It is all about the exit strategy

I posted this on Medium this week.  Thought I’d share.

IMG_2758Over the past few years, I have given this advice to founders who are in their late 20’s and early 30’s:

If you have been in a serious relationship for a long time, or are married, think about having kids now.

Then I drive home the message by saying, “Having children is not about the start-up phase. It is about the exit strategy. You do not want to be 75 when your kids go off to college.” Generally, the lightbulb turns on.

Fast-forward a few years, and more than a few of them have taken my advice. Then I have female founders come to me and say, “I have something I need to tell you.” There is a pause before the announcement that they are pregnant. My answer is always full of excitement. The next thing I say is,“When you tell the rest of your investors, I do not want you to apologize, and I do not want you to come up with a list of how you are going to manage it. I just want you to state the facts and move on with the conversation. Women have children; men can’t. You are the founder of this company, and you will figure it out, just like you figure everything else out.

I wanted to have our first kid by the time I was 30. I guess I thought that 30 was the right milestone. My husband and I had been together since college, we were married at 25, and it just seemed like the right time in our careers. We were ready for the next phase of our lives.

The reality is, there is never a perfect time to have children.Women wonder if they should be farther along in their careers, or perhaps that they won’t get any farther in their careers if they have kids too early. Yet the longer you wait, the harder it is to have kids.