If you plan to start a small business, should you wait until your startup is successful to have children? Is it possible to balance the needs of family with the overwhelming demands of starting a new business?
Good questions--and here’s one take on the subject from Ed Reeves, co-founder and director of Moneypenny, the market-leading telephone answering specialists with offices in the U.S., the U.K., and New Zealand. (Instead of having random people in a massive call center take your calls, Moneypenny assigns one person to your account.)
Ed takes one position. You may feel differently. No one is right or wrong--we all have our own paths to success--but the subject is fascinating, and definitely thought-provoking.
Here’s a challenge for you. Name one high profile, or successful, entrepreneur who started out on their own after they had children.
Got one? I can think of a few--Melissa Kieling who created PackIt or Mifold inventor Jon Sumroy, for instance--but generally such examples are the exception to the rule. Like it or not, the odds on being a entrepreneur post-children--whether you're male or female--are considerably reduced, and the odds on you making your millions are even less again.
Let's look at the figures. It's estimated that 15 percent of new businesses will close their doors before they've even been trading a year, and 35 percent will fail once they reach trading adolescence in years two to five. That means a staggering 50 percent of all businesses won't make it past five years. And that's only survival.
Of those that do go beyond the five-year mark, the stats don't get much better. Around 70 percent of these will earn less than their comparative income as employees in the corporate world, 25 percent will earn an equal amount or greater, and just 5 percent will earn substantially more.
Take into account the fact that only half of all businesses will even get that far, and that means the odds of being financially better off by starting a new venture are a rather miserly 2.5 percent.
And the cost of getting there? Dedication, single-minded determination, and serious financial hardship--not to mention the non-existence of any free time. Work, for an entrepreneur, isn’t just a role for part of the day. It is their life.
That’s a pretty grim picture, and certainly not one to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs. There is a flip side, however (thank goodness), and it’s the most beautiful picture possible. It’s stunning.
Stepping away from the corporate grindstone is, unquestionably, one of the greatest, life-enhancing things any of us could do. Waking up in the morning and working purely because you love it: that’s the dream we as entrepreneurs are all chasing. Being in complete control of your destiny. Reaping the rewards of success. The list goes on.
You won’t find a single successful entrepreneur who wants to go back to being an employee. That fact alone says it all.
It's impossible to fully understand the importance of taking the entrepreneurial plunge before becoming a parent until you're in that position, though. Post-children, the added consequences of every twist and turn you take are all too real.
Putting your house on the line for a speculative venture, for instance…you’d have doubts. Putting your children’s home on the line, well, let's face it--you’re not going to do it. We’re not talking about a calculated risk at that moment; we’re talking about beating the odds.
To be more secure financially, you’d have better odds if you went to Vegas and placed your entire life savings on seven at the roulette table.
Not until your children fly the nest will you fully be able to commit to setting up your business in the way necessary to truly succeed. So park any ideas and use those parenting years to build up your plan. By their very nature, entrepreneurs are inherent risk-takers. Remove the drive to take those risks and failure is almost inevitable.
There’s no stronger pull towards risk-aversion than children. They’ll not so much clip your entrepreneurial wings as hack them off with a machete--and no wings means you’re not going to make that venture fly.
So is birth control a good thing? For the entrepreneur, yes, absolutely. Stay away from the bedroom. That’s the way to improve your odds of success. That old maxim, "Fortune favors the brave," is so true for entrepreneurs. Job No. 1 is to remove anything from the equation that will make you less brave.
And for the aspiring entrepreneur, that means crossing your legs.
As a father to two incredible children, I know this is certainly true in my own experience. The same can be said of my sister and Moneypenny co-founder Rachel, who has three wonderful children herself.
Moneypenny is now a leader in its field, with thousands of companies using our services around the world. So do our children limit our success?
Absolutely not. But then again, we’d have never started this business if we’d had them beforehand.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think?