Parents in an Age of Entrepreneurship

There was a time when we were spending almost $35,000 a year on child care. My oldest was in day care, and my youngest was just born, and, with no infant day care in the neighborhood, we decided to hire a nanny. Note that I didn't say we were forced to hire a nanny. I am a firm believer in the ready availability of choices, no matter how limited the options. We could have looked outside the neighborhood for infant day care. We could have hired a nanny to watch both kids. We could have done any number of things.


I also chose not to pursue my entrepreneurial goals at that time. This is the dirty little secret entrepreneurs don't talk about enough: kids are expensive. But more important, if we are aligning our values with our priorities and it is important to us to be decent parents, we must acknowledge that our personal goals inevitably will be subject to compromise. That may be true with marriage (and I believe it to be true), but it is definitely true with a child and even more so with more than one child.

People like to talk to me about my concept of the T.E.E.M. budget: Time, Energy, Emotion, and Money, which can all be squandered or replenished, because only considering financial risks and investments is myopic. But assigning a value to the T.E.E. can prove difficult, until you can realistically identify the replacement cost. So, for instance, if I, as a parent, want to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams, but I realize it will require being away from my kids, I have to factor in, among other things, the $35K child care costs + the inevitable reduction in  reliable and immediate income, and, depending on my personality type (which can be determined nicely at, my energy may be sapped or replenished by the risks inherent in entrepreneurship.

I love to hear what Tim Ferriss or Marie Forleo or Brendon Burchard or Ramit Sethi have to say about designing a lifestyle that is fulfilling and adding value to this world. But I find that their message is blunted by the fact that they have not experienced the zig-zagging pendulum life of a parent (which is just as zig-zaggy as the life of an entrepreneur--compounding the zig-zag, not canceling it out). Their T.E.E.M. budget does not answer to a tiny dependent. They do not have another person whose very existence depends on them, and is therefore more important than their very own, at least for a few years.

Yes, a parent of multiple young children can be a successful entrepreneur, but it is a choice that is not without serious potential consequences. It would be easy to follow the Hollywood storyline and say, "Throw caution to the wind! You only live once! Screw the 9 to 5! God will provide!" That may all be true. But, as an adviser, I cannot in good conscience suggest a parent subject his or her family to serious sacrifice without some serious exploration of worst case scenarios and without some serious conversation.