This question originally appeared on Quora: Is it possible to found a startup if you have three kids?
For me, having children was an advantage, not a disadvantage. I was 27 when I started Right Media and I had 2 children--ages 2 and 5 months. (I added 2 more along the way.)
People want to think that building a startup is an 18 hours a day, 7 days a week job--and there are definitely times that it takes that kind of commitment, but it is not a sustainable way to run your company. If you work round the clock all the time, you will not have gas in the tank when you really need it--like when your service is crashing and your customers are screaming bloody murder.
If I had been single and not had kids when I started my company, I suspect I would have worked longer hours as a rule. I suspect there would have been many more days where I worked way beyond my own usefulness, or sat staring at a screen trying to solve a tricky problem, when what I really needed was a 15 minute walk to the train to sort things out.
Having a family to go home to changed my perspective on what working hard meant. I would work like crazy ... but when I wasn't effective, or I was stuck, or I just really needed to be doing something else, I would leave the office and head home. I benefitted from the downtime and could come back to whatever problem was before me with a clearer head. My wife got some help (or a break) with the kids--and the kids got time with me.
You can do a startup with a family--you just need to be disciplined with your time and make sure you're not building a successful business at the expense of your family and relationship with your children.
One more thing. If you have young children, they're probably not going to have a lot to say about how many hours you're working at times ... but your spouse might. When you have to work late, or weekends, it has a big impact on the person carrying the load. Before you take the leap, make sure your spouse/partner understands the situation and is supportive. During those times when the workload became extreme, it would have been infinitely harder or impossible if my wife Michelle hadn't been completely supportive and understanding.
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