I’m a full-time mother at home and very much wanted to start my own business at home were I can support my daughter and still be there.
Starting a business while parenting a young child. One very important factor to evaluate when considering starting a business is your personal life chapter. Starting and growing a business requires a tremendous amount of passion, commitment, time and energy. It is, truly, not for the faint of heart or for those who cannot commit most of their time and energy to the endeavor in the beginning phases. Getting a business up and running can easily consume the vast majority of your waking hours for months and months, if not years and years. Balancing that reality with the time and energy demands of a young child is a formula that often adds up to doing neither thing well. It’s very easy to neglegt both the business and the child in an effort to spread yourself between each. Both a young child and a young business are needy, self-centered creatures that are essentially black holes for your personal time and energy: they will take whatever you’ve got and more. While both children and businesses can be tremendously rewarding, they both require sustained investments of high levels of focus, time and energy to be have positive outcomes.
In addition to the time and energy demands of starting a business there is the economic reality. In 2009 the median income for a woman working full time in the U.S. was $36,278 (source: U.S. Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb10-144.html ). The economic reality of starting a business, especially one that you could run alone from your home while simultaneously caring for a young child, is that you would be very, very hard pressed to generate $36,278 in after-tax profit even after a year or two of operation. For the overwhelming majority of businesses it takes time to get to a point of profitability. In many cases, it can be months or years before you see your first penny of profit. Evaluate the ideas you have for a home-based business and do some basic economic calculations: Sales – cost of goods sold – cost of operations – cost of sales & maketing (advertising, etc.) – financing costs (interest on credit cards or loans) = profit. Do you have any ideas that can realistically come close to $36,278 annually? Can they come close to that while simultaneously raising a young child?
This is a very tough life chapter choice for you. If your daughter is younger than full-time school age, then you will probably need to pay for child care if you work full time. If you don’t work full time, you need to generate enough income working for yourself to provide for a decent life for your child and yourself.
As much as you’d love to be there at home, full-time, with your daughter as she grows, your own business is probably not the route to that goal. The chances of you starting and growing a viable business that would not, due to its own demands on your time and energy, cause you to short-change your parenting are slim. The chances of you starting and growing a viable business at home that could match what your earning potential is in a full-time job, especially when you include benefits such as health insurance for you and your daughter, are also slim.
This life chapter may be about earning money the best way you can while having evenings and weekends full-time with your daughter. You may also be able to slip in an evening class or two a week about entrepreneurship or a particular skill set that you could later build a business around. In a few years you could be better positioned in terms of life chapter, available time and energy, skill sets and finances to launch a new business than you are now.
None of this is to say it can’t be done. Many people have done it, made it work and been successful as both entrepreneurs and as parents. It is possible, it is just very rare and an extremely tough row to hoe. Don’t give up on the dream, but be extremely hard-nosed and pragmatic about the life chapter realities, the time and energy demands and the financial realities.
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