We recently had our second child a couple of weeks ago. His name is Ethan, and he’s truly a joy. Our other child, Milo, is 2.5 years old. I’ve occasionally read about how risky it is to raise a family while working at a startup; I also read about VCs not supporting startups whose founders are raising families. After having Ethan, I pondered these considerations quite a bit. Here are some of my thoughts on how raising children intersects with working at a startup.
Raising kids is always difficult, and yes, a startup is risky. But…
Raising kids is difficult, regardless of where you work. It’s also one of the most rewarding things I’ve personally experienced (and I’m certain many other parents will also agree). I get to be a part of raising and shaping somebody’s life. That’s exciting.
And yes, startups are risky. There’s always the chance of failure. But then again, how stable and safe is the ‘normal’ job path these days? I know plenty of people who are either getting laid off or moving away from toxic work environments toward something better. Everybody I know is always in motion with their career. In today’s economy, if you’re not moving, you’re stagnating. So, I’m not sure there’s any more risk working for a startup than having a non-startup job. I don’t have the numbers to back up my claim, but that’s my gut feeling.
The benefits of raising kids outweighs the perceived risk of working at a startup. And I suppose that if you’re working at a startup, you probably like to create and shape things in a positive way. In that regard, kids outweigh a startup any day of the week.
You can’t put off living
My wife and I wanted to have kids for quite a while, and planned accordingly. You simply can’t put off your life goals due to the type of work you have at the moment. Plan accordingly if you must. But if you can afford to do so and want to have kids, don’t put off important things such as raising kids. Life’s too short. Things have a way of working themselves out. Your job will likely not be around in 20 years. Your kids will be.
Also, I understand that some people may not be in a financial position to have kids in the near future. That’s understandable. But please plan accordingly. And if you have an “accident”, do what you feel is right for the situation. But understand that millions of people (maybe you?) were not planned, and somehow turned out just fine. Like I said, life has a way of working itself out.
Believe it or not, raising kids makes you more efficient
I’ve found myself much more efficient with my time now that I’ve got a family. It’s like the old saying goes – “You want something done? Give it to the busiest person”. Conversely, there’s Parkinson’s Law – “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In short, don’t worry. You’ll get things done.
If things go south, I’ll be fine
God forbid anything bad happen with my work. It’s a rad place and we’re working on great projects. But things can go south. Just like a ‘normal’ job, by the way.
To prepare for a job loss or any other unexpected negative event, we have a healthy emergency fund and enough cushion to keep us afloat for a while. If you don’t have an emergency fund, I highly suggest you create one. You need a minimum of anywhere from 3 to 6 months of living expenses. If you don’t have this, you really need one, regardless of whether you’re raising a family or live alone.
In the meantime, invest in your skills and network. The best investment you can make is in yourself. Again, whether you’re raising a family or not, you need to take control of your career and make it robust in the event of a job loss. You should have contingency plans already mapped out. That’s just part of being a responsible person.
- Have kids if you’re ready and able. Don’t hold off due to temporary factors such as where you work. Risk is everywhere. Learn to manage the risk and move ahead. Life’t too short
- You’ll be more efficient with your time (assuming you’ve got a modicum of time management skills).
- You should prepare for the worst anyway. The job market is risky, and it’s not just tied to startups. There’s risk everywhere these days. Have an emergency fund. Build your network. Invest in your skills. If you’re awesome, you should be fine in the event of an emergency.