Vicky and I welcomed our beautiful daughter to the world on May 14, 2015. At that time I recognized that I’m now the co-founder of two startups – ribl and baby Maya!
The more often I perform my fatherly duties, the more I realize that raising a child is very similar to running a startup. Here are the three major ways they’re alike.
There’s no playbook for this stuff
There is no shortage of books and internet articles about other founders’ experiences with startups and what they’ve learned. Entrepreneurs publish posts on their own blogs or write articles on sites like Medium and Quora that communicate what they’ve learned running their companies and things that worked and didn’t.
Similarly, there are plenty of websites like Parenting.com and BabyCenter.com where experts provide insight on how to raise your children and parents ask questions and tell their stories about their experiences rearing their kids.
In both worlds, there are some standard guidelines that you can follow but in the end, every situation is different. You need to experiment and try different things to determine the best decision for your particular circumstance. The issues that you’ll face running your startup are going to be different than the next entrepreneur’s, just like your child is going to be different than that of the family down the street. You can read all of the advice but just make sure you’re applying the correct information to your particular situation to make the best decision possible.
Both are absolute roller coasters
I’ve been an entrepreneur for about three years and it’s been a roller coaster of emotion, with a bunch of highs and just as many lows. I’ve only been a dad for a week and I’m already finding out about the peaks and valleys of parenthood.
I wrote on the ribl blog that startups are a slog, and running a company is full of little things that you have to do every day to keep moving forward. There are going to be days when you’re 100% sure that you’re doing the right thing and will absolutely succeed. And then there will be days where it seems like you’re climbing a never-ending mountain. The good days are great, but the bad days can be absolutely miserable.
Raising a child is also full of little things to do each day, and many can give you joy or ruin your mood. It’s a great feeling putting Maya to sleep; Vicky and I claim victory every time she’s napping in her crib. But her wailing during the wee hours of the morning is not the way we prefer to wake up, and we’re absolutely exhausted because of it. I’m sure as the days, weeks, and years go on, there will be plenty of good and bad to come.
The only way to deal with the roller coasters of emotion is to celebrate the highs, as small as some of them may be, and not get too down when the lows come around.
The right co-founders are really, really important
Running a company and raising a kid are both extremely difficult to do alone. And doing these with the wrong partner may be just as bad.
Paul Graham, the founder of top-tier startup accelerator Y Combinator, lists being a single co-founder as the #1 mistake that kills startups. He also says that you have to be really careful in selecting and working with the right co-founder. Startup co-founders need to be equally committed to the company and must work well together; the wrong partners can lead to your company’s demise. I’ve experienced this personally.
The same can be said for raising a kid. Rearing a child can be a really intense experience. It’s essentially another full time job and adds a completely foreign dimension to your life. You and your spouse or partner need to be on the same page and work really well together in order to raise a healthy and well-rounded child and not lose your minds doing it.
I’m lucky to have amazing co-founders in both of my startups.
I’m quickly learning how similar being an entrepreneur and a father are. Both entail processing a lot of advice and applying it to my specific situation, dealing with ups and downs everyday, and working together with my partners to achieve the best outcome.
Both of my startups are going to be long journeys on winding roads, but I’m going to enjoy the rides.