The many benefits and zero disadvantages of a family-friendly startup ecosystem
The Nordic startup ecosystem has a huge potential of eliminating the need to choose between entrepreneurship and family - a tough choice that often goes hand in hand with early stage businesses and young entrepreneurs.
Healthy work-life balance does not have to be a privilege solely of the corporate world, according to leading Danish entrepreneurs. Because all the family benefits enterprises provide could easily be adapted and implemented into the startup world.
Providing a healthy work-life balance while keeping the wheels turning
Flexibility is key. Startups pride themselves in providing accommodating conditions such as the possibility for working from home, flexible or part-time work hours, among others. While these are “nice to have” for most, they translate into a very competitive package for parents who need a minimum level of flexibility in order to be efficient.
“In the Nordics, great companies like Spotify are increasingly moving the needle when it comes to work conditions – from agile teams to family considerations such as parental leave, the concept of life balance is increasingly the focus of experienced talent, and as such on the agenda of employers,” says Principal Marta Sjögren, Northzone.
Parents taking maternity and paternity leave are just as valuable employees as every other member of the team who knows the company and the product, and is experienced with what they do. Offering certain accommodations to ease the transition and balance between being a new parent and a full-time employee are well justified: reduced working hours or the possibility to work from home more often are a few of them.
CMO Jesper Brok-Jørgensen from Happy Helper used this flexibility as a key strength in attracting new talent. "We're fortunate enough to have just hired a new marketing manager. We couldn't match the salary offered by other companies, but what we could offer was the flexibility of working from home and a wide degree of autonomy in planning and executing his tasks to make it easier for him to balance a new job with the role of new parent."
Kill the cliché - you can run a startup and start a family
Yes, it is possible to grow your family along with your business, and vice versa. Louise Ferslev, founder and CEO of MyMonii, and a mother, says it’s crucial to “break down the notion that one cannot be a successful entrepreneur and a good parent at the same time”.
While society has gone a long way since women were viewed merely as mothers of their children, there is still a lot to be desired when it comes to combining parenthood and business aspirations. The solution is simple and it’s backed by laws which allow for both parents to take equal portions of maternity/paternity leave, or swap it between each other if needed.
What is more, parents need to know that their offspring are taken good care of while they work on their projects. How to achieve that? In Denmark for instance, the taxes people pay from their salaries are among the highest in the world. While this can certainly make it harder to attract international talent, one of the benefits is also that it allows for a high quality low-cost early-age child care and a free public education and health system.
Make it easy to relocate with family
A family-friendly ecosystem should make it easy for local as well as for international professionals to change cities or countries and join the company where they see themselves grow. Even when it means moving their family along with them.
Offering a relocation package or having a support system set in place is a basic way to provide for that. Moving to any Nordic country is quite an investment due to the high housing rates, among others. Another aspect of feeling welcomed as a foreigner means receiving access to the public health system, getting free language courses or simply dealing with bureaucracy.
And yet, the most important thing to start with is yourself. Making sure you feel ready for the challenge and adventure that is growing your family along with your business.