Starting a family business when you already have a family. What am I talking about you may ask? I am talking about taking a risk and deciding to start your own business when you already have kids.


Last summer my husband and I took that risk and began plans to open up our dream business: a comedy club. At first it didn’t really hit me. It was something we had to do.  Over time, the stress got to me and I doubted our decision and wished I had waited to have a child until my husband and I had stable careers.  But now one week before our clubs opening, I can honestly say we made the right choice for our family.


If you are thinking of opening up your own business here are some of the dilemmas you may face and some advice on how to get through them.



At first it may be fun and romantic for both parents to be out of work and at home all the time. Eventually cabin fever sets in and rears it’s ugly head in the form of back-seat parenting and confusing arguments. Try to give each other as much space as possible and do your best to enjoy all the time you have together now because once your business starts up you won’t get to spend much time together.


Hiding emotions

One of my biggest struggles as a mom was dealing with my emotions in front of my daughter. I tried my best not to cry in front of her but on some days I just couldn’t stop the tears. There were also a couple of times I found out bad news while on a play date or at the park with my daughter and couldn’t hide my disappointment. I used this as an opportunity to talk to my daughter about feelings and how to work through them.



Guilt, not a fun feeling but I felt it on a daily basis while we were working to open up our club. I felt guilty for so many things it’s hard to list them all. Mostly I felt guilty that our daughter had to watch her parents go through the stress of opening up a business. But who knows? Maybe this process will help her if she ever wants to open her own business.


Bring daughter to work

To save money we stopped using a babysitter and if I had a meeting I brought my daughter along. Sometimes this was cute and fun other times she acted well… like a 3 year old. The temper tantrums usually happened when she felt excluded so I started giving her small tasks like organizing tickets or making art for our office. These seemingly small activities kept our daughter occupied and made her feel like a big girl.



Kids and new businesses have one very similar characteristic; they both have a tendency to drain bank accounts. Remind your self that many of the best family activities, like cuddling on a Saturdaymorning or long walks, don’t cost a dime.



No break from work

Being a parent and an entrepreneur are both exhausting jobs with no breaks. Your child could wake up at 2am and refuse to go to bed and when you own a business there is always more work to be done. I have no solutions to this except that it could be worse. You could be working all day on something you don’t like very much. At least when you are a parent entrepreneur you are always dealing with something you love.



Everyday, we are faced with new struggles and usually I am able to find solutions but sometimes I’m not. There’s a lot I still don’t know about both parenting and opening up a business but luckily I know how it ends. When I was six years old,  my father quit his job and opened up his own business. I remember knowing there was stress in my family but not really understanding why.  My sister and I spent many afternoons at home organizing samples for potential customers. We loved helping our dad and I can still remember the amazing sense of pride I felt when my dad showed us his desk at his new office.


Over the weekend what happened to me as a child happened to my daughter. I took her around to local business to introduce myself and give them complimentary tickets.  My daughter loved handing the tickets out and got mad if I did it for her. Listening to her talk to complete strangers about her parent’s comedy club made me so happy that it made all of the uncertainty worth it.


The author’s daughter “at work” with mom


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Shannon Sutherland

Kidville Member

Shannon Sutherland


Shannon Sutherland lives in New York City with her husband, daughter, and dog. On nights where everyone goes to bed at a reasonable hour she works on her blog, writes for the Huffington Post, and now Voices from the Ville!  On nights where her daughter refuses to go to bed Shannon uses the improvisation skills she learned at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to have dinosaur tea parties.