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Question: How do you see a family (kids esp.) as a factor FOR starting a company? It’s taking risks but also more freedom (it depends ofc) at the same time. I also treat my employees as “family members” so providing for them is a huge stress for me. @ Telegram.

Answer:

My feeling is that the most important factor in starting a company is how strong is your internal motivation for doing so? Most people are very motivated when the just get the idea, and they suddenly decide to become an entrepreneur, just like “Mark Zuckerberg”. That is not the kind of “motivation” that I am talking about.

Most companies fail, and those who are successful have often been to the brink of death a number of times. Thus, when I talk about “internal motivation” – I like to call it your “engine”.

Motivation is bound to vanish at some point and perhaps re-appear at another. Sometimes it can happen a few times a day, where you wake up extremely motivated to go to work, only to lose it all when a colleague completely fails a project you were working on and blames you for it. However, an engine, if it is a good one, keeps on running as long as you give it some fuel. It does not really get affected by temporary decreases in motivation.

Strong entrepreneurs have a strong engine. Very often, however, this engine is of a “negative” kind. If for example, you naturally think that you are “not good enough” or “don’t have enough money and power” or “need to be successful to be loved”, then that will drive you to great lengths, as that is what you believe – will make you happy.

Having kids, and a family can indeed be one of those engines. After all, you are going to be trying to provide them with the best possible education, financial security, your physical presence, and everything they might need in order for them to be happy.

If that is the case, then to do that, you might very well want to start a company, as then you will push harder than most other entrepreneurs, as the cost of failure is very high in both practical terms and in terms of thinking of yourself as a failure in front of your child.

Of course, then there is the risk that one day your child will tell you: “You kept working the whole time, and never gave me the love that I needed.”

Children tend to find a way to be “traumatized” by parents, virtually no matter what they do.

Therefore, I would say that children and family can be a very strong motivator for starting a company, but I personally also believe that working on figuring out an engine that is independent of anyone, and anything is a goal worth pursuing. Bonus points for not having one that is fueled by “fear” or “negativity”.

For, as I have personally experienced, when you achieve the goals and desires of your “negatively” fueled engine – making yourself do almost anything is virtually impossible. Until you find that other engine – that is.

When that happens, your family can still be of great support, but of a different kind. Then you no longer use them as a source of motivation but as a system of “checks & balances” on whether you are doing what is right.

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In addition, I would like to briefly address the second part of your question. On the one hand, it is surely a good thing that you care about your employees, but if you care too much – you might be depriving them of their own learning opportunities, and taking away their freedom and responsibility.

Yes, they are your family, but it is not your responsibility to provide for them, it is their own. If you feel like you need to, then you are essentially saying: “you are not good enough to do it on your own, here let me do it for you.”

Which will inevitably lead to them under-performing, as that is the level that your “caring” will set.