How to Start a Babysitting Business

You can’t help but smile when you’re around children. Their high energy, creative spirits, and generous minds make you tickled pink whenever you’re around them! It might be us, but we think you’d be perfect to start a babysitting business. 

11 Steps to Starting a Babysitting Business

More than half of Americans live in childcare deserts, or areas that don’t have access to childcare, according to Zippia. That means babysitting services are more important than ever, particularly to families who lack childcare.

If you’d love working day in and day out making kids smile, then starting a babysitting service could be a perfect fit for you! Look no further; you’re in the right place to get started.

Let’s break down how you can start your very own babysitting business.

1. Understand the Legal Requirements

Babysitting isn’t necessarily a legally stringent career path— that is, it doesn’t require things like formal certifications to get started. There are however a few legalities you should be aware of before hopping into this entrepreneurial life:

  • Knowing the difference between W2 and 1099 work – It’s important that you and the family you are sitting for know the proper tax forms to fill out. If you’re working in a family’s home, then you’re considered a household employee and need to receive a W2 form. If you’re providing work from outside of the home, then you’re an independent contractor and need to fill out a 1099 form. Make sure you get these right come tax season, or you both could be dealing with some fines.
  • Knowing the age to start a business – If you’re under 18 but want to form your business, ask your parents for help (We’ll outline the different business entities a bit later).
  • Following directions on babysitting sites and apps like care.com. If you’re working through a nanny agency, there are likely already forms and payment processors to fill out that help manages payments and taxes. Follow directions on these sites so you and the family are recording everything properly.

Most importantly, don’t limit your research and be fully equipped with all the information needed. State laws can vary, so research starting a business in your state for specific, local requirements. 

2. Establish Your Target Market

Think carefully about the types of families you’re looking to babysit for. Offering affordable daily childcare services for lower-income areas will target different families than offering date night and activity-run services for busy working parents in affluent neighborhoods. Think about who you want to help before marketing your services.

3. Develop a Business Plan

Your family probably won’t ask you about your business plan during your interview, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a bit of entrepreneurial foresight. Think about these babysitting-specific factors when planning:

  • Your Mission and Vision — We know you love kids, but think a little deeper about why you’re offering your services. What do you think you can bring to the table that’s different from other babysitters? Maybe you’ve worked as a teacher, and believe every child benefits from a sitter with a teaching degree. Think about what makes you unique, match that with what you love, and voila: you’ve got a mission and vision that families can get behind. 
  • Your Sales and Marketing Strategy — Write out how you’ll get the word out there about your exceptional babysitting services. Knowing your target market will help you find where your dream clientele is hanging out, like YCMAs, pediatrician offices, and libraries, so you can design and distribute physical posters when and where allowed.
  • Startup Costs — Think about any supplies you might need to make your babysitting service outstanding. For that teacher-turned-nanny, maybe you have fun games and activities that you plan to bring to every home, or perhaps you have to budget for a train pass to get to and from a house.

4. Choose Services to Offer

Families are often looking for all kinds of sitting services, from live-in nannies and au pairs who live with the family to weekly, part-time work to night nannying for new parents. Consider what services and schedule availability you can provide for families, including the schedule, age range, and responsibilities. Can you make lunches, drive to and from after-school activities, and help with homework? Can you help with newborn care? Can you work overnight shifts? We’ll get into your qualifications in step 6 to make sure you’re offering services that you can confidently sell.

5. Create a Pricing Structure and Business Model

Families sometimes have their budgets in place. But as a business owner, wouldn’t it be nice to have control over your pricing structure and rate?

Think about how you’d like to get paid: per hour is great for date nights and one-off sittings, per day could be an option for a family looking for 1-2 days per week, and per week can be great for a more full-time schedule with a family.

While thinking about this, consider how you’d like to get paid, whether a Venmo business account, a payment processor like Stripe, or through a direct bank transfer.

6. Get Certified in First Aid and CPR, Obtain Licenses and Permits, and Prepare for Babysitting Situations and Emergencies

Think back to the services you offer families. While it’s not required to get a business license or certified in First Aid and CPR, it’ll help you better market your services and instill trust in families, and of course, will help you be prepared if any emergencies happen.

Take a look at Red Cross’s many babysitting and childcare training for nannies like Child Care Licensing, CPR, Swimming + Water Safety, and AED, to prepare you for any situation that may come your way when looking after children.

This is also a great time to write up a few checklists that you can pass to your families to fill out, like a childcare safety checklist, an emergency contact list, or a backup babysitter list in case you ever get sick.

7. Choose Your Business Structure

Officiate your business even more by creating a business structure. If you’re under 18, get a parent or guardian’s help to register in your state. Here are a few common business structures:

Sole Proprietorship and General Partnership

These are unincorporated business types that don’t require paperwork or forming. However, they don’t protect your personal assets against legal issues that might come against your business. A sole prop is for a single owner, and a general partnership is for more than 1 business owner. These are acceptable ways to start your babysitting business at first and don’t require registering.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An incorporated business type that requires paperwork and filing but gives you an Employer Identification Number (EIN) that allows you to open a business bank account. It also protects your personal liabilities, creating a formal business structure to protect you from any liabilities. This is a common business structure for new business owners with a single member who is just getting started in their work.

Limited Partnership

A structure where two or more entrepreneurs go into business together, but are only held liable for the amount of money they invested in their business. You probably won’t be taking on this business structure unless you’re starting your babysitting business with a business partner.

Corporation

An incorporated business that’s either an S Corporation (which an LLC or LLP can file as on their tax returns) which has fewer than 100 shareholders or a C Corporation, which is for larger organizations and owned by stockholders. You probably won’t be taking on this business structure either, as it’s for bigger organizations that have shareholders and have a whole lot more responsibilities than a simple-to-manage sole prop or LLC.

8. Register Your Business

Now that you know what type of business structure you’ll have, it’s time to register it (if it’s incorporated). If you’re starting an LLC, for instance, you can visit your state’s Secretary of State website or have a business formation specialist at doola help you out.

9. Open a Business Bank Account

You might have a few business expenses as a babysitter like transportation to and from your family’s home. Opening a business bank account can help you separate your personal expenditures (like rent and groceries) from your business ones (like gas or public transportation fees) so you can write off expenses.

Plus, if you ever want to eventually open a babysitting agency, you’ll already be equipped with the professional tools to help start it. 

10. Consider Liability Insurance

Liability insurance can protect you from any damages or injuries during your sitting and can give parents peace of mind when signing on to work with you. The Hartford is a great site to peruse some small business insurance policies to keep yourself safe and your families comforted.

11. Create a Marketing Strategy and Market Your Business

If you’re a babysitting business looking to capture the hearts of multiple families, revert to that business plan outline for your steps to marketing your business through social media, posting to local Facebook groups, and creating physical posters in your target market’s most frequented places.

If you feel like you’ll only ever want to work with 1-2 families, you can develop a simple referral scheme that incentivizes families to help you get word-of-mouth business. For example, offer a $25 gift card for each successful referral after you’ve worked with a family for more than a week.

Let doola Help Your Babysitting Business Flourish

Unless you have the support system to start, forming a business can be overwhelming. That’s why doola’s here to help you form and grow your babysitting business from its inception to when you hire sitters out through your business! Start your babysitting business with us today.

FAQs

Is babysitting a profitable business?

Babysitting can be a consistent source of income for sitters who need it. If you ever want to scale, though, starting a babysitting agency can yield more profit!

Do babysitters need to be registered?

No; but it certainly doesn’t hurt to get certifications and licenses to show your qualifications as a babysitter.

Is babysitting in high demand?

Babysitting is in high demand, particularly in childcare deserts where childcare options are little to none. If you find a market there, you can make it easier to have a babysitting business and help families provide care for their children.

Do you need qualifications to babysit?

You don’t need qualifications, but it’s best to get certified in First Aid and CPR, at the very least.

What is the best age to start babysitting?

Start babysitting when you feel comfortable with children! You can start with preschoolers and kindergarteners, and then gain more experience working with infants when you feel you’re ready.

doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

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