Balancing entrepreneurship and parenthood

- When Wendy Xiao had her son Tyler she was about to start an MBA program at Columbia University and had dreams of starting her own business. But with the new addition in her life, she says she couldn't imagine going back to a traditional workplace setting like the consulting firm she used to work for.

"I had no idea how I was going to do it but I knew for sure that I wanted both," Xiao said. "There was no way I was giving up one or the other."

The quest to balance parenthood and entrepreneurship got her thinking and helped her find a business partner in fellow MBA student Susann Friedrich.

"I used to work in consulting which is a very male-heavy environment and I saw many women just step out of the work, just leave the company because they couldn't manage to keep up with that type of work and have a child," Friedrich said. "I always felt like that shouldn't be the case."

Friedrich and Xiao decided to launch CoHatchery, a co-working space with integrated childcare. They've already started pop-ups, bringing childcare professionals to workspaces and apartment buildings, while they search for their permanent location.

"We want to create a physical place where parents can actually have both in one place but at the same time have the structure of having it separate as well," Friedrich said.

"They have the benefits of co-location -- no drop-off, no pick-up in different places, they can also breastfeed if their babies are very young," Xiao said.

Already the women say they've had hundreds of inquiries from people ready to sign up, which is no surprise considering some of the statistics.

"Almost 60 percent of women said that life-work balance was an issue for them when they were starting their company," said Rachel Van Tosh, the acting deputy commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. Last year the department launched WE NYC for women entrepreneurs, which helps women get their businesses off the ground and deal with challenges like family-work balance. But Van Tosh said that despite those challenges, entrepreneurship also offers a major benefit for parents.

"When they are their own bosses, women are more able to carve out time to spend with their children and their family and take care of those dependents in their lives," Van Tosh said.

When it comes to balancing parenthood with business often it helps to talk to someone who has been through it. The city's small business services WE NYC initiative does offer a mentoring program that can help connect working parents.

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