I’ve never built a startup company, but an experience I’m having right now comes close, I think.
Early yesterday morning, my wife Tenille gave birth to twin girls, launching me into a fresh round of fatherhood two decades after my two boys, now 20 and 18, were born.
In a rare (and soon-to-be-rarer) quiet moment after little Vela and Mae were born, it occurred to me that starting a family – or in my case, re-starting one – shares attributes with the startup experiences I’ve learned about since I joined Communitech nearly two years ago.
While I should probably be sleeping and not writing, it just didn’t feel right leaving View from the ‘Loo readers hanging as I get ready for a three-month leave to tend to my suddenly enlarged family.
In my absence, this space will carry the sage words and keen observations of a roster of guest columnists we’re assembling to carry us through the summer.
Until then, I hope you entrepreneurs out there will find a few grains of truth in the following parallels, as I sift the sands of my life in search of insights into yours.
Families, like companies, are built on risk. Nothing was assured and plenty could have gone wrong when Tenille and I set off on the path to parenthood. Our quest to have babies, which required intervention, meant we had to be willing to invest considerable time, effort, money, physical strength, mental toughness and emotional fortitude in a venture whose results were (and still are) far from guaranteed. Sound familiar?
The right partner is essential. My wife, like your co-founder, is awesome. Our strengths offset each other’s weaknesses. We share values and have similar backgrounds, so we easily understand and sympathize with each other. We have chemistry and we love spending a ton of time together. Having kids with the wrong person can lead to a lifetime of heartache, misery and expense. Choose wisely.
It’s not a great idea unless someone thinks you’re crazy. As a 46-year-old father of adult sons, I’ve been labeled nuts by old friends for plunging back into the world of diapers, drool and daycare. I guess they just don’t see what I see. So be it.
Bootstrapping is a recipe for strength and resilience. Just as the best companies are started on the founders’ sweat and a shoestring budget, the strongest kids are built on a foundation of free-of-charge breastfeeding, not expensive infant formula.
Fragility is a fact; commitment sees you through. It’s easy to fixate on a startup’s success and forget the years of tough slogging and tenuous existence that precedes it. Happy families are no different. Triumph over adversity comes from the founders’ – or the parents’ – commitment to see things through.
In failure lies opportunity. On Tuesday morning, neither Tenille nor I awoke thinking we’d be new parents the next day. Our babies weren’t due for at least three weeks, and we expected a routine obstetrical appointment in the early afternoon to be just that – routine. Instead, after a quick exam, our OB sent us home to get our things and head straight to the hospital to give birth.
My failure to anticipate this sudden turn of events means I left all my work gear at my desk in the Communitech Hub on Tuesday, from whence I walked to meet Tenille for the OB appointment. As a result, I was left with a nagging feeling of unfinished business throughout the day of my daughters’ births, thus creating the opportunity to write this very column – after midnight, alone, bathed in the glow of a computer screen.
In other words, just like a startup entrepreneur.