How can I grow my start-up business?

One of the middle school students I taught in October as part of the Junior Achievement's "Dollars with Sense" Program asked a good question after class: "How can I get more babysitting jobs?" I turned to social media to help me answer it as I'm not a parent but the answers revealed that the key principles of growing any business apply:

  1. Go to where your audience is/where they are looking for you (playgrounds, websites in this example)
  2. Get referrals

From my facebook poll, here are the ideas for how to get more babysitting jobs (from adults/parents):

  1. Start a babysitter's club (like the books series, 1986)
  1. Post an ad on the kidsinvictoria website
  1. Print off some business cards and give 5 each to the families that you already babysit for. That way you can get a good referral right off the bat. Also, bulletin boards in local daycares.
  1. Go to playgrounds (preferably busy ones) while babysitting. If you’re doing a good job and parents there find out you are a babysitter you’ll get offers. That's how we got a couple sitters. When you don't know the person or have a referral from a friend, it's a nice way for parents to see how the sitter behaves with kids first before trusting their kids with the babysitter.
  1. I got a lot of jobs because I was genuinely interested in and cared about the kids I babysat. I knew them and would spend time with them even when I wasn't being paid. I suggest getting to know the families in your neighbourhood, volunteer to be a mother's helper or volunteer at her church's nursery. Once one family likes you, word will get out!
  1. Make connections with your teachers. Those were my primary "clients" during my babysitting years... and they referred me to a lot of non-teaching parents when they were happy with how I looked after their own kids.
  1. Are you involved with a church? Volunteer in the nursery or with Sunday school. Volunteer at local preschool events - this is the season of fall fairs. Talk to the nannies at your school that watch little kids so they will refer you to the parents. If you know preschool parents - many have a newsletter you maybe able to post a notice.
  1. I mowed lawns as a kid - made flyers and delivered them to all the houses within 4 square blocks. It worked well.
  1. When I was getting my piano teaching going in high school, I put up one of those tear off strip ads in the local grocery store. Worked better than I thought.
  1. I used to go around my neighbourhood and introduce myself and give them my phone number. People like not having to drive far after they've been out for the evening. She should also know how much she charges. It works better than a sign because they get to meet you.