Gini Dietrich

Having Children Means You Can’t Run a Start-Up

By: Gini Dietrich | October 12, 2010 | 
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This past Sunday, I received a nice note from my hilarious friend, Laura Petrolino, asking me to comment on Saturday’s TechCrunch story, “Women don’t want to run start-ups because they’d rather have children.”

If you’ve not yet had a chance to read the story, you can find it here.  First, congratulations to Penelope Trunk, the founder of Brazen Careerist. The article was well-written and she makes a very honest, introspective, and great point. I’ve often wondered, myself, why there are so few women who travel. Why there are so few women who build and sell companies. Why there are so few women who make the list of billionaire entrepreneurs. Now I know why: Children.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about what having children would do to the business. And not just one business (Arment Dietrich), but two (Project Jack Bauer). You see (and this likely won’t come as a surprise to any of you), I’m a perfectionist. It drives me crazy that I ride my bike 300 miles a week, eat healthfully (with the occasional cheese dip thrown in), and I still have this little spot above my left knee that I can’t get rid of – no matter how muscular the rest of my legs. I have a hard time sitting in my Vistage meetings and watching my peers talk about their businesses without wondering when I’m going to hit their level of success. My house is spotless, yet I watch an episode of Hoarders and spend the next six hours cleaning out every closet. Sure, it might be borderline OCD, but it affects every aspect of my life, from client service and building a start-up to a clean house and gourmet dinners.

So, how on earth, would I also add children into that equation? Because, if anything should be perfect, it should be raising children.

But I guess we can’t have it all, can we? And that’s why I don’t see very many women in First Class when I fly. And that’s why we don’t read about Megan Zuckerberg or Stephanie Jobs or Barbara Gates. Because, when it comes down to it, raising kids isn’t feasible if you also want to build the next Facebook, Microsoft, or Apple.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it? But in the words of my very wise mother, “Life isn’t fair.”

So the next time someone asks me why Mr. D and I don’t have kids and instead of me replying that it’s none of your business (which is what I really want to say), but instead joke about having kids in the form of two businesses and employees, don’t in one breath say, “Wow. That’s so sad.” And in another breath say you wish you could ride 300 miles a week and grow a business. Because, the truth of the matter is, you can’t have both.

P.S. Laura also wrote a great blog post today on this topic and combined thoughts from many women entrepreneurs. It’s worth checking out.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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118 Comments on "Having Children Means You Can’t Run a Start-Up"

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Debra
Debra
5 years 8 months ago

My mother, a very wise woman, told me that children educate you on the value of dirt: “There’s clean dirt, and there’s dirty dirt, and clean dirt won’t hurt you.” Children help you realize that life is a messy business, and a little mess is good for the soul (so says the woman with two dogs and no children).

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@Debra When I got married, my mom said, “He won’t make the bed the same way you do, but be grateful he makes the bed.” That was great training for having employees. And I would guess kids do the same thing for you!

Debra
Debra
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Mom managed a husband and six children on this philosophy with the skill of what one friend says reminded her of an army general – she was teaching several lessons in one: That you could have perfection or you could get things done; that a little chaos and rough edges is actually good for you; and that if you obsess about the teeny details you’re going to let the overall objectives slip away. Not a bad lesson for business and career, and all from a woman who never went to high school.

manamica
5 years 8 months ago

I had this debate with one of your Vistage fellows the other day. He claimed few if any people, men or women, start businesses AFTER having children. While I’m sure fewer do compared to “before” having children, I still seem to run into many women who didn’t think to stat a business untile AFTER. Being home with a first-born seems to be a catalyst for ideas. But I do think the whole life-work balance is different for men and women regardless of their entrepreneurial status. Don’t you think?

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@manamica I completely think that life-work balance is MUCH different for men and women. And I agree that being home with a first-born is a catalyst for ideas. My point of the blog post is having a venture-funded start-up that blazes a new trail and becomes the next Oprah or Facebook. You just can’t do that with kids at home. Not if you want to spend time in their lives and activities.

janbeery
janbeery
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich @manamica Agreed! would be tough to juggle.

manamica
5 years 8 months ago

@janbeery @ginidietrich yeah, it would be insanely hard. And something’s gotta give… the possibility that the “kids” “gotta give” is surely a deal-breaker.

jeanniecw
jeanniecw
5 years 8 months ago
Ok, I’m going in! This is such a tough subject, and one that I find annoyingly woman-centric. In most cases (though not all) there are 2 parents involved in making and raising a child. I have run a business, started a business and had 2 children when my work life was most hectic. I won’t deny there are some very hard decisions to make, but overall a lot of my life is about balancing decisions with my awesome husband who is also a very involved parent. I’m also a big believer in the bank of life. In my 20’s, after… Read more »
HeidiMassey
HeidiMassey
5 years 8 months ago

@jeanniecw Thank you for a wonderful and balanced comment! You are SPOT ON! The black and white view, or the discussion focusing only on women is too narrow and misses some important ideas. Thanks for voicing those views!

jeanniecw
jeanniecw
5 years 8 months ago

@HeidiMassey Thanks, Heidi. This is such a multi-faceted and profoundly personal decision, I believe. I get a little worked up about the generalizations. 🙂

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@jeanniecw You absolutely have a wonderful and balanced comment as @HeidiMassey points out. But my point is that if you want to be the next Bill Gates, you can’t do it with kids at home. You can do it before you have kids and I’d venture to guess you can do it after they become self-sufficient. But if I were to start a family right now, Project Jack Bauer would go on the back burner and I’d never launch it.

timjahn
timjahn
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Maybe for you, that’s true. But there are plenty of people who could juggle launching Project Jack Bauer and raising children successfully. In fact, many people do so every day.

I’ve watched a few Mixergy interivews in the past week alone that featured entrepreneurs who launched a business while having kids. Was it easy? No. Were they successful? Yes.

Making such a blanket statement is unfortunate.

aspinchick
aspinchick
5 years 8 months ago
Gini, true and not true. I’ve been running businesses of my own both before and after having children. I would have it no other way. I am in the middle of launching another new venture while having an 11-year-old and 14-year-old – and being a single mother to boot. Do you know what I give up in order to do this? R&R time. Free time. Whatever that would mean. But that’s OK, because being self-employed gives me a flexible schedule where I can take care of my responsibilities and then pull an all-nighter if I have to. The kids get… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@aspinchick I love that you still get your cycling! A woman after my own heart. Did you start a business and have employees and investors and partners when your kids were little?

wabbitoid
wabbitoid
5 years 8 months ago
When I was recently divorced, I took the buyout from the well paid research job I had with a big company and spent as much time as I could with my kids. I picked them up every day from school, shuffled them off to piano lessons, and probably spent more waking hours with them than their mom did. I made ends meet working at just about anything I could, being a part of 2 start-ups and doing consulting on my own. It was tough, and it’s still tough, but I made my choice. Today, it’s especially hard for me to… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@wabbitoid Erik, this is probably the best comment I’ve seen from you on Spin Sucks. You’re 100 percent correct that this just about women and I’m sorry for making it so. But you made my point – if I had kids now, I would either have to give up building this business to its fullest vision, find a 50/50 partner to build it, or not spend time with my kids in the first years of their lives. Something would definitely give.

wabbitoid
wabbitoid
5 years 8 months ago
@ginidietrich Thanks, Gini … I don’t like to talk about myself because 1) I don’t like to talk about myself, and 2) I don’t want people to think I’m whining. I knew what the score was and made my decisions – and would never take anything back. But this is a critical issue to me in part because this situation does tend to hold women back far more than men and that’s just wrong. But as time goes on there’s more equity in sharing this pain along with the joys of parenthood and that is a good thing, IMHO. Just… Read more »
timjahn
timjahn
5 years 8 months ago
Having been a parent for 7 weeks now, my initial response is yes, it would be tough. Startups require almost a 24/7 commitment and so do children (or even a single child). But upon further thought, I’m doing just that. I’m working like crazy to build a business (BeyondThePedway.com), maintain my freelance web development business, and be there for every moment in my child’s amazing new life. In fact, that’s part of the reason I choose to work for myself – so that I can always be around for my kid (or at least as much as possible). I’m not… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@timjahn I totally agree with you! And you have a great opportunity in that you work from home and have a super flexible schedule. But what I’m talking about here is a venture-funded start-up business that requires you to build something so your investors make money. You can’t do that with a seven week at home.

timjahn
timjahn
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Thats a valid point. One could argue that the pressure of the investors would never match the pressure of wanting to provide your 7 week old to have the best life possible.

The investors want you to make money, yes. But your kid wants you to even more so.

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@timjahn Totally agree! But that’s the point…something gives and it’s likely not your family. When you have investors, though, you can’t step away from making them money, after you’ve made the commitment. So they’re pushing you to work 24/7 and you have that face at home pleading you to come home. I absolutely think you can have both…just not at the same time.

timjahn
timjahn
5 years 8 months ago
@ginidietrich I understand your angle. But in my eyes, you CAN walk away from the investor. Yes, there will be legal crap to sort out, they’ll sue you, you may lose money, etc. But at the end of the day, you can walk away. Your kid? You can’t walk away from him (and you most likely would never want to). At the end of the day, you have to provide him with his basic needs at the very least. I’ve never had to answer to an investor, but I cannot imagine their wants and needs being more powerful than wanting… Read more »
lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 8 months ago
@timjahn I think it shows in your comments that you haven’t worked with investors. You CAN NOT just turn your back on investors unless you want to be in some serious trouble. The thing is, once you are a part of a startup and you are actually IN the the investors, bailing on them could be the end of your life as you know it. If you do not deliver to the investors what they need, you will loose everything. They can come after you with a lot more resources and power than you have. It will mean that you… Read more »
timjahn
timjahn
5 years 8 months ago

@lindsayanng – That may be but who says startups have to have investors. Plenty of people start their own businesses bootstrapping with kids.

People that are obsessed with VC probably shouldn’t be starting businesses anyway.

lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 8 months ago

@timjahn You’ve missed a good deal of this conversation apparently. A startup IS NOT a small business that are you are starting with your self, your family, or a friend. A startup is a venture capital funded or angel invested business that definitely, without a doubt, has investors.

And this is the reason why you can not have kids with a true startup

timjahn
timjahn
5 years 8 months ago

@lindsayanng I’m not going to sit here and argue syntax but you’re definitely mistaken. A “startup” does NOT need investors and CAN be bootstrapped.

Clearly you’re one of the VC zombies and we will not see eye to eye.

Therefore, yes, you can have kids while working on a “startup”. It’s silly to suggest otherwise.

lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 8 months ago
@timjahn Syntax? You mean SEMANTICS. Anyways, I am not argueing the semantics and if you did actually read the comments, like I suggested in my last post to you, you would see that the original poster DOES define a startup by the presence of angel investors and venture ccapitalists. The definition of “startup” is different depending on who you talk to, so you should probably figure out what the original poster’s definition is before you start to get all uppidy. And using terms like ‘VC Zombies’ only makes yourself seem self important and tosses yourself up on a pedestal, which… Read more »
3HatsComm
3HatsComm
5 years 8 months ago
Gini, I get what you’re saying, tip my hat to you for posting it. My objection is the blanket statement. May not be ideal, the statistics may disprove it, etc. but I just pause at “women” vs. some, which I know you also mention “few.” As I type this, I already see some other posts with objections of their own. The other day I almost jokingly called someone out for instilling sexist ideals in impressionable youth. Someone’s niece wanted to dress up as a Samurai for Halloween; someone else said essentially: “she can’t be a Samurai, she’s a girl” and… Read more »
JulieWalraven
JulieWalraven
5 years 8 months ago

I started Design Resumes as a sideline business before I had children. Went full-time when life threw me for a loop and the jobs out there wouldn’t come close to covering child care for 2 children under the age of two.

I added contracts with non-profits, dropped them, and wondered how to balance everything. I volunteered, networked, and unfortunately, everything didn’t turn out perfect.

But life rarely is – perfect… I admire your energy, Gini, come over and you can find plenty of closets to clean…

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@JulieWalraven Get Hoarders on and I’ll clean your closets!

StarrMcCaffery
StarrMcCaffery
5 years 8 months ago

3 businesses ages 20, 6 and 2. 3 kids ages 12, 10 and 8.

Perfection? Well, the middle company is struggling. No, not middle-child syndrome, just too many clients in the homebuilding industry before the crash. The other 2 make up for her and we’re confident she will recover as she’s also served clients in the ever-hot healthcare and insurance industries.

Oh, and did I mention 2 dogs, a cat & a Russian tortoise?

LauraPetrolino
5 years 8 months ago
Great thoughts Gini! a) It scares me how similarly neurotic we are b) Life is all about choices. Period. You can choose who you are, what you do, when you do it…really when it comes down to it (no matter what excuses that people tell themselves), life is one big choice, and it is up to you to make it. I think the thing about Penelope’s article that is most infuriating to me, is not her stereotypical thinking, or her pigeon hole-ing of what women ‘should’ want, but more the glass ceiling that she puts on the heads of all… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@LauraPetrolino You are SPOT ON by saying we hold one another back. I hear snickers behind my back ALL THE TIME when other women find out I don’t have kids. I mean, they snicker. Or they feel sorry for me. My friends feel sorry for me. It really angers me.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich @LauraPetrolino It’s the “should,” the limits and expectations based upon what someone else thinks women “should” want or do. What really sets me off Gini, is when I’m told that I don’t “have a family” because I’m not married with kids. Limiting “family” to marriage with kids, that’s crap IMHO. I have parents, siblings. Plus I have DEAR friends, whose kids are almost like my own .. except I’m not saving for college funds ;-). I have a great family. FWIW.

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@3HatsComm @LauraPetrolino I totally agree with you…but I think that topic is a different blog post. It’s really disgusting to me that if you don’t follow society’s “rules” for a family, you’re not doing it right. And while we’re on the topic, does that mean if you’re gay or lesbian, your family doesn’t count. Gimme a break.

MimiMeredith
MimiMeredith
5 years 8 months ago
Gini, my friend Margie Traylor just went to Washington, D.C. to accept the award for SBA 2010 Small Business Person of the Year for Arizona. She started Sitewire, an interactive ad agency, 11 years ago, when her two sons were in elementary school. Today, she has more than 50 employees, an incredible client list, she just became CEO of a second company–Whale Hunters, she founded our amazing Estrogen Ink book group, she travels all the time and her sons are loving and well adjusted. Personally, I loved running my agency when I had babies. It was challenging, but so rewarding… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@MimiMeredith Margie needs to come talk to all of us! She’s one of the few.

lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 8 months ago
Pretty great post!! My husband and I are married 3 years, no kids, and some pets. I get sooo sick of the “Why dont you/when you are you” questions!! When it’s my mom asking it’s one thing – when it’s strangers it entirely different.. and the the worse is when you meet a stranger who, after you tell them that you have no desire for kids, they look you in the eyes and say “Ohh hun, don’t worry, you will some day” YOU DONT EVEN KNOW ME!! Anyways, enough of my rant. I think that the truth of the matter… Read more »
RyanLeeCox
RyanLeeCox
5 years 8 months ago
Gini, I loved this post for its authenticity, however I think I disagree with you. And here is the reason. As most know, I’m adopting my sisters two boys, and I’m a part of a couple startups. And I refuse to believe that because I’m playing Dad&Mom, that I will not be able to run a startup. I simply refuse to believe it. So I take this post as a challenge. Furthermore, I think that I am going to start a blog and account the entire journey. I am an equal perfectionist, I obsess over success, and I simply refuse… Read more »
3HatsComm
3HatsComm
5 years 8 months ago

@RyanLeeCox There are exceptions to all rules for sure. Part of me really agrees with Jenny and Gini about the hooey of “having it all” but then there’s part of my that says that I define what ALL means for me, what having and doing it all WELL looks like per my perfectionist standards. So too will yours. I wish you well, will BOLO your blog to see how you answer the challenge.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 8 months ago
Hmmm, well I have 3 kids, 12, 9 & 6 plus this little business that hubby and I formed. Thank God a perfectionist I am not, since I was thrown into the Sales/Marketing (and anything else that needed to be done) that I had no clue how to do. But, guess what, we had a dream and forged full steam ahead. Sure, I don’t travel for business….heck a lot of times I can be found working with kids around on school days off in my PJ’s, but connections are being made, business is growing, laundry is getting done and I… Read more »
sushi
5 years 8 months ago

The primary issue I had with Penelope’s article was the generalization. Her own experiences, though they are valid, are not indicative of the experiences of all women and shouldn’t be a substitute for research. Not all women want or are able to have children. For some women, children may be a primary reason; for others–many others–children or lack thereof aren’t a reason at all.

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@Sushi I learned, after I defended Penelope, about her horrifying and insulting tweet about her miscarriage. I wish I’d known that before today – I think my perception of her article would have been different.

JoyFull_deb
JoyFull_deb
5 years 8 months ago
Gini…I enjoyed your post because it speaks to YOUR choices and beliefs about women & careers. This conversation has been around a long time. I’m of a different generation than most here (I think). At 59 years young, I was married, had a miscarriage, and then, focused my energies on climbing a corporate ladder. That ladder broke for various reasons. I applaud women who can “do it all.” I will never know that experience. What I do know for sure, is this. At my age, I now wish that I would have pursued both. More than likely, I’d have grandchildren… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@JoyFull_deb I am humbled by what you’ve shared here. Thank you. I’ll look for that other post soon! 🙂

hackmanj
5 years 8 months ago

Great, thought provoking post. I can say as a father and an entrepreneur when it comes down to sacrifice it is my work not my family that suffers. I will take business trips (occasionally) and burn the midnight oil sure, but when my son has a important appointment or event I need to be there 100% of the time. I cannot and will not compromise that. It’s about making tough decisions and sometimes sacrificing.

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@hackmanj I completely agree that a lot of us go into business for ourselves in order to have the flexibility you enjoy. And it’s difficult for me to say that I wouldn’t be able to handle 80+ hour work weeks with little kids around – I’d likely just find different hours to work, though clocking the same amount. I do know it scares the crap out of me to be building something that is going to need venture funding and I wonder what that does to my ability to have kids now.

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rachael Seda, Nate Brown. Nate Brown said: Now read the post by @ginidietrich on @spinsucks http://ow.ly/2SjNr – what do you think? […]

leyla
leyla
5 years 8 months ago

I agree 100%. I think having children is important and I think children deserve to be raised by their parents and not random strangers. It doesn’t matter to me if that parent is a husband or a wife but I cannot see how it is fair for both parents to work 60+ hours a week with a rigorous travel schedule and raise children at the same time.

It just would never be my choice.

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@leyla And it’s not fair to the kids to be raised by someone else. Why? So the parents can say they have kids AND run businesses? Baloney.

cloudspark
cloudspark
5 years 8 months ago
Gini – We all got sold a bunch of hooey by early feminists who declared we could “have it all!” They lied – you might think you can have it all, but you can’t – at least not at the same time. While I see your point and agree that the primary caretaker/family manager is women, it does not in fact have to be a hinderance to creating a successful start up. It just means you’ll sleep a whole lot less – a lot less. I’ve created and manage a growing microagency. I’m also a mom to a 3-year-old and… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@cloudspark First, I love that you said hooey! LOL! Secondly, my point is that no one knows Miriam Rivera. Sure she helped Google go public, but NO ONE talks about her. Maybe that’s another blog post for another time.

AshlynBrewer
AshlynBrewer
5 years 8 months ago
As we’ve said again and again personal experience isn’t fact, but as the child of a mother who ran and partially owned a businesses (not a startup, but the point holds) as I was growing up, I think I greatly benefited from having that successful, businesswoman model. No woman should feel obligated to have children if she doesn’t want them, but no woman who wants them should feel she won’t be a good mother if she is also an entrepreneur. Kids need love/attention, obviously, but a good role model goes a long way too. Historically speaking, there was a time… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@AshlynBrewer Great point about history! I hope there will be some of us the blaze a new trail for mothers…becoming the next Oprah WITH kids!

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago
Before I go in and comment to each of you (I’m going to wait for everyone to have the ability to say their peace), I want to point out two things: A “start-up” by the definition of the term is a venture or angel invested company and there are very few women entrepreneurs who make the billionaire list. There are PLENTY of successful women who raise fabulous kids. But the sacrifice they’ve given up is they work at home or don’t have employees or don’t build the next Facebook, Google, or Microsoft. If we ever have kids, I will certainly… Read more »
sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich I see your point Gini & @lindsayanng above. I also believe we fall under the definition found on wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Startup_company, wherein we are a true tech firm 100% funded by the founders. So I have to work hard to answer to me & my partner who happens to be my husband, as well as our kids, who count on us making this work to feed & provide for them.

JMattHicks
5 years 8 months ago
That’s a very tough issue to tackle. I don’t have any children, so I cannot and will not try to speak with any authority, but I cannot imagine having kids now as an INTERN, much less as a start-up CEO!!! I’d love to have kids one day, but I do think if you’re going to launch a start-up, it may be easier AFTER the fact, when you have other people managing your business for you. Or, after you’ve sold it and moved to your own private island off the coast of New England. 😉 Good luck with all endeavors, Ginni.… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@JMattHicks You work for a start-up. Talk to us about the hours you guys work building Livefyre and if your colleagues have a life outside of work…

JMattHicks
5 years 8 months ago
@ginidietrich I’ve got it VERY EASY compared to the rest of the Livefyre gang. As an intern scheduled for 10-15 hours a week, I only work in-office Tuesday and Thursday usually from about 9 – 5 or 6, so roughly 8-10 hours a day. So I put in about 18-20 hours a week in-office. But I also work from home because as we all know, social media doesn’t sleep. And that keeps me tuned in essentially 24/7 about 5 or 6 days of the week. So it’s hard to say how much time I put in, likely about 30-40 hours… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@JMattHicks I’d be willing to bet they work more like 90-100 hours. 🙂

JMattHicks
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich @JMattHicks lol I’m pretty embarrassed. I was thinking there were only 5 days in a week. Yeah, you’re right, it’s definitely more like 80/90+ hours a week!

JennaLanger
5 years 8 months ago

@JMattHicks @ginidietrich What’s a life? 😉 Luckily I’m still kind of fresh out of college and don’t have too many other responsibilities so I can devote a lot of time to work. It also helps that my team is awesome and we enjoy each other’s company. I couldn’t imagine putting in long hours at a job I didn’t like. Could I raise a child with this schedule? Not a chance. (I’ll save that for a comment above)

JMattHicks
5 years 8 months ago

@jennalanger @ginidietrich Jenna is a beast in the office no doubt. Oh, and btw, the way, I am definitely the 100th post on this thread. I need to be in the @ginidietrich Hall of Fame or something. Can we get a trophy or a plaque of some sort out this way Gini?

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@JMattHicks @jennalanger @ginidietrich A trophy or a plaque. Let me see what I can do!

balemar
balemar
5 years 8 months ago
Gini – Thought provoking posts like these remind me why I love reading Spin Sucks! It’s true – I love my mother dearly, but I watched her chose between having a career and raising 3 very spread out girls. It’s hard to find upper level executives that are both successful and have children. It’s just too hard to find time to do both. Most people can not juggle the responsibilities of motherhood and entrepreneurship (and for the people that can – YOU rock and inspire me with your uber hard work!) I recently started my own company, and it’s a… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@balemar I would just like to say you’ve jinxed yourself. You’d better knock on wood or that far, far, far future it’s likely going to be only far.

balemar
balemar
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Ah! Don’t say that! I’ll be knocking on wood for years now! No time for kids at the moment – way too young anyways…

lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 8 months ago
@balemar I dont mean to preach, but I am in the same boat as you.. There is NO WAY I could have kids (not that I really want them) and if i did get pregnant it would definitely be a massive disaster in my life right now. Anyways, they say nothing is 100% which really freaked me out and I got to doing some research. I have had my IUD for 6 months now and am SOO happy. I know that I will not want kids for 5 years, but if (for some odd reason) i decide i want them… Read more »
delwilliams
delwilliams
5 years 8 months ago

Enjoyed your post Gini. My issue with Penelope Trunk is twofold. One, the broad brush she uses to pretty much insult people. Secondly, sorry, can’t get over her tweeting:”I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.” http://twitter.com/#!/penelopetrunk/status/4147262767 So the attitude now seems to be a little, I don’t know, bull crappy.

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@delwilliams I’m so mad I never heard about that tweet before today! I don’t know if I’d have read her article the same way, but it certainly changes my perception of her!

lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich @delwilliams I wouldn’t change your perception until you read her entire blog post about her tweet.

KellyeCrane
KellyeCrane
5 years 8 months ago
Terrific discussion! A couple years ago I read an article re: a study of women who’d reached the highest levels of business (wish I had the link at my fingertips to share). What they found was that these women tended to have a significant other who filled the traditional, old-school “wife” role. Basically, for one partner to be in the C-suite of a Fortune 1000 company, the other person in the relationship needs to give up their own big career aspirations to help them get there – regardless of their sex. I think that’s a key distinction, because — as… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@KellyeCrane We’re going to change that perception as Mr. D. also is an entrepreneur. 🙂

PatrickReyes
PatrickReyes
5 years 8 months ago
Gini – another popular post to generate some conversation! Love it! Last week I attended Catalyst 2010 in Atlanta. The topic of the 2 days was that tension is a good thing. In this post, you’re talking about the tension between owning and starting a business versus children. What you or anyone else will need to decide is what matters most to you at this point and time in your life. I guess I’ll challenge you a little bit and say that you can have both…run a start up and be a parent…just not at the same time. It becomes… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@patrickreyes I don’t think that’s a challenge at all! I totally agree you can have both, just not at the same time.

lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 8 months ago
I have just realized the point that everyone seems to be missing. The post isn’t about owning a small business and raising children. Lots of people can do that. She is talking about running and owning a successful startup company that has investors and a solid plan/future ahead. In that case, she is right – you can not do both at the same time. If you are the owner of a company funded by an angel investor or venture capitalist, then you absolutely must spent a good portion of your time making that idea work. Those investors end up being… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@lindsayanng Thank. You.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 8 months ago
@lindsayanng I get that point, and I guess thats where our business differs. We didnt have a investor…we killed ourselves to boost up enough cash to cut the cord from a full-time job to doing this full-time. We have to eat, sleep and breath it, because it is how we feed our kids, and provide for them. We man the kids together, just like we man the business. We don’t have investors to answer to, we have to answer to ourselves, and our kids. But, I do both, I have little to no time for myself…but do both. I think… Read more »
KellyeCrane
KellyeCrane
5 years 8 months ago

@lindsayanng This is the point I was trying to make: someone has to have the mom role. But it doesn’t have to be the mom.

delwilliams
delwilliams
5 years 8 months ago
@lindsayanng ANY business has to have a good plan, investors or not. Looks to me like her problem is overhead, but also HER priories changed. This was her 3rd startup, and it seems to have been the one that did not come easily. When lights start being cut off, it’s time for a different plan. She says she got married, had 2 kids and a farm, so probably just not into it anymore. So now, it appears that she has moved from heading the company to being an employee working at home, and that may work to get the pressure… Read more »
JoyFull_deb
JoyFull_deb
5 years 8 months ago

@lindsayanng I missed the point, as well. Thanks for clarifying a BIG part of her post. :=)

lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 8 months ago
@delwilliams @sydcon_mktg my business is not investor funded and is the same or similar to what you have. My husband and I started the business with our own money and time and it is HARD.. Its a lot of hours and loads of work. However, I have worked with startups who have angel investors who are going to be the “next multinational brand” and I can tell you that the amount of work that we (as small business owners) put into getting our small businesses up and running is NOTHING compared to those who are working on an angel invested… Read more »
DiamondPTM (Staci Diamond)
5 years 8 months ago

“Women don’t want to run start-ups because they’d rather have children.” Yep, sounds like Penelope. @SpinSucks http://tinyurl.com/26e3juv

JasonVerhoosky
JasonVerhoosky
5 years 8 months ago
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!!! That said, this goes farther than just women and business. As a man, and father of two children under the age of 3, this hugely affects my life, and the ability to run my business. I love my family, LOVE being a dad, and do everything I can to spend as much time as possible being just that, a dad. But in addition to my two human children, I have my business, and my dog;) As much as clients and investors are understanding to family, there is still the bottom line, and the underlying… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@JasonVerhoosky Shame on me for encompassing only women in this post. I wrote it right after I read Penelope’s article and was reacting to that without thinking about the broader picture. #hooglymoogly

hackmanj
5 years 8 months ago

@JasonVerhoosky hoogly moogly excellent comments! I agree with your assessment of the struggle that it is to be both a provider and a dad. For me the golden ticket is focusing most on what matters most, family. Sometimes that means kicking it into high gear professionally, sometimes it means taking an afternoon off to spend watching a child play their first <insert sporting, musical, etc, even>.

Glad to be introduced to you via our mutual friend @ginidietrich thanks Gini.

Joe

GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@hackmanj @JasonVerhoosky Don’t you love hoogly moogly?! I also love that I’m having conversations with you on three different platforms.

hackmanj
5 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich @JasonVerhoosky Yes, it’s a solid private language and helps keep out the kid in me. 🙂

Three platforms, are we ADHD or master multi-taskers? Hmmm Poll?

janbeery
janbeery
5 years 8 months ago
Gini, For everyone it’s such a personal decision. There is never a perfect answer! For me, I did it all while raising 3 kids and occasionally mumbling, “one little pill, one little pill!” All I can tell you is I didn’t know whether to use the toilet or wind my watch half the time! We were very organized, charts, goals, paycheck rewards (aka allowance) and yes, I often was racing from the airport to make it to football, band competition, gymnastic meets etc. I look back and think how crazy it was that I even survived. I was an avid… Read more »
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@janbeery I freaking love your stories! LOL!! I’ll bet your sons really love that you put them out here. HAHAHA!

JenniferEitzen (Jennifer Eitzen)

Would be interested to hear what @omahamoms thinks of this http://bit.ly/aXrgGV?

Greg
Greg
5 years 8 months ago
A few things – Gini you said: “I want to point out two things: A “start-up” by the definition of the term is a venture or angel invested company and there are very few women entrepreneurs who make the billionaire list.” This is not necessarily true, there is a thing called boot strap. Myself and hundreds of other entrepreneurs have taken this route to build successful companies – primary point cast as your main goal: we need work, not money. And, although there may not be many ‘billionaire’ women, there are many, many female multi-millionaires.. I have several as clients… Read more »
ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
5 years 8 months ago
I’m reading this post at 10:50 pm EST, with work still to be done – and my 10 y/o is in bed. Why you ask? I’m a working mom. KellyeCrane & Cloudspark said it best – you need a support system (ie sympathetic husband) and whoever said you could have it all…was only partially right – there’s no way you can fire on all pistons without something having to give. We make our own choices. At at a time when I should be coasting in my previous job at a non-profit (for 17 yrs)…I chose to take on a 5… Read more »
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[…] you haven’t yet had a chance to weigh in on yesterday’s conversation about women, start-ups, and children, I invite you to do so. And men? You weigh in, too. Because there is a follow-up post (or maybe […]

Vee
Vee
5 years 8 months ago
Well first, there wouldn’t be so many great men without the great women who support them. This doesn’t always apply, but for the successful men who have wives or long time girlfriends, my hats are off to them as they have experienced a life time of stress as well. On to the topic matter however, I think this is changing. There are more men than ever who stay home with their kids or take on equal responsibility with their partner. I can count on my spouse to come home from his day job and round up two active boys so… Read more »
barryrsilver
barryrsilver
5 years 8 months ago
“Having it all” is in the mind of the beholder. If you’re running a start-up but want to also be a parent, go for it. Want to run a start-up as a parent, find another passion (in addition to your kid(s))and start a biz. That easy? Hardly. Make your choices and live with the consequences (ramifications?) of those decisions. The definition of having it all is no one’s definition but yours. BTW, Next time someone asks why you don’t have children, try this: “My husband and I decided not to bring children into a world full of nosy morons.”
GiniDietrich
GiniDietrich
5 years 8 months ago

@barryrsilver HAHAHAHAHA!!! I love you!

trackback

[…] entrepreneur clearly stating her opinion (though it sure sounded like fact, didn’t it?) that if you have children, you can’t run a startup. Insert “punch to the gut” feeling here. I mean, the author is clearly a successful […]

thewhalehunters
thewhalehunters
5 years 8 months ago
I always thought you CAN have it all but you can’t necessarily have it all at once. I had my kids early–two children by the time I was 25, then finished a degree and started teaching–part-time until they were in school. Even if you have your child (or more) much later, you may not be “too late.” It truly didn’t take long to catch up with the guys my age–I was hungrier, wiser, and more aggressive in many ways. I didn’t get into “start-up” until much later–and I’m still in it! But now I’m at the point where no one… Read more »
JennaLanger
5 years 8 months ago
I’ve been following these stories closely because I am a young woman, I work in tech, and I’ve always rolled with the boys. I’ll have to write my own blog post to put down all my ideas, but you have it right – life isn’t fair. We all make decisions based on our own lives and careers. I am a go-getter and would love to be an exec or start my own company someday, and I think I have what it takes. At the same time I want to have kids and I love vacations -two things that are hard… Read more »
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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elisabeth , Elissa Freeman. Elissa Freeman said: Does having children mean you can't run a start-up? @ginidietrich gets an avalanche of comments http://bit.ly/9T7bYI via @SpinSucks […]

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[…] of my favorite bloggers, thinkers, and general trouble makers Gini Dietrich wrote a post entitled “Having Children Means You Can’t Run a Start-Up”. This post got me thinking on many levels, and struck a few cords with me.  The reason I bring this […]

EricaAllison
5 years 5 months ago
Since I’m catching up the Top 10 Spin Sucks for the year, I’m a bit late for this one, but oh how I love it. It’s near and dear to my heart in that I have 2 children and a ‘start up’ – a small business of me! When I started my business 3 years ago, I had too many services (pr and marketing, due diligence for real estate & development, and market analysis), had lots of clients and had 1 child. The good times were rolling! Fast forward two years and I became pregnant with baby #2 -oops and… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 5 months ago
@EricaAllison Erica, when I wrote the post, I did so for two reasons: I’m tired of people asking me why I don’t have kids (none of your stinking business) and, at the time, I thought we were going to have to get funding for Project Jack Bauer (turns out we’ve self-funded) and one of the questions prospective investors asked me was, “When are you planning to start a family.” It was then that I realized a venture-funded start-up and a family don’t go hand-in-hand…unless your kids are older. Now I realize I should have written it more succinctly because it… Read more »
janbeery
janbeery
5 years 5 months ago
You know what? I know we talked about this before and the bottom line is this…. If you want to have children when and how, it’s a personal decision and there isn’t a right or wrong answer. If I could do it over would I have waited, probably but the reality is, you do what’s best for you and your family. It all works out and there is always a way to accommodate what it is you’re comfortable with. We do the best we know how to do. When we learn differently we change it or just move forward…. Personal… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 5 months ago

@janbeery Totally agree! And now you guys are screwing up my blog post from yesterday because there are more comments.

cnsmiles
cnsmiles
5 years 5 months ago
You’re looking to spend $20,000 on a child each year. That’s basic luxaries for a child. Like food,day care, and baby sitting services. That’s not Pre-Harvard day care or weekly massages for the brat……that’s basic expenses. You’re essentially de-investing $20,000 from a startup. That’s a lot of money that could go to building a future that could essentially provide the best environment for a child. Like the best education, best neighborhoods,best whatever that comes with being succesful. Jobs,Gates,and the guys at google all waited till they were financially liberated and assured retirement before they even thought about getting into a… Read more »
lindsayanng
lindsayanng
5 years 5 months ago
@cnsmiles Wow.. i could tell you were a guy from the first few sentances of your comment.Here’s the thing – you can’t count on being financially liberated ever. Just look at the people who had plenty of money to spend on a child and lost it all in the stock market. Having a kid is NOT a financial decision – it’s an emotional, family decision.Ever see the movie Idiocracy?? it basically started by showing two couples – one upper class and one “white trash”. They showed how the upper class was waiting until they were financially stable to have kids… Read more »
cnsmiles
cnsmiles
5 years 5 months ago
@lindsayanng Wow… I can tell from your first few sentences you must be on welfare. I have never heard of free day care services, free diapers, free baby food, free baby sitting services, free accessories for that dedicated room for that baby. Sure there is an emotional need that comes with wanting a child, but if you fail to acknowledge the required expenditures you will find yourself and your baby in deep trouble. I’m not one to take those kind of risks If I don’t have the necessary reserves or sufficient income to afford the additional expense on top of… Read more »
JonHearty
5 years 5 months ago

The biggest cost in any business is opportunity cost. You can’t have everything, so it’s good to constantly reflect on the choices you’re making to ensure you’re not getting just doing what you’ve been doing as a result of momentum. I’m glad to hear you do this and I can only assume it helps you appreciate even more your ability to ride and work the way you do. Good luck with Project Jack Bauer!

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