Everyone has a story


Image by Mooie Fee Photography
Where it all began

Dinky Ones was born one sleepless night in late 2014 in one of those light bulb moments that strike when we least expect them but fill us with feelings of joy and excitement.


Until that point I'd never considered starting a new life as a consultant but that night was the beginning of a journey which four years later I'm still loving every minute of.

I'm Sally Gridley, an award winning business woman, with over 25 years experience of working with children or with people who work with them. 

Having had my interest sparked at a very young age (thank you Mary Poppins) I've had a wide and varied career and have managed charity led pre-schools and large day nursery's, worked for the Pre-school Learning Alliance and my Local Authority as well as owning my own pre-school.

It was my own setting that was the real starting point of my Dinky Ones story. I had always dreamed of having my own nursery so when the opportunity arose in 2012 to take over an existing pre-school I left the local authority and jumped in with both feet. Without going into too much detail this transpired to be the biggest mistake I ever made, certainly professionally but personally too and a year later I walked away, a broken and unwell woman.

When you hit rock bottom, which is where I was, the only way is up from there. But it wasn't easy. I found myself questioning my ability, feeling like a failure and totally confused as to what to do next. I think at that point I knew I didn't want to go back to working for someone else but what the hell WAS I going to do?

"If you're there to help people my ethos is you help them"
WINNER KWIB 2016 logo SMALL.jpg
FINALIST KWIBA 2018 logo large.jpg

The first step was to get myself better, find my confidence and overcome the feelings of failure. It took time but with the support of a very loving family, two amazing kids and a lot of rediscovering who I was and what was important to me I started to move forward. Then at 2 am one mid-August morning in 2014 it happened.

Laying in bed, unable to sleep again, I had a sudden and overwhelming realisation that I should set up my own business, supporting childcare providers in the same way that I had for 11 years at the LA.


Only I could do it better!

I could do it without the bureaucracy of local government, I could make a real difference, I could build fantastic relationships with my clients and be as involved as they wanted me to be, something which I was always in trouble for at the LA. My line manager's favourite line was "Sally you're too involved. Take a step back, give them the advice and leave them to get on with it". Soooooo not in my nature!!!

If you're there to help people my ethos is you help them. You don't go into their business tell them what they need to do and leave them with a huge list of things to do before your next visit. Dinky Ones was going to hold your hand if you needed it, be there for you late in the evening and at weekends and listen to what you needed rather than dictating what anyone else thought you did.

So that was where it started. By 5 am that August morning, I had a name (more on that in a minute), a business model, rough financial figures and a list of services. But more importantly, I had a plan that I was excited about and boundless enthusiasm.


Sally was back!!

Dinky Ones officially began trading on May 12th 2015, I was awarded Kent Start-Up Business Woman of the Year in 2016 when less than a year old, was a finalist in 2018 and 4 years later it's a very different business to the one that was written on flip charts that night. But although the model has changed the ethos and mission remains the same.......

I believe that every manager, owner, committee and childminder deserves the best advice, guidance, training and resources to support them with managing and getting the best from themselves and their business, whenever they need it, for as long as they need it.



The Business Club is our community of childminders, pre-school, nursery and after school club managers and owners.



The Incorporation Package provides a full management service to convert your charity pre-school to a CIO



Pay as you go consultancy days are available for all childcare settings whether it's for advice or to deal with specific issues

Who I work with.....
How I can help.....

YOU are the most important person in your childcare setting, the one that everyone relies on, the glue that holds it all together and the one who stops the wheels falling off.

You're amazing at what you do but sometimes it all gets a little too much.

This needs doing, that needs sorting, Jane needs to rearrange her supervision, Mrs Jones needs to be chased for outstanding fees, you need to put the budgets together, not to mention the policy and procedure review that you were planning to do 2 months ago and now you have to rearrange the AGM as none of the parents turned up!!


Is juggling 15 balls simultaneously an essential or desirable criteria in your job description?!?!

I understand these challenges so here are just a few of the ways I can help you......

  • The Business Club: my annual membership scheme where you can access monthly training tutorials to learn new skills, keep up to date with legislation, be inspired with tips and advice and hang out with a community of like minded people all supporting one another.

  • Pay-As-You-Go Consultancy: if you have a particular issue and need advice or training I can visit you on an ad-hoc basis.The sorts of things I've helped other clients with include writing business plans, marketing, dealing with committee issues, budgeting, staffing issues, recruitment (including sitting in on interviews) and training for parent committees in charity managed pre-schools.

  • Charity Governance: I provide a package of support to unincorporated pre-school providers wishing to convert to Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIO). When your time is constrained this is something which many settings have explored but discounted due to the work involved. With The Incorporation Package I manage the whole process for you from start to finish.​ 

  • Facebook Groups: I facilitate a range of Facebook groups where you can find support and advice from communities of like-minded people. To see which group/s might be for you click here.

  • Resources: My online shop has a range of tried and tested template forms, policies, tool-kits and other documents all designed to help you with managing your business. When time is tight why not see if I have what you need before re-inventing the wheel and creating your own

Let's have a chat and see how I can help.....

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I think it's important to know what you are getting when you work with me so here are a few of my "best bits"

Straight talking, easy to understand advice and guidance with no fuss or frills.

A spades a spade right? True it's a metal bladed, wooden handled implement for cutting into the ground and digging out the earth to make a hole, BUT WHY OVER COMPLICATE THINGS!

Stand and deliver.

Good customer service is at the core of any business and I'm no different. If you're not happy with the service I provide you have permission to tell me so!


Always and without doubt, the best policy in my book. I am a little renowned for being brutally honest sometimes so if you're not one for taking criticism well (however constructive it may be) you may not want to work with me.

Collaboration and compassion.

Far too often you are dictated to as to how to run your business whether it's your LA or Ofsted calling the shots. It's your business! You run it as you want to (so long as you're meeting regulations) and I'll help you along the way. I've been there and done it. I get what it's like to be you.

One of my former colleagues at the local authority once said this about me - "she is a woman with a strong character, morals and discipline. Not something you come across very often". 


I'll take that.

What you can expect.....
And why Dinky Ones

'Dinky' is a phrase I remember my mum always using when I was growing up to describe something that was little. Nothing in our house was ever little, it was always dinky and I guess it's just stuck.

Whilst there's nothing dinky about what I do and how I help my clients, you devote your time and efforts to the dinky ones in your care.


So that sleepless night when my business was born, Dinky Ones just seemed the obvious choice.