We lead our startup life with four young children (6, 4, 2 and 7 months). It is far from easy to combine startup life with family life but it's not impossible and I think there are so many positives about family being a part of a startup life.
It's all too easy to suggest that the best startup people are those without children or even partners. I can see why. You can work all the hours and have complete focus without having to think about anyone else. You can take financial risk without worrying about responsibilities to anyone else. You can move around the world if you need to without having to think about the practicalities of taking anyone else with you. And you can do all that networking without ever having to feel guilty about being out for yet another evening!
However, it's a wonderful thing to be able to share your startup adventures when you get home. To be able to share the ups and the downs, to feel supported in what you are doing because you are sharing the journey with someone else.
Having a family helps you get perspective on a lot of things in life and without a doubt helps you in startup life. When you are so committed to your work it can be so important to have something else that you love more. It doesn't always feel like we come first but I know we do! I think being a parent can also bring humility into your life and I think that is no bad thing in a startup.
Having children forces you to have some balance in your life. I love that. And I love that over the years Stef has worked harder at making sure he doesn't work ridiculous hours, 7 days a week. We do have plenty of family time and he's there for important little things like some school drop-offs and pick-ups, bedtime stories and plenty of monster drawing in the mornings. Sometimes we still have to work on the balance but without the children we wold both work so much more. Time off is so good for your startup, even if sometimes it doesn't feel like it. Family life also encourages you to eat well, keep healthy and look after yourself. Startups are notoriously fuelled by takeaways and packet meals.
Having a family keeps that startup drive flowing too. I'm not sure startup people really need anymore drive but if you are ever lacking in it, then there's nothing like being driven by wanting to provide for your family. Connected to that is the whole risk taking thing that comes with a startup. Having a family doesn't take away risk but it does make you think more responsibly about taking the right risks.
I am sure there are many ways in which family life can compliment startup life but I will end with creativity. Little children are so incredibly creative and are looking at everything with fresh eyes and amazing imagination. When you are surrounded by this you have the opportunity to join in, soak it up and tap into your own creativity and imagination. Plug that into your startup and watch the magic happen!
Startups can also be good for family life....but that's for next time! x