The Hidden Costs of Start-ups: Mom Edition

Share with us @tryverima or comment below the hidden costs you have encountered

A couple of weeks ago, I finished filing my 2020 taxes for both my personal return as well as for Verima. As I carefully typed in each expense and deduction, my brain kept going to all the hidden costs that weren’t making it onto my worksheet.  The expenses both monetary and more abstract that I have paid in 2020.  The expenses that are unique to moms who are entrepreneurs.  I decided to share them here, so we could start a discussion on how we can do better.  


When the start-up is not your own and one is collecting a paycheck for a specific scope of work, the math is easier. A typical workday (between 8-12 hours) yields either an hourly rate, or a percentage of salary, and at the end of the day (one hopes) once expenses for childcare have been paid, there is money left over at the end of the day.  But, when it’s is your own start-up, you have yet to collect a pay-check and the scope of work involves. . . . well, everything,  then how is it possible to calculate what one pays for in childcare?  I do not have a nanny, or a babysitter, or any extended family nearby.  And in this crazy year of pandemic home-school and 4x’s/day hybrid school drop-off/pick-ups, I really could have used one.  But, I struggled with how to justify the cost of paying for help when I have yet to bring in my own paycheck.

However, all moms know, our days are easily fully consumed with getting meals on the table, kids to and from school, laundry, dishes, and school work done.  And this is the case even when kids are in school full-time!  And yet, if I don’t make the time to invest and attend to my business, it goes without saying that my business will never take off or be successful.  So my question is, where is the line for “childcare” as a business deduction for start-ups or entrepreneurs? I am aware of the child care tax credit, and this is great for working moms, but again, it requires “earned income” which means, as an entrepreneur/founder, I do not qualify.  Additionally, I love that there is a growing list of organizations that award grants for female entrepreneurs.  But you know what else we need besides extra dollars for marketing?  Extra dollars to off-set the cost of childcare. 

Chores and Housekeeping

My husband constantly reminds me that time is money, and that an hour of my time spent on Verima is worth far more than an hour spent on scrubbing toilets. . . except, someone still has to scrub the toilets.  I’m not talking *Martha Stewart clean*, fussing about specks of dust, or *improperly* folded laundry.  Oh no, I let that go a long time ago after the birth of my second child.  I’m talking, we need clean plates to eat off of and let’s make sure our bathrooms are not petri dishes of disease.  There is no guarantee that an hour of my time will bring in $x in revenue.  This is especially true in the beginning stages when founders pour in thousands of hours of labor before seeing a cent.  So, what formula do I use to determine exactly how much an hour of my time is really worth? And at what point do I say I can *afford* to outsource the cleaning and chores? 


I think we can agree that time is the scarcest and most precious of all resources.  And as moms, we are all too aware of how quickly it passes when it comes to our growing children.  So let’s be real when we discuss the sacrifice of time a mother must make when choosing the life of an entrepreneur.  Similar to a new baby, a new company requires around-the-clock care, and “business hours” are not always adhered to as little fires need extinguishing evenings and weekends as well.   I try to always let my children know they are my top priority, and thus far I believe I have succeeded.  (All moms are very familiar with the “mom guilt” that creeps in regardless of how much we are doing for and with our children.  I can assure you, even when I was at home full-time, and room parent, and on the executive board of the PTA, I STILL wondered if I was doing enough). But boy does it sting when my calls run into the nights and I have to ask my 10-year old to read books and tuck her 6-year old brother into bed. 


Additionally, I am a strong believer in being able to unplug and step away.  But truth be told, these days, I find it nearly impossible.  My three children are on spring break this week and it’s the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with them.  So I made a reservation at the San Francisco Zoo and took the morning off to take them.  We arrived and almost immediately my phone messages starting pinging.  My daughter literally took my face in her hands, turned it towards her, and told me she was confiscating my phone.  I mumbled some excuse about having to work and she firmly replied, “Not for the next two hours you don’t! “

I acknowledge that I require baby steps. . . and perhaps some intervention.  I promise, for the next two hours, the only reason the phone made an appearance was to snap pics and videos of the kids and animals.  But as I walked along, it also struck me that I don’t know when in the foreseeable future I will be able to take an actual vacation (as in multiple days) and unplug for the duration.  And quite frankly the idea of that saddens me.  I hope that day is in the near future and I will report back when I learn how to do it! 


I won’t make a separate heading here, but for the record, we can throw nutritious meals out the door many nights too, because upon returning from the zoo, I ordered pizza for dinner and holed myself in my room for a 1.5 hour business call followed by another couple hours to finish working on this blog.  The only saving grace?  I love what I am trying to do with Verima.  I love talking to women, moms, customers and learning about them and what wellness means to them. I love hearing what works for them and exchanging ideas.  And I love being able to help moms get one step closer to feeling their best selves. 

So, to all the moms out there, if you are contemplating your next business, it is imperative that it be in a field you are passionate about because the hidden costs are very real.  But if you are able to find that center of your Venn diagram where what you love, what you’re good at and what people will pay for, then it’s full steam ahead because your children will grow up seeing you model passion, grit, ambition and mad multi-tasking skills.  And hopefully, those will be enough to cover for all those hidden costs.