Somerset County Council

Starting a childcare business


Providing high quality childcare can be enormously rewarding and give children a great start in life. Opening a new provision requires commitment and research. There is a lot to consider including knowing about your community, the competition in your area and sustainability.

We have included some advice and suggestions which should be useful as a starting point, however all new provisions are different and will have individual considerations. 

Finding suitable premises
Often the hardest part of starting a new childcare business is finding suitable premises. You should have an idea about what age ranges you wish to care for, and how many children. Children under two years must have 3.5 square metres of floor space available per child, falling to 2.5 square metres for two-year olds and 2.3 square metres for three and four year olds. Providers must also ensure that as far as reasonably practical, the facilities, equipment and access are suitable for children with disabilities. 

Remember, it is likely that planning permission will be required, so consider whether there is enough parking, suitable drop-off points and whether neighbours are likely to object.

You should also consider where you expect parents to come from, what clientele you and whether there are other childcare groups in the area (see Childcare Sufficiency Assessments below).

Cost of premises

  • If a building is leased, what are the terms of the lease?  Are there break clauses? Can alterations to the building be made? What is the notice period?
  • If the building is to be purchased outright, how will the purchase be funded?
  • What are the business rates?
  • Will there be a need for repairs and maintenance? How much is likely to be needed?

Childcare sufficiency assessments 
A childcare sufficiency assessment provides an overview of the local childcare market, comparing the supply of childcare in an area to the demand for childcare. Demand for childcare is based on the number of children in the area and the average national usage. By comparing supply with demand, we can see whether there is a requirement for more childcare in an area.

If you would like a childcare sufficiency assessment of a target area, please contact at or phone 01823 357386.

Childcare Development Officers can provide practical advice and support on everything from suitable premises to operational delivery.

What are you planning to offer?

  • What age ranges will you offer care for?  Babies? Two-year olds? Three and four year olds? After school care?
  • What opening times will you offer?  It is worth researching the local need: Do parents need full day care, hours that fit within the school day or just mornings or afternoons?
  • What resources and equipment will you need? Budget for the costs of equipment
  • What fees will you charge? How does this compare with other providers in the area? Have you completed a business plan? A business plan is vital as it helps you consider all aspects of your business in detail.
  • Pick up from schools?

Staff are usually the single largest cost for any nursery. Statutory staffing ratios must be considered. You must also meet the ratios of qualified staff (see the EYFS Framework) and consider whether you will have an Early Years Teacher or Early Years Professional on the staff team.

The overall timescale will vary depending on individual circumstances, such as locating premises, whether planning permission is required and recruiting staff.  Ofsted registration can take up to six months and Ofsted will only do a registration visit when the setting is ready to open for business, so planning ahead is crucial.

Whilst every effort has been made to provide up to date and correct advice, we make no representations or warranties of any kind. Any reliance placed on this information is strictly at your own risk.


Contact: Early Years Team
Address: B2 South, County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY
Phone: 0300 123 2224
Opening Hours: Monday 8am to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm, Saturday and Sunday closed.

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