Which Comes First: New Baby or New Company?
Starting a business won't relieve you of work/family challenges
Here's a question from a reader that sums up the quandaries women face these days:
"I'm 27, and have five years of experience in marketing in the
information technology industry. I'm recently married and am planning a
family. I'm also thinking of starting my own marketing consultancy
firm. Should I start the business now or get a corporate job with a steady
income job first? Should I wait till my child is born before I start my
There are no rules for juggling jobs, business startups, pregnancy,
and raising children. You can plan all you want. It might take you two
years or two months to get pregnant. And each option has its pros and cons.
What works will depend on your stamina, health, and finances.
Let's say you get a corporate job and then get pregnant. If you have the
stamina and your pregnancy is easy, that can be a good time to prepare
for starting a business. You'll have paid maternity leave, health
insurance, sick days, and long-term disability if your pregnancy is not
a smooth one. You may also be able to save some seed money for your
When I was pregnant with my first baby, Sarah, I worked nights and
weekends to get a book contract so that I could quit my full-time job
as a human-resources director and become an author and columnist. During my maternity leave, I worked feverishly on my first book. I returned to work for three months and
then resigned to devote myself full-time to my new business.
There are also advantages to launching your business before
you have the distractions of an infant in the house. A new business is
all-consuming -- so is a new baby. When the baby comes along, your
company will be up and running. As your own boss, you'll have more control
over your schedule than if you worked for a company.
With babies No. 2 and 3, I was self-employed -- and did I
appreciate being able to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon! The
flexibility was especially helpful as I neared the end of my
pregnancies. Three days after giving birth, I was back at the computer working.
A key question is: Do you want to start a business only because you think it will
be more convenient than working for someone else once you're a parent?
If you're not cut out for self-employment -- or not ready for it now --
it will be a struggle. It takes capital, courage, and contacts to make a
Whatever path you choose, you will always be searching for better ways
to balance work and family. Self-employment is no holiday from stress.
You can make any of the options you're considering work. Follow your