4 ways running a business is like raising kids

Running a business is expensive, time-consuming, complicated... and incredibly rewarding. Just like raising kids. 

Running a business is expensive, time-consuming, complicated... and incredibly rewarding. Just like raising kids. 

As the old adage suggests, your business is your baby. There’s a lot of truth to that analogy! Here are a few ways running a business is a lot like raising kids.

1. Both require constant attention

If you have children, you know they require full-time attention: morning, mid-day, evening, and even midnight, you’re always on call. At every phase, kids need your attention at every part of the day and night, whether it’s calming a crying baby at 2 a.m. or helping a frustrated fourth-grader with long-division homework after the dinner dishes are done.

Running a business is an always-on job, as well. It’s your problem, not someone else’s, if the security alarm goes off at 4 a.m. and needs to be checked. Business owners also work about twice as much as employees, according to a survey by the New York Enterprise Report. And for all the freedoms afforded by working for yourself, you’re also tethered to the business — one-third of business owners work at least half of all major holidays!

2. Both get more complicated over time

Taking care of a newborn baby comes with plenty of challenges, but those challenges are usually pretty straightforward: change diapers, make a bottle, rinse and repeat. As that little one gets older, you as the parent graduate to new and increasingly complex challenges, like teaching them how to deal with bullies or — there it is again! — learn long division.

The same is true for running a growing business. In the early days, the biggest challenges center on getting traction and making consistent revenue. Over time, as the business gets larger and more complex, you layer on new challenges of managing employees, heading off legal liabilities, and operating efficiently at larger scale.

In parenting and entrepreneurship, be sure to take time to enjoy every phase. You’ll miss it when it’s gone!

3. Both can be expensive

Want to start a business? You’ll probably need $30,000. That’s the average startup cost for a U.S. company, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Once you’re up and running, you’ll need to account for a whole host of routine operating expenses, as well. With so many bills to pay, it’s no wonder small businesses care so much about revenue.

At least your business provides a return on your investment. Unless one of your kids strikes it rich and decides to take care of you financially, you’ll likely only have pride and joy to show for your considerable investments of time and money in raising your children.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that raising a child costs between $12,000 and $14,000 per year, for a grand total of $233,610 to raise a son or daughter through the age of 17. Raising a family, like running a business, takes some serious commitment and sacrifice!

4. Both come with sweet tax breaks!

While expensive, running a business and raising a family both come with certain tax benefits. If you own and operate a small business, you might be leaving a bunch of money on the table if you’re not taking advantage of tax benefits related to, say, having a home office, paying for business insurance, or paying Social Security. Take a look at Bankrate’s list of oft-overlooked tax breaks for small business owners.

Having kids also comes with certain reasons to smile around tax time. Adding kids to the mix also adds dependents to your household, and each dependent comes with a $4,050 exemption. Depending on your income level, you may also be able to claim a “child tax credit” of $1,000 per kiddo. Learn more from Nolo.

Of course, all this tax talk is subject to change if tax reform gets done. We laid out some ways the proposed tax bill would impact small business owners in a previous post.

Your business is your baby, and so is… well, your baby, if you’re a parent. Both require and deserve lots of attention, but both are worth it. Keep up the great work!