In little over a year Shannon Facchhina turned a love for children into a successful South Hill business. Caring Hearts Academy opened its doors in October 2018.
“We started one year ago with 23 families, and yesterday I took in my 45th enrollment,” Facchina says.
Longwood Small Business Development Center, Faccina notes, has been there every step of the way.
“I started keeping children in my home and did that for nine years,” she relates. “Then I had an opportunity to work in a church pre-school and worked there 11 years.”
When Facchina heard about the grant program offered by the Virginia Growth Alliance (VGA), she decided to participate. That’s where she met and began working with SBDC Business Analyst Brandon Hennessey.
“That’s how I became familiar with Longwood SBDC,” she adds. “During the competition Brandon put together all the numbers and demographics I needed to develop a budget. That helped me realize what I would need to start my own business.”
Compiling this data gave Facchina the answers to important questions.
“There was another licensed childcare facility in our area,” Facchina continues. “Did we have enough children to support another facility? We looked at median income to see how many families in the area could afford private childcare.”
SBDC also helped Facchina develop a business plan.
“That’s what I took to the bank when it was time to take out a loan to purchase the building,” she explains. “That plan was pivotal to obtaining the loan.”
While Facchina did not receive a VGA grant, she considers her connection with SBDC to be more valuable than dollars and cents.
“SBDC helped me develop everything — from my handbook to my budget to developing my pricing,” she adds.
Caring Hearts Academy continues to thrive as it enters its second year of operation.
“We started with seven employees,” Facchina notes. “Now we have 17 on the payroll, and we’ve doubled our enrollment.”
Parents appreciate the educational component Caring Hearts provides.
“We use a child-friendly curriculum for each age group from six months to kindergarten,” she explains. “Our goal is to get children ready for public education while allowing them to be little for as long as they can — something else I’m passionate about.”
Facchina plans to keep in touch with SBDC on a regular basis.
“I will continue to check in with Brandon every other month as things come up,” she says. “I feel very comfortable working with SBDC.”
Future plans for the business are on an annual review basis.
“We did a budget development for three years out but decided it would be somewhat of a living document we could tweak as needed,” Facchina explains.
Future business plans, Facchina affirms, will definitely include SBDC.
“SBDC has so many resources to help you build your knowledge base,” she concludes. “SBDC gave me all the tools I needed to start my own business.”