but we weren’t getting any new business. Things virtually stopped in terms of new business for the first three or four months. Everybody was at home and managing their children themselves.”
Marketing and Expansion of Childcare Business
Despite the crisis that they have been experiencing, Guardian Angels Childcare have plans to expand.
“We are working on expanding into Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, down into the rest of Buckinghamshire. We want to go out into neighbouring counties as well for our nanny service. To do that, we advertise our services in lots of different ways. I’m on all social media, we’ve had successful leafleting campaigns locally, we’ve used Google ads, word of mouth and course networking. We get new business through all these channels.”
But the crucial thing to make it all work, Simone, concludes, is to “believe in yourself and your idea. It isn’t going to be easy. There will be days when you think, ‘oh, why am I doing this?’ But go with it. You’ll go past it, and you’ll succeed, give it your all.”
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