You’ve heard it before. Going into business is not for everyone; in fact, experts will tell you it's for a very select few. And according to Inc.com, 96 percent of businesses fail within 10 years. While these are U.S. figures, I think it applies to the Philippines as well.
Going into business when you have a young family, well, it is exponentially harder. The pressure of not knowing where to get your next paycheck, the physical and emotional energies you expend, and the lack of time to do everything you want make parenting a tough job. When you first start out with your business, you’re working so hard, yet you can easily lose money over the first six to 18 months, depending on the nature of your chosen industry. All your energy and attention are focused on growing the business. You need to sacrifice a lot of quality time with the family.
It isn’t a rosy picture, but on the flip side, the rewards of going into business is all that it's hyped up to be when it becomes a success -- the self-fulfillment, the time flexibility especially if it means spending quality time with the family, and, of course, the financial benefits. Just remember that all these rewarding attributes are attained over time.
I have two kids under the age of 5. So I needed to look hard at my priorities and the short- and long-term risks I was willing to take when I decided to become an entrepreneur. My ultimate goal was to be have the freedom and flexibility to be a constant presence during my children's formative years. I asked myself these six questions that became so useful when it came to making decisions.
1. Is the business opportunity something that can't wait in one to two years or when your kids are grown up? 2. Do you have at least six months' worth of savings to cover for the operational costs of the business without sacrificing the household budget? 3. Do you have an exit strategy if things don't go well? 4. Can you manage the business while still working at a 9-5 job or do you have to quit your job to do it? (Here's a nice book that can help you with this: The 10% entrepreneur by Patrick McGinnis, which details "how to live your startup dream without quitting your day job.") 5. Do you have people at home who can take care of your kids in the event you have to frequently or occasionally attend to business emergencies? 6. Do you think that in one to two years you would have achieved your goal of spending more time with the family as opposed to working in your 9-5 job?
The last question is what prompts most young couples including my wife and me to dive into the world of entrepreneurship.
Speaking of business plan, you cannot start your own venture without one (click here on how to make one). It is probably the best favor you can do for yourself when planning to put up a business, whether you have a young family or not. While I won't delve into what makes a good business plan, just be sure it answers question no. 3: what is your exit strategy? Good business plans always prepare for the worst case scenario. It should have metrics and thresholds because these will guide you if it's time to throw in the towel and cut your loss or if it's time to invest more and grow your business. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Let me end with the simplest and probably the oldest bit of advice on the subject matter: on a piece of paper, put a column each for “pros” and “cons.” Start writing down in each column your perceived pros and cons for putting up your business idea. The answer will be pretty obvious to you once you tally if which column outweighs the other at the end of the exercise.
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If it's dead even, think about giving your significant other the veto power to decide.
Nico Bacani is a husband to a loving wife and father to two rambunctious boys, ages 4 and 2. When not busy with his primary job--parenting--he dabbles in events, marketing, and advertising.