Zarina Fatima left behind a career in the IT industry to launch Little Oz Kids Family Day Care. Now the mother of two runs a thriving business, coordinating 60 educators across the state, who take care of children in their homes.

Growing up in India, Zarina says she recognised the sacrifices her mother made in order to take care of her and her two siblings, putting aside her career aspirations. After having children of her own, Zarina felt a similar tug to provide for her kids and decided to launch a business where she could spend more time with her children and help other parents in the same situation.

Given her background in IT and administration, Zarina quickly realised she had the organisational skills to run a network of family day care operators and Little Oz Kids Family Day Care was born. Setting up an office in her home, Zarina now manages the operations of a slew of family day cares with 450 kids under her wing.

“I manage all the administration and working of my coordinators in my company,” she tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB). “I have 60 educators working under me, who take care of kids at their family day care premises. As of now, my educators care for over 450 kids all together in Sydney.”

Zarina has also used her business to outreach to women in need, providing access via Ability Links to assist women who have experienced domestic and family violence (DFV) a pathway to return to work.

“Because of their situation, they may not be in a position to go out to work to earn money. So we have stepped in to show them the way to get started earning money could be setting up a family day care at their residences and caring for other people’s children.”

Zarina says the benefits to DFV survivors is two-fold.

“Now they are enjoying being in the workforce and becoming financially independent as well as they are spending quality time with their kids.”

Care can range from short to long term and all child care workers must have specific qualifications such as up-to-date first aid certificates.

“Our educators offer vacation care, long day care, occasional care and a school readiness program for kids who are going to join school next year.”

Zarine says keeping up with all the compliances is the main sticking point in the day-to-day running of her business.

“Compliances are the major part which one needs to follow while running this business. One should make sure at no point compliances are breached. Educators need to comply with all the rules and regulation of the National Quality Framework.”

While most small businesses struggle with cash flow Zarina says putting processes in place such as accounting solutions, can assist in dealing with these challenges.  With three full-time staff assisting her with coordination and 60 family day cares to manage, it’s imperative that funds keep flowing.

“Being in small business is very challenging. Especially with no funding assistance available from the government,” Zarina says. Whilst she says she may one day open commercial premises at the moment her best option is to continue to run her business out of her home office.

Despite running a business from home, Zarina says there is always help on hand should she need it.

“I need to report all compliances and issues to the Department of Education. [But] The regulatory authority is always available on the phone and email to help us with all doubts and queries.”

Given the nature of family day care, which revolves around family’s schedules, Zarina tells us the toughest part of her job is coordinating annual leave.

“Running a business and going for holidays is tough. So I close my business during Christmas time, to make sure I have a relaxing break of two weeks.

In spite of the long hours and hard work, the successful small business owner suggests anyone with a great idea and a passion to start their own business should give it a go.

“I would say it’s never too late to start. Where there is a will, there is a way.”

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