Echo a lot of Watersign says. And sorry, this is going to be long, really long!
I have worked as a children's entertainer for 10 plus years as a sideline to my 'real' job as a music teacher - I work with under fives and also as a private instrumental music teacher.
As well as all the factors Watersign has pointed out, you also need to consider you will probably only be working 2 days a week as most parties are at weekends. It will take some time to build up a sufficient reputation to make it profitable (most of my parties are booked word of mouth) even if you set up with minimum expenditure.
Also please consider this - some parties are great, the children are well behaved, the parents appreciative, the venue easily accessible and all is well, but can I share a few of my personal horror stories with you. I have done in excess of 1500 parties with, fortunately, only a few nasty ones but you need to be prepared for the worst:
(a) being booked for a christening party to entertain the children. Despite having informed the parents beforehand that a ratio of at least one adult for every 4 childen under 3 was required unless paying for additional staff to be present, I turn up to find all the parents completely bladdered, with 30 children under 3, expecting me to keep them all busy for 90 minutes. Lesson: make sure they don't expect you to be a cheap version of a creche and check your adult to child ratios carefully for children under 5.
(b) being asked to do a party for a 3 year old (and preparing for such) only to have everyone else at the party being 5 or older despite having asked in advance the age range of the children attending. Party was totally unsuitable for the older children who were bored and the 3 year was completely confused by the whole thing. The parents weren't happy and bounced their cheque. Lesson: ask and ask again, the age range of the children attending the party.
(c) doing a recent party for a 5 yr old. Lovely parents, I know them well through my music classes, but the other parents in her year really took the piss - only 20 out of 30 replied, but on the day all 30 turned up, with siblings in toe. Not just little ones but older kids too. The worst offender was one mum who turned up with 3 of which only 1 was invited. The other 2 were older and a complete pain in the arse. The oddest thing is the mum never left - she sat in a corner with her eyes closed, while the 7 and 9 year olds ran amok until I asked them to sit out. Then she had a go at me at not letting her children enjoy themselves - bearing in mind they weren't actually invited I think I did a pretty good job at not having a go back but merely stated that they were being disruptive and needed to stay away from the younger children. Lesson: people are odd!
So yes, you may be able to do better than people you've seen but please be prepared for a lot of stress on the day, long hours of preparation, time spent sorting out your advertising and promotional work, oh and did I mention a lot of stress on the day?
Agree so much with Watersign76. However, do under 5's need an entertainer? Around here its crazy golf, softplay, community farms etc and it works out £10 - £12 per person. The children love it and parents feel that they get value. On average how much do parents spend including the venue,food and cake - I would say £120ish. Usually for that there is no cleaning up either.
I think its ok as an occassional business - ad-hoc but isnt going to make you much money at all. You have to guess the number of bookings - say once a fortnight???
I wouldnt dream of an entertainer for either of my boys. DS2 (2) would rather run roit in softplay. He hasnt had a party yet but then again DS1 (now 5) only had one at 4 at the local leisure centre with bouncy castle, very simple, did my own food and the children were satisfied - (cost about £100).
Yes I think there is a market, but that depends where you are. I'd start with the competition where you are locally, as that is what your customers are potentially doing, aside from recommendations. Look online, in local parent focused mags etc.
Turning up and being paid £185 (which is what my friend paid for a lady to entertain 20 4 year olds last week) is great, but you need to take into account; *tax, *public liability insurance (I assume), *the outfit *the props (she used music, bubbles, balloons) * cost of materials for party bags * CRB check (again I am guessing) * marketing costs - website, flyers, business cards
and then the time to prepare for the day, so speaking to (maybe even meeting) the parents, preparing the party bags and the 'act'. And then the other general stuff which comes with a business; admin, accounts marketing/sales.
The entertainer above is contactable via an agency I think, so that might be one option.
However, the above is about the long term viablity of the business. There is nothing stopping you being the entertainer at DD's party and offering some cheap busines cards as a first step to test the market.
One thing I would say (but I don't know any children's entertainers, so not sure if I am right) is that I there is probably a limit to number of times a friendship group will hire x. If I have been to 2 parties where Mr Wibble is entertaining, I am unlikely to hire Mr Wibble for my DS's party, I'd rather have somebody new.
Anyway this is all a bit negative, which I didn't mean to be. I would be inclinded to float the idea with parents locally - what is it they are looking for? and test the waters.
Now I am well aware this is not exactly an origional idea but IME there does seem to be quite a lot of scope for business in this area. Needless to say, please be gentle-I'm new to mumsnet :-) So, countless times I have been to kids parties where an entertainer has been used and thought 'I could easy do a better job than that' and seen the entertainer be paid around £80 for their troubles. So my idea is themed kids parties aimed mainly at under 5s (to young for the scary clown or magic show). I would provide the entertainment, prizes, party bags, parents provide venue, food and cake (or maybe offere a range of levels of service for varying prices). I was thinking start with DD's 5th party and if people say 'ooh you were good' say '....well I can do your DD/DS party for X amount' and/or business cards in the party bags as a means of getting started. I do have a fairly large amount of contacts. Any advice/ideas.. please be gentle lol. TIA