Business expertise for child care – in our own backyard

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ROOT AND KENOSHA — Child care centers can — and should — be run like any other small business, says Mary Fischer-Tracy, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) serving Racine and Kenosha counties.

The Fischer-Tracy office, at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, is now the state’s child care business expert, offering consulting assistance to existing and start-up child care operators through Wisconsin’s 14 SBDC network locations. Free assistance includes developing detailed business plans and identifying local financial resources.

“Our goal is to help them learn how to run a daycare like a business. It is a very important aspect of our economy,” she said.

The SBDC is well positioned to have a place in a daycare owner’s toolbox. The 42-year-old program is part of the Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship in the UW system. Part of its funding comes from a cooperation agreement with the US Small Business Administration.

Most Wisconsin SBDC Network offices are located on or near UW System campuses.

Unique point of view

Fischer-Tracy and her sister, Barb Fischer-Galley, bring a unique perspective to help child care operators. Both have been licensed family day care operators and both have experience in business and not-for-profit settings.

About 20 years ago, Fischer-Tracy, who worked as an investment banker, started an in-home child care business after the birth of her daughter. Then, when her daughter, Kennedy, was diagnosed with leukemia, Barb stepped in to help her.

Kennedy recovered from the illness, and Barb Fischer-Galley, meanwhile, continued to operate her own home-based child care business specializing in infant care.

Fischer-Tracy then returned to the banking industry and was later associated with Wisconsin female business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC), a non-profit organization that helps underserved people with resources to start and strengthen businesses. She joined the local SBDC office in 2017. Along the way, Fischer-Tracy and Fischer-Galley were partners in a Kenosha County antique business and worked separately in the nonprofit sector.

When the Wisconsin SBDC Network funded an educational initiative aimed specifically at child care operations last summer, Fischer-Tracy and Fischer-Galley (a business consultant at the local SBDC office) chose to become the experts in child care. ‘State. So far, they have provided consulting assistance to approximately 10 new and existing child care businesses statewide. They met many clients virtually.

“We go beyond the (state-issued) regulations (for operating child care centers) and look at things like budgeting, cash flow, marketing, taxes, etc.,” said said Fischer-Tracy. “We want child care businesses to be run legally and successfully.”

Presentation in April

Fischer-Tracy will share his views during the Wisconsin Home Child Care Association annual conference in Green Bay from April 28-30.

“The message I share is that you can run it like a business and be profitable and get positive parent endorsements,” she said.

Local operators share their experiences

Two local child care operators say they received advice and support from SBDC and WWBIC.

Niki Mauer, who now operates group child care centers in Racine and Union Grove, intended to start small in 2013.

Niki Mauer knows the value of the SBDC. “It’s the best resource there is for businesses,” said the entrepreneur. – Credit: Paul Holley

“I was literally going to babysit at home while I was working on an MBA,” she said. “But then it just took off and I decided to start a private community school instead.”

Mauer contacted WWBIC, which helped her secure a $10,000 business loan to lease space for the growing childcare business. But she also recognized that she needed to learn more about business operations and entrepreneurship. A WWBIC counselor referred her to the SBDC office at UW-Parkside.

After two years, she felt it would be profitable to buy her own building. With the help of the SBDC office, she created a business plan that helped her secure bank financing to acquire the former Gethsemane Lutheran Church building at Washington and Blaine Avenues in Racine.

Today, the Mauer Home School, with an enrollment of 170 children, occupies the former educational wing of the church and leases the former church sanctuary to a dance studio. The center includes preschool programming and offers a summer program for school-aged children.

Last fall, Mauer acquired an existing group day care center in Union Grove. Renamed MHS Ouest, it accommodates 53 children. Both sites have 27 employees.

“I think it’s (SBDC) the best resource for businesses,” Mauer said. “Mary (Fischer-Tracy) has always been such a big champion for me and other start-ups.”

Danielle Brown, the operator of Danielle’s Building Blocks, a Kenosha Group daycare, got her start nearly four years ago when Fischer-Tracy was a WWBIC advisor/mentor.

“Having resources I can turn to for advice on how to keep my business sustainable has been really helpful,” she said.

Today, Danielle’s Building Blocks looks after 16 children in two shifts, seven days a week. Brown and an employee do the work.

Looking to the future, Brown says she would like to get a vehicle so she can take the kids on field trips.

Growing small business

The SBDC’s childcare business outreach is part of a continued demand for affordable, quality childcare and a general increase in small business start-ups.

A survey by Lending Tree, an online lending marketplace, found that a quarter of Americans were considering starting a small business during the COVID-19 pandemic and 64% of them took steps to start a business. .

Lending Tree also looked at data from the US Census Bureau which showed that the number of people applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) increased by 25% from 2019 to 2020. Lending Tree warned that all business operators do not need to apply for an EIN (examples include freelancers and consultants) not all applications progress to a business start-up.

Yet, an increase in entrepreneurship has been noted. Lending Tree’s review of data on 100 US cities showed Milwaukee Metro ranked 19and in the United States with a 26.6% increase in new enterprise application growth from 2019 to 2020. Madison ranked 80and up with an increase of 11.5 percent.

Fischer-Tracy reported no local declines in his office’s business startup work from 2019 to 2020. Startups have included fitness, retail, child care, event spaces and ” technical services’ such as the repair of computers and telephones.

“Like anything, the internet offers a wealth of information. It has allowed people to learn more about how they might develop an idea or an interest in their own business,” she said.

“I’m happy when they come to us. People often misunderstand how difficult it can be to start and run a business. »


The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) office at UW-Parkside offers a free consultation. A variety of online workshops (a fee is charged) are available. Call: 262-595-3362, email: [email protected] or visit the SBDC online.

Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. (WWBIC) serves Racine from offices located at 245 Main St., Suite 102 (phone: 262-898-5000) and Kenosha from offices located at 600 52n/a St., Suite 130 (phone: 262-925-2850). For more details on the services, visit WWBIC online.