5 reasons why running a startup is NOT like being a father

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There are countless blog posts out there that explain why having children is like running a startup - because they keep you up at night, because they require a lot of attention early on, and because you'll spend several years teaching them how to be self-sustaining

Now, I’ve been a father for two fantastic years. I’ve also been an entrepreneur; I founded ElementM, a startup-focused on consulting and business development outsourcing company, in 2010, and ran it for almost 2 years until I joined Wamda. I don’t claim to know everything about being a father, or a founder, but here are 5 reasons why I think running a startup is NOT like having a kid:

  • There’s no exit. Even if you want to, once you’re a father, you’re in it for life. Some entrepreneurs might not necessarily care about exiting their startups, however, they do have the option to.
    Fathers don’t. I look at my father, and all of the fathers and grandfathers I know; their “kids” might be 20 or 40 or 60 years old and it still feels like they’ve just taken on their role as a father.

  • You can’t pivot. Pivoting is one of an entrepreneur’s most lauded skills, an ability that’s necessary for survival. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have, in fact, ended up doing something completely different than what they initially planned to.
    Yet a father can’t have a kid and then decide that they would prefer his or her personality to be completely different. Well, you can try, but you’ll only get so far. It’s best to simply accept who they are and try to steer them in the right direction.

  • Fundraising won’t make your job easier. Of course, fundraising doesn’t necessarily make an entrepreneur’s life easier, but at least it helps founders hire, scale up, expand operations, and get paid more (or just get paid at all).
    Fatherhood, however, is mostly about what money can’t buy: time, undivided attention and genuine care and support. Pouring money alone into your kid will most likely yield bad side effects.

  • You won’t get any credits in the media. Entrepreneurs are the darlings of the media (at least at Wamda). Start, fundraise, reach a milestone, exit, fail; whatever you do well, chances are you can pitch a story to the media.
    Fathers, on the contrary, get almost no credit at all, regardless of how good of a job they’re doing.

  • Your mom will be proud of you. I’ve always enjoyed our CEO Habib’s line:  “Behind every successful entrepreneur is a mom who thinks that her kid is crazy for not taking a safer job.” I’m sure you all remember your mother’s reaction when you told her that you were about to start your own business (especially if that meant quitting an already rewarding job!).
    Tell your mom you’ll become a father, however, and you’ll turn into an instant hero, even if you’ll do a terrible job at it!

I wish all father entrepreneurs a great Father’s day, especially the best entrepreneur and father I know: Dad, thank you for everything!

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