Forget the stereotypical image of the young, single, and unattached entrepreneur. Nearly two-thirds of business founders have children. The question of how to juggle family and a start-up is a very real one for many entrepreneurs.

Like new companies, children require a lot of time, energy, and money. Spouses typically spend two-thirds less time with one another after the arrival of the first baby. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that it costs $233,610 to raise a child to the age of eighteen, or about $12,978 a year.

Can you successfully juggle children and a business? That depends. As you can see in the list below, there are pros and cons to every life stage. Your ability to grow a company while nurturing your offspring is largely affected by the resources and community support available to you.

Starting a business before having kids

Pros: In general, the stakes are lower if you have fewer dependents to support. You likely have more energy and stamina to give to your business. If you have a significant other, you can find time for that relationship without having to worry too much about other family relationships.

Cons: This will probably delay when you and your partner have children. In the long run, this could affect your fertility or the amount of energy you have to care for young ones. It may also make it harder to save up for future child-related costs.

Questions to consider:

  1. Am I willing to delay or even forgo having children to pursue this business? Is my significant other willing to do this?
  2. If fertility becomes an issue, am I willing to consider relying on expensive treatments and services, such as in vitro fertilization or egg freezing?

Starting a business with young kids

Pros: While young children need lots of love and attention, their needs are relatively straightforward and can be provided by other caring adults. If you are too busy to spend time with your kids, they'll likely be fine in the care of your spouse, grandparents, nannies, or other caretakers.

Cons: The parenting burden may fall disproportionately on your significant other or other loved ones, requiring sacrifices on their part that could lead to resentment and conflict. Hiring external care is a viable but expensive option, costing the average American family more than $11,500 a year. You could also be missing out on an important season of bonding.

Questions to consider:

  1. Will my partner or other family members willingly take on a disproportionate share of childcare?
  2. Will we have enough finances to pay for child-related costs, including clothing, furniture, and external care?

Starting a business with adolescents

Pros: At this age, children are fairly independent and won't require as much time from you or your spouse. They may even be old enough for you to involve them in the business, giving them valuable work experience and insight.

Cons: Adolescence can be a messy stew of puberty, peer pressure, and questions about identity, belonging, and purpose. Teenage children may need significant guidance and support from you. If you aren't available to them, they will likely turn to peers and others for that guidance.

Questions to consider:

  1. How involved do I want to be in the choices my teenagers make at this age?
  2. Are there other trusted family members or mentors who can support my children through adolescence?

Starting a business as an empty-nester

Pros: Once the kids are out of the house, you have far more time to dedicate to a new business. Your significant other won't be as deeply affected, given the reduction in family responsibilities. You've also had more time to save up a nest egg to help mitigate the financial risk.

Cons: Doing something as rigorous as a start-up later in life brings its own challenges, from health issues to dealing with age bias. You may also have to reserve significant financial resources for big-budget items like college tuition for the kids, care for aging parents, and your own retirement.

Questions to consider:

  1. Am I willing to wait this long before starting my own company? Will I resent my family if I do?
  2. Are my spouse and I both comfortable with the risks to health and finances that could come with doing this later in life?
Published on: Jun 13, 2017