So as another friend from high school has another baby I can’t help but think of the contrast between my overwhelming, daily thoughts and what I would guess to be his. Background – I’m living in a 1200 sqft apartment in New York City with 5 roommates, and starting a web based business, ShelfMade (Please click through, read about it and sign up for the beta launch). My closest friends, for the most part, live great lives in the suburbs and have steady jobs.
Here is a quick comparison between having a child and starting a business (is there anyone that could possibly do both?)
1. Commitment: Building a successful business takes commitment, but raising a child really takes commitment. If a startup isn’t working and isn’t going to work you can walk away tomorrow and lose some time and money. With a child you are stuck. I mean you have to take care of the kid for at least 7 or 8 years until he can fend for himself.
2. Investment/Return: In some ways kids and startups are a lot alike. If you live on a farm in Nebraska, children have a tremendous ROI. Feed them and make them watch Big 12 football for about 14 years and all of a sudden you get free labor. If you pace the pregnancies correctly you can literally have a never ending supply of maturing labor. That is a seriously long term investment though. Ask any startup entrepreneur what he will be doing in 14 years and he’ll have no idea, but it sure won’t be watching the sunset in Nebraska.
3. Investment/Return Part 2: In America I believe that it’s technically illegal to invest in a child, but let’s run the numbers. For Instance you invest time and money for 15 years to cultivate the best golfer ever who can earn around$25 million a year at the age of 21. But this definitely isn’t certain or even probable. I would say for the average person you have a 1 in 10,000 chance of raising and training the best golfer in the world.
So that means you have invested 20 years worth of food and coaching into an asset that will average a return of $25,000 a year (and those are 2028 dollars).
How is this different for a startup. You invest time and money and you build expertise, you make connections and you learn. Working on a business increases your network and improves the chance that you will succeed on subsequent attempts. Additionally the cycle is much shorter and the payouts are larger.
4. Sex: Hmm I guess either way you are gaming on a girl that is slightly overweight and letting someone else suck on her nipples.
5. Quality of Life: If quality of life means small talk, watching Big Brother every Tuesday night and keeping quiet so the baby can sleep then the nod goes to having a baby. I think a better definition for quality of life means experiencing a range of emotions. Is there anything more thrilling, frustrating, exciting and depressing than a startup.
6. Parental Pride:
7. Pain: If you’re a guy it is definitely more painful to start a business. If you’re a girl it is probably more painful to start a business.
8. Legacy: This is a tough one. It’s obviously possible to have a really great kid (like me), but it is also possible to build a business that could outlast any family name or affiliation. I think this goes back to commitment, you can always drop a business, but your deadbeat kid is still going to ask for money when he’s
30 29. Hi Mom and Dad. Also take into account that if your first business is a success, your second business has a greater chance of succeeding and surpassing. This has to skew the numbers a bit.
9. Timing: What has a greater likelihood? Starting a company at 30, selling it at 36 and then starting a family. OR Having a child at 30 raising it for 6-15 years and then deciding to start a business.
So I am obviously biased here. I think the point to takeaway is that there is no right answer, you have to follow your path, whatever that means. Most of my friends would disagree with nearly everything that I said.
I think one thing we can all agree on is that the cigar tradition needs to return. Of all my friends with children I was never sent or smoked one cigar for the baby. At the upcoming ShelfMade launch there will be cigars to go around.