BizTrainHer- Should You Start a Business or Get A Job?: by Shelagh Cummins

Working Mom

I think it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. It physically hurt my heart, my head and my body. I felt like I was giving away my baby. I felt like I was being ripped off, and I was resentful. That is how I felt returning to work when my baby was 10 months old.

But I did it, secretly knowing I was already pregnant with our second – and knowing that it was not a forever part of my life. I counted down the days until I could be home again.

In fact, those very same feelings are what push so many moms to figure out ways to earn money while staying home with their babies. It never ceases to amaze me how creative women are – they develop their own businesses based on their skills, their knowledge base or a great idea. The reality is, that not all these women should be starting a business. They should actually get a job.

The thing is, the worst time to start a business is when you need the money. It’s counterintuitive, I know. We start business because we want the freedom, flexibility and financial benefits of working for ourselves. However, rarely does a business make substantial money within the first three years.

I think about MomBizRetreat – we have made money in our first year – but every penny has gone back into the business; growing it, building our team, investing in education, hosting the actual events… so in terms of income for me, it is a labor of love. Imagine if I was counting on that income to put a roof over our heads? Imagine if I desperately needed that income to feed my children?

I don’t rely on that income – I am doing other work to meet our financial needs. I know that the business is too young to earn us money. SO – until it does, in order to meet my financial priorities and needs, I will continue to take contracts and do other work.

So how do you know if you should start a business or get a job?

Do The Math.

What do you NEED to live on? That’s right – number crunch. Figure out what your monthly expenses are vs. the amount of money that your family is earning. Once you know that number – essentially your decision is made. If your family income is less than what you need, please, don’t start a business and assume it will immediately beginning paying you a return. Get a job, and start your business on the side.

Businesses take time to build properly. I say it all the time…*the three things you will need to invest to start your business is time, energy and money. You are going to spend before you earn. Period. There are exceptions to the rule – you will always find some – but don’t let those exceptions give you the right to put your family in financial jeopardy.

The reality is, when your business is in the start-up phase, you will always make more money working for someone else. If your family needs more income to sustain itself or if you have existing consumer debt… please, get a job and build your business on the side.

Shelagh CumminsShelagh Cummins is the mum of 3 fab kiddos and wife of an amazing entrepreneur. She is the Principal at, a boutique firm specializing in training and content strategy for women in business. She is also the co-founder and co- facilitator of – a business intensive weekend getaway for mom entrepreneurs. Leave the weekend pampered with a completed business plan, marketing strategy, time map, elevator pitch, product funnel and crystal clear focus for your business. She is also the founder, editor and Mum-in-chief at – an online community parenting resource & blog.

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I founded Mums 'n Chums in 2009 after realizing that the area I live in was drastically underserviced as compared to surrounding areas for support and activities for growing families. Mums 'n Chums grew popular very quickly and I have been dedicated to nurturing that growth through frequent networking, social media engagement and in person meetups. By the end of its first year, Mums 'n Chums had close to 500 members and was receiving regular inquiries from fans outside of its service area, asking when we would be expanding to serve them as well. After much careful research and polling, I expanded the site in May of 2011 to cover the entire North end of the GTA (from Cambridge to Markham), areas I believe are still receiving far less attention than they deserve from other sites and family services. We also changed the focus from small scale local mom and tot meetups to more of an informative purpose, closing down our forum and adding several talented contributors to the blog. We do still offer several large scale family events per year, such as our popular Birthday Bash events and our Holiday Bash in December. Our contests have also become a member favourite, and we strive to offer amazing prizes from trusted brands like Babies R Us, La Roche Posay, Johnson's Baby and many more. In March of 2016, after months of work spent migrating all of the site's content to a new platform, Mums 'n Chums re-launched with its fresh, new look. The changes and expansion have proven a great success and we're still getting inquiries from several other cities within the Greater Toronto Area, whom we have decided to serve as well. I have built this site and its' reputation carefully and look forward to continuing its growth!

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