Childcare services include supervision and care of a child or a number of children at a given period of time. In most cases, day cares admit children ranging from six months to four years since at this age most of them are not schooling. Child care services are offered by nannies, teachers, babysitters, and other conventional providers. Providing child care services to campus students is an important business venture that is often overlooked since most people assume that youth mothers leave their children under the care of their grandparents. Lack of high quality and affordable childcare services for undergraduate students has potential harm, not only to the children but also to their parents (Catherine, 2014). Indeed, the rate of college drop outs at the college is accelerated by lack of care givers for freshmen that are full time parents. Among the challenges that students parents go through is lack of enough money, support, and pressure from family responsibilities. Finding an affordable day care is a challenge for most students. This opportunity would provide the students with the assistance that they require for successfully completing college and taking care of their children.
The idea of offering child care services within college premises is unique since the parents will have an opportunity to spend time with their children when they are not in class. According to data collected by the government in 2011, the number of students raising children was estimated to have reached 4.8 million (Catherine, 2014). This population sums up to a quarter of undergraduate population in the US. It is quite evident that these mothers are low income earners and are less likely to complete their studies. This business seeks to equate mothers and non mothers and its success is dependent on understanding of obligations and demographics of parents that enroll to the program. In collaboration with college administration, the program will be subsidized to the parents who pay for the service through Child Access Means Parents in School Program. Lastly, the uniqueness of the idea is that while other day cares charge approximately $300 and $400 per week, through this program they will be required to pay $400 per semester.
The business targets different categories of clients since it not only an economic issue but also spans around gender and racial problems. In most cases, college mothers are faced with numerous responsibilities. Some of them are employees, breadwinners, wives, sisters and daughters. Faced with numerous competing demands, they struggle to maintain campus life through graduation. In comparison to the students that have people to take care of their children, there is a high likelihood of student parents to drop out of school. According to a research conducted in 2011, students mentioned their caregiver responsibilities as the main reason for dropping out of school since they have limited resources for enrolling their children to day cares (Catherine, 2014). Studies on child care services for different States reveal that an average day care institution charges higher fees in comparison with tuitions fees for colleges.
Due to the rising inflation and the high number of college students mothers, there is increased need for child care services. Although the quality of available day cares is high, they are not affordable to college students especially those coming from poor backgrounds where they have to cater for their education needs as well as their young children. On campus day care offers affordable services coupled with safety for the children. The services offered at the day care include play area, basic learning activities, health checkups, food and nutrition. The customers include student mothers and university staff working within the facility.
The business aims to reach potential customers through print media and social networks. Print media aims at connecting with customers at schools, work places and residences. This will include flyers and posters that will be distributed in classes, school notice boards, salons, fitness centers, gyms and other social facilities that cater for young mothers. Being a cost effective means of communication, social media will include face book, twitter and other networks used by students.
From earlier research findings, customers are looking for a place where they can get child friendly and quality child care services at an affordable fee. Currently, parents are paying high services for facilities that do not have enough space for child play and lack experienced personnel. The aim of such facilities is only to take care of children without minding their welfare. This business is based on the understanding that choosing childcare services is an overwhelming process especially to young mother that are greatly attached to their children. We seek to simplify the process by offering baby friendly environment, environmental and social awareness programs, organic snacks and meals, and qualified child care givers.
Due to the changes in market dynamics, rising economy and complexity in business environment, businesses, have become more competitive than they were before (Propstmeier, 2011). Identifying campus childcare facility business required strategic decision since it involves focus on a particular market segment. Compared to other business, child care is facing stiff competition that requires entrepreneurs to recognize new opportunity that can enable the business to thrive. Opening up a campus child care business was a move to ensure there is a response to the changing market needs. Efforts were made to recognize the potential means of promoting and maintaining a competitive advantage over the existing child care business. Although opportunity recognition focuses on different aspects, such new markets and opportunities, the main focus for this business was to evaluate the customer needs. Before coming up with business, the company made several innovative decisions so that individual needs of campus student others can be accurately defined and solved (Osterwalder et al., 2014). Opportunity recognition for the business took into account identification, recognition and discovering the potential opportunities available in the area (Klein, 2008). After research on the potential business, the next process was to develop a new business that would be readily accepted in the market. As a campus student, it was easy to recognize day care facility within the campus premises as a profitable business that would be better exploited since other competitors are not aware of it.
Although the existing child care facilities within the area are aware that the population of undergraduate students who double responsibilities of parenting and study is increasing, they still charge high for their services. In a typical scenario, a teenage mother may be unable to concentrate in school if the child is left under the care of her parents and may drop out of school due to the stress of separation. During market research for the business, a number of students admitted that although the pain of separation from their children is a hidden issue, it tends to trigger the feelings of isolation. Among the major issues that student parents face are lack of understanding and support as well as inadequate money to take care of their needs and those of their children. Finding a good and affordable day care is a challenge which is why this business seeks to offer assistance by coming up with an affordable and high quality facility that will enable them to successfully take care of their children and complete college. An on-campus day care facility that targets student parents will save the students of the headache that they are going through. The theme of opportunity recognition has offered useful entrepreneurship literature for identifying and exploiting the market demand.
Opportunity discovery entails all the actions initiated by the entrepreneurs towards identifying a neglected or unexploited business opportunity (Propstmeier, 2011). A situation whereby new products and services can be introduced by a business entity to the market and offer profits is referred to as an opportunity. For the case of this business, opportunity discovery involved identifying a new serviced that would help solve the market needs at a reasonable profit. In a nutshell, opportunity discovery leads to formation of new firms or businesses (Propstmeier, 2011). Although starting up a new business is risky, the focus of this business is to add value to the services that are already available in the market therefore there is no predicted possibility for failure. The process of opportunity discovery for this business was costless since discovery, search, evaluation and exploitation of the opportunity occurred simultaneously. Speculations regarding the value of the business were made and there was no room for the business crumbling down. Opportunity implementation becomes easy when the entrepreneur has prior information on how to serve the market.
The knowledge gained through literature review was influential in identifying the opportunity. It is therefore evident that opportunity discovery assumes that there are there is a difference between entrepreneurs and non entrepreneurs especially in decision making since the former are risk takers (Klein, 2008). According to discovery theory, individuals that are unusually alert are more likely to exploit available opportunities even when the conditions for business are risky. Businesses are able to gather useful information regarding the opportunities so that they can gain economic wealth in the market or industry. The opportunities are generally generic and detailed than the existing businesses view them. Despite the differences in upcoming and existing businesses, the opportunities exist as a result of the industrys’ structure.
Every business is unique and the processes involved in the development and implementation phases differ from one project to the other. Nevertheless, every idea has to undergo certain stringent procedures, processes, and standards to ensure that the resultant business is developed appropriately (Osterwalder et al., 2014). The present idea was no different. It required thorough attention and preparation through all the stages. The first step in this case was a systematic assessment of the market in which the business would operate. The market research involved the collection of sufficient data to aid in determining the potential of the proposed idea to meet the customers’ needs. The study aimed at collecting facts concerning the demographics, economic trends, competitors, market changes, regulatory environment, and the target customers’ spending patterns. Primary research was found to be the most suitable strategy. As such, the specific factors assessed during the study included the effectiveness of sales, the quality of available services, present business practices, as well as the number, size, and market share of competitors. The study revealed a significantly large gap in the market since the existing dare care centers target other customer segments apart from students (Bragg & Bragg, 2005). This opportunity meant that the business could be expanded indefinitely to virtually all learning institutions, either through licensing agreements or franchising. Indeed, the existing services were found to be unattractive to students due to the lack of flexibility, prohibitive pricing, and distance from learning institutions. Moreover, the market research facilitated the identification of existing problem areas, customer needs, threats and opportunities, strengths and weaknesses, and the market size (Bragg & Bragg, 2005). These findings would be necessary when setting targets and making business strategies.
Once these aspects had been established, the next step was planning. The business would require a considerable sum of money to cater for the starting capital as well as the acquisition of business assets. Firstly, the business would need premises within the vicinity of learning institutions, which would also have to be inspected for safety and licensed before being operational. Staff would also have to be hired. These would include three full-time caregivers, a cleaner, and a chef to cook the children’s meals. The new services would need money for advertising through cheap methods, such as flyers, posters, and word of mouth. As such, a financial plan was made, complete with sources of funds as well as three years’ financial projections to determine the viability of the enterprise. This stage also entailed deciding on the best form of business that would cater to the growth plans. The business would be profit-oriented, and would be registered as a limited liability company, which would have the exclusive right to offer franchising deals to other interested parties. The business would offer day care services exclusively to students and staff in institutions in which it operated at discounted prices.
After the planning phase was complete, the idea needed to be actualized. At this stage, the concept was transformed from paper to a brick and mortal business. The startup capital came mainly from personal savings, although a few friends and relatives contributed or pledged different amounts of money. Several matters needed to be addressed. A suitable location within the local university was leased after negotiations with the university administration. The business would offer its services to both students and staff during normal working hours. After all the necessary supplies had been procured and the staff hired, the business was licensed with the local authorities. Further, with the help of an attorney, a franchising deed was drawn up, which would be offered to interested entrepreneurs in the future.
The decision to offer franchising deals was made after careful consideration of the size of the market and the financial limitations. Establishing a day care center in every university and college around the state would require sufficient amounts of money that would not be easy to acquire. Other advantages of the franchising model also played a large role in making the decision (Bragg & Bragg, 2005). However, the franchises would not be operational until the first establishment had kicked off and reached its breakeven point, which had been determined during the planning phase to occur after four years.
Childcare services are important to every mother and child. They allow parents to continue being productive rather than staying at home to care for their children. Although these services have been in existence for a while, the needs of student mothers have been largely ignored. The existing day care centers are either unnecessarily expensive, located far from institutions of higher learning, or lack the flexibility required by young mothers. As a result, majority of student mothers are forced to drop out of school to attend to their young ones.
This business idea aims at solving this predicament and providing equal opportunities for young mothers to continue with their education while caring for their babies. The idea recognizes students’ financial constraints and will address them by charging a highly discounted monthly fee of $400 per semester. The business will provide high quality child care services primarily to student mothers and will be run within the compounds of various institutions of higher learning. The business will rely on affordable means of advertising, such as flyers and posters, to advertize its services. Finally, in the future, the enterprise will be converted into a franchise to serve the needs of students in other colleges and universities.
This idea illuminates two core themes, opportunity recognition and discovery. The entrepreneurial notion in this case allowed for the identification of existing gaps in the market as well as unexploited or ignored market segments. Specifically, the existing service providers ignore the specific needs of student mothers and have failed to offer a product that caters to their unique circumstances. Further, none of the existing providers have provided a student-only center exclusively within learning institutions. Indeed, most of the available day care centers are located within highly populated urban and residential areas are meant for the ordinary working parent.
Catherine Hill, P. (2014). Child Care on Campus: A Must for Mothers in College. [online] AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. Available at: https://www.aauw.org/2014/05/06/child-care-on-cc-campus/ [Accessed 5 Sep. 2018].
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Bragg, A. and Bragg, M. (2005). Developing new business ideas. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
Propstmeier, J. (2011). Antecedents of entrepreneurial behavior. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises.
Klein, P.G., 2008. Opportunity discovery, entrepreneurial action, and economic organization. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 2(3), pp.175-190.