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I am 31 yo and wanting to become an entrepreneur, but there is the matter of the biological clock...

I am a 31 yo married woman based in India. I've been working in tech for about a decade and have a, I daresay, successful career behind me. I make a handsome salary which is presently more than what my husband makes (he works in nonprofit), my husband is my friend and lover and my most supportive best friend, and together we are trying to figure out and design the life we want. We've dated long-distance for 4 years but got married 5 months back.

On the work side: I've been feeling extremely dissatisfied. I feel under utilised and bogged down by the unnecessary corporate shenanigans. I've worked in FAANG and currently work remotely for a silicon valley company which I joined thinking I'll do the startup hustle but it turned out to be even more corporate and slowmoving than the big ones. My complaint isn't about work life balance, in fact I feel I have too much of it. My complaint is that they don't know how to utilise talent and my career is suffering for it. This has been the least productive job of my life, and it's made me reconsider what I want. I've been looking at the job market and honestly? nothing excites me. One, I hate how I am pitched lower roles than my male peers even though I bring much stronger credentials. Two, where leveling isn't a problem, I don't like the industry or product or team. My location (India) is also a hindrance.

I've come to realise I may have too many opinions of my own to find fulfiment in most jobs. Incidentally, last week, I applied to a 3 month startup accelerator cohort based in UK and in an extraordinarily paced up process, got in. I've to decide within a few days as the cohort starts in 3 weeks and I've got the visa process ahead of me. The grant they give will cover most of my costs though I'll have no salary and will need to live frugally, which I am fine with. At the end of 3 months, if I have something good, they might invest in my company. Even if they don't, I am not worried because I have a network and a profile that'll open doors, I feel.

The other side to the story: I also do want a kid, I do want to live with my husband, and I do want stability. But I can't be in a dead job that isn't making me grow for the sake of all of that. And I also can't accept anything lower than what I feel I deserve. My parents are not being too supportive, as they feel I can't "keep working forever" and should "focus on having a family". I get it, coz it's not like I don't want a kid. I am not thinking of this cohort as a 3 month thing, but a 6 month to 1 year one where I commit to being an entrepreneur and coming back to the "job life" if that fails. Which, I suppose, will put my family plans on hold until I turn 32-33. I dread how hard it may be to have kids post that, or not being able to have a kid at all.

Has anyone here been in a similar situation? I'd love to know.

To add: I applied for the cohort in UK because London feels like an ideal destination for both of us individually as well as for the kind of company I want to build as well as for the life and culture we want together. I didn't expect to get in but I did dream: what if I could build a company from UK where we also build a beautiful life together with the perfect balance? I guess I dream.
rachelserwetz's profile thumbnail
Hi @Margorie52, This is really exciting -- As much as there are a lot of important, valid questions here to balance career & family/life, these are really exciting opportunities & goals. As there's a lot to unpack, if you want to discuss it further let me know. I'm a Career Coach and I'd be happy to use our time in an open-ended fashion to help you think outloud and work through all this, to both have a copilot & hear some guidance but mainly to have a space to sort through what YOU want! If you'd like to connect -- my profile has information on where to get in touch with me.
As rough as this may sound: I say prioritize having a child. Think about how old you will be at each stage of the child's life. If you have a baby now, you will be in your 40s when the child enters their teenage years, so it gives you plenty of time to be physically healthy and chase them around. (I say this as the child of older parents, I sometimes wish they had had me earlier)
The grass is always greener. I also know people who don't have good relationships with their mothers because their mom was resentful towards her child(ren) for derailing/"ruining" her career.Happy medium: If your family in India desperately wants children, have the children and let the grandparents raise them until they are at least 5 or 6. OP and her husband can live in the U.K. and be career-focused. I'm not even making this up or exaggerating. I went to college with a woman like this where both of her parents were in medical school while she was a toddler raised by her grandparents in India, and she moved to the U.S. and met her mom and dad when she was about 6 years old (she probably met them multiple times at a younger age, but that's when she remembers meeting them). They seem to all have a good family relationship despite the strange logistics.
hummus's profile thumbnail
I'd say prioritize having a kid. You have more time down the road to become an entrepreneur, but you only have some much time to really have kids.
Feel free to take my perspective with a grain of salt, as I am personally ambivalent about having kids. If it makes sense one day, sure. If not, I won't be upset about it. My vote would be that if you feel really strongly and positively about this entrepreneurial opportunity and your gut is telling you yes - you should absolutely take it and not let it pass you by.I just started a startup and am in my 30's as well, older than you actually. It might be partly due to the fact that I'm not deadset on having kids, but I'm also really not concerned at all about not being able to have them if I decide it's right down the road. Sure, there are stats that fertility declines, but there are also stats that show it's not THAT drastic of a decline and there might be some fear-mongering around it. I'll be honest, I haven't dug deep into the research to know what's fact vs false science or media hype. There are also plenty of people I know who have had their first kids with no issue well into their 30's.To the issue about being a slightly older parent... I'm confused at why it would make a big difference. There's no rule that your health and energy will drastically drop in your 40s or beyond such that you wouldn't be able to keep up with a child. That's dependent on your own health, fitness, and lifestyle choices.Regardless of what happens with this startup I will never regret this decision to jump fully in now. It's been so freeing to move from a dead-end corporate job where I was underutilized like you (and the company had no further room to move up that it could offer me) to a model where I can finally take ownership, drive the direction, and directly reap the benefits from the value I create.I see a few comments here from people saying to prioritize having children and would love to offer an alternative perspective (while respecting that for every individual this is a deeply personal decision and no two stories or sets of goals/priorities will be exactly the same). Sure, you might have other opps to be entrepreneurial but sometimes the stars align in the right way at the right time for this particular idea at this moment, and it's a rare chance to take it.I could have waited and found another shot to start a company but would it have been at such a serendipitous time in an industry that's just starting to heat up that represents the perfect mash up of a wide subset of both my personal and professional skills/interests/passions? At a time when all the signs and internal gut check were screaming YES do this now? Nope, pushing this back for a few years would result in me missing this rare window to be on the forefront of a blooming industry in a rare period that will not last a few years and wait for me to come back in later. So in the same way some here are saying you can miss a window for having a family, sometimes there are also windows for certain ideas and industries where there are golden periods to take advantage of while they're here.
Congratulations on the cohort. I’m so happy for you and I hope you will go ahead with it, you are so eloquent and I’m thrilled that you have a supportive life partner.I’m born and raised in India and I got married when I was 32. I had my first kid and only one at 40. You got time. The biological clock can be managed if you educate yourself in fertility education/basics and mindset. We did IVF, but I feel guilty about it, because I was also working with a fertility coach. Do check out her books/website- her name is Julia Indichova.Please do not worry about biological clock. If your husband can join you in the UK and you are both open to “trying” without pressure then don’t rule it out. Once the baby is here you will find the resources to raise him/her.I say - don’t try to plan ahead rest of your multiple years all that much for the non career part. My 2 cents. For getting more clarity- feel free to learn some technique like Kriya/ Art of living. It helped me also in my own journey and continues to help ground me when I need it the most.Hope this helps.
I have been in a similar situation! When I was 28 I was in a boring job, and I had already got interesting experience in health and technology. I ended up leaving my steady job to create my own start up. It's been 2 years so far of hustling away at the start up. Me and my partner (who has a more normal job) recently got engaged, and I kind of had 32 in my head as a rough age to have a baby. I even told my cofounder this when we started working on our product.Now I'm 30, hustling away on the app, and it feels like the start up being stable enough to take maternity leave, even take a bit of paid time out to have a child would be impossible. The grass is always greener on the other side, but my reflection is that you could explore other career options without going full time into entrepreneurship. You could be freelance, you could work for a start up instead of start your own. You could keep your 9-to-5 and do something you've always wanted to do on the side. I don't think being 31 and wanting a family should hold you back from what you want to do. But at the same time when you're actually doing the entrepreneurship the idea of having a family and a stable job looks amazing.
Personally, I’m 35 and I’m so immensely glad I used my early thirties to grow my career and not have a kid. Tbh most parents seem miserable and while it’s a step I do want to take in the next couple of years, and have 2 kids between the ages of 37-42ish, that’s plenty of time to do everything.I find sometimes parents advise others to have kids to justify their own decisions and how much they gave up, not because it’s the right thing for you. You seem genuinely excited about this startup opportunity and you seem like you are happy to wait a couple of years for a kid so why give up on a real dream today and the life you want in order to start having a kid when you can very well do that later?
dz's profile thumbnail
Hey Margorie! I was in the exact same situation. I literally picked out a name and it was a toss-up between whether that would be my baby's name or my company's name, haha.The best advice I got was to wait on making this decision until after I had a baby. I thought I'd want to stay home FT, but after doing that for 4 months on maternity leave, I realized it was not for me, but I did want to stay home with my son PTNow I work as a fractional CTO and consultant, stay home with my kid part-time, and am working on my own startup slowly. My plan is to find product market fit and scale when my kid is a little older and attending school.If I had to do this again, I would not build a startup that needed a ton of funding -- I'd build a small, profitable business before having a kid. I'm working with a lot of companies like that now and I think it's much smarter than raising a ton of money and going for a moonshot idea (from a work-life balance perspective).
iammyr's profile thumbnail
it's interesting to read these posts. Many of them confirm the impression I've always had that people are sooooo naive around the "body clock".* being older will decrease your chances of ever being able to have children. True. Fact. Full stop. It doesn't matter that you live healthy, exercise, meditate, eat organic food and take plenty supplements. It-does-not-matter. IVF can help but it guarantees nothing either. It might fail and it is an immense hurdle to go through (piles of needles you need to inject in your belly by yourself, pills to take, days to wait, carefulness in eating etc and results that can be good or poor and thousands of money to spend - a cycle might end up with 0 eggs retrieved or 0 genetically-tested-normal/mosaic embryos) and you would still need to pay 15 thousand euro ëach time". and the transfer then? the transfer can not implant. people think "sure grant once you put it there obviously it'll stick"wrong. there's sooo much that can go wrong at every and each step of the IVF journey). People are so naive about IVF: they think technology is so advanced nowadays that your age for having a baby doesn't matter anymore. W-r-o-n-g. Sure nowadays they can do anything: donor eggs, donor sperm, donor womb. But would that be ok with you? Adoption is also possible. These choices are fairly extreme (and none of them easy: more traveling, money spent, time and stress) and not everyone is open to them.* you would like a more satisfying career. Fair. Does it have a body clock attached to it? No. Therefore it can wait and if you missed this one opportunity others even better ones may come up in the future.As a conclusion, I'd say to give yourself a deadline. Perhaps 32 is a good threshold. Until then, you can try a startup or other job options.Meanwhile though, do start "right now" doing all fertility tests "with your husband"to make sure that neither of you has any physical condition that might make your wish to conceive even harder. These are tests to check your ovarian reserve (AMH) the shape of your uterus and presence of any obstacles (like fallopian tubes closed etc) as well as motility and DNA problems in the sperm. This way at least you will know if it is ok to wait another bit until you're 32 or else best to start right now.
Have you considered egg freezing? I grew up in India, moved to the US when I was 25, met my future husband and got married at 26. I felt similar to you when I was 29. I had a hard time deciding if I should focus on my career or worry about my biological clock. Growing up with my family in India, I was trained to think that I had to have a child. But being away from my family exposed me to new thinking where having a child was optional. Both my husband and I were undecided about having children. So I decided to focus on my career. As I grew older, it became to more clear to me that having kids was not for me. I am 42 now, and I am happy with my decision.
ChitraFrench's profile thumbnail
I built up my career tech (travelled the world) and got married at 36 had two kids after there, my youngest when I was 39. I left the tech industry when I had my first child at 36. At age 41 I worked for myself and have worn several hats...I've owned an antique furniture shop, became a yoga instructor and did yoga camps for kids (both my kids attended), owned a tutoring center, went back to tech and worked for a semiconductor company and at age 52 I started software development company which I love and is doing quite well. I help startups in product development, MVPS, and production level products. So my advice- do whatever you need to due to your biological clock and then pursue your passions. It is never too late to start a business. My kids are both in college now and I spend a lot of my time helping my aging parents, travelling and work.