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Working for the business or in it?

As business owners or trustees of voluntary or charitable organizations, you take on the financial, moral and legal obligations that running a business or charity requires.

We covered this topic a few years ago but thought it worth revisiting as the pandemic with all its challenges has demonstrated to us all that more time is required for planning and thinking our way out of difficult situations. Whilst this was an extreme scenario, childcare businesses are open to continual market and financial challenges each day and from your feedback on what you have had to do differently many responses were related to using more time managing and problem solving.

So one of the best ways to ensure that your organization remains sustainable is to “work for the business not in it”!

Working for the business is essentially spending the majority of your time looking at the future planning and taking actions that consistently secure new place take up of high quality early education and childcare. As the owner / manager or committee member the more time spent on operational activity will detract from strategic work that in the long run will be far more beneficial to on-going sustainability.

Here’s a great way to help you simply assess where you think you are in terms of spending enough time developing the business and not just fire fighting or dealing with day to day issues:

  1. Sit down with your management team or committee and estimate how much time you spend on operational, (day to day), issues and how much you spend on strategic business or organizational development. As a guide if you are spending more than 70% of your time on strategic development, that’s good but is it enough?

  2. If you are spending less than 70% of your time on strategic development, jot down the top 3 non-strategic things you are doing in terms of the time that they consume.

  3. Discuss with your team why you are using your time in this way and how you can either delegate or do things differently. This will allow you to concentrate on keeping the business on track with the organizational goals and making enough money to continue to be sustainable.

There are lots of ways to give yourself more breathing space to guide your organisation to a successful future, but you have to plan for it. It seems to be a common problem in the childcare sector but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to continue to do, or that it better supports sustainability changes so worth considering alternative ways if working.

…But for now think of it this way…

“If you walk backwards down a street you are likely to bump into things, but if you look ahead to where you are going you can see what’s coming and avoid obstacles”

Therefore, if you are not working for the business, you are walking backwards! Ouch!

Information & Support available

If you need more information or support on any of the circumstance outlined above please do contact us.

We will put all future articles in Best Start and put a link to our website at the end of each article so you can access our information at any time.

If you would like support at any point, please do contact us on


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