Best Place To Start A Company (If You Have Kids)

A few weeks before Robyn and I moved to Vancouver Island we were delighted by the wonderful (and unexpected) news that a baby was on the way. Our move to the island was for adventure, a better climate and to start the next chapter in our lives. But knowing we now had a baby coming really made us second guess our decision to move.

pregnant.jpg

We had some family where we lived: my brother and his family, some cousins, and a great network of long-time friends. We would have been set as far as a sense of community goes.

We moved anyways. We were stupid.

I figured that I could grow my consulting company from anywhere but I didn’t factor in how much it was going to suck having a baby, in a new city, with no family around.

Then something amazing happened. Family moved here.

One of the great things about Vancouver Island is that it is stunningly beautiful and has the warmest climate in Canada which means it’s easy to attract visitors. It only took 2 years before family members started moving here, one after the other, and now our kids have grandparents (from both sides) within minutes. One of my brothers soon followed with his family and now I have nephews just down the street. It is my hope that it won’t be the end of new arrivals either (hint hint for family members reading this *ahem* big brother *cough cough*).

We didn’t plan all this family being here, we just got lucky.

If we were still the only ones here (8 years later) we just might have upped and left by now.

 Location, Location, Location

In the startup community there’s always debate whether you should be in a startup hub or not.

If you feel the need to uproot your family to be in a startup hub, I can see the appeal. It’s just not an option for me. As an entrepreneur you need a personal network but as a parent-entrepreneur you also need a family network.

And it’s a growing trend amongst other parent-entrepreneurs. People are either starting companies right where they are, outside of the typical startup hubs, or they are choosing to move to where they have a family network.

I asked my friend Dan Martell (father, husband, & entrepreneur) about using him as an example in this post and he sent me this back via e-mail:

“It’s why I decided to move back to Moncton, NB from San Francisco. Having a support network and family around allows me to be a more focused entrepreneur.”
— Dan Martell

 Family has your back.

Even though we don’t cash-in family favours every week, there is peace of mind knowing that the family that lives near us has our back. When I actually do have to travel for work I know that the family has my wife’s back. If I need to work extra hours, I know my kids have lots of family members that love them who are available to them. I can send the wife away on a trip and know that I got it covered because we have family members to help out if I need them.

 “That’s fine for Jeff”

OK so you’ve got kids, have a growing business and you’re nowhere near family. Or maybe you just don’t like your family. Well the next best thing would be to start putting down roots and awfully quick too. When we moved here we didn’t have any family but we joined prenatal classes, baby groups and community activities. We’ve made some of our best friends through the local community. If you don’t have family, adopt/make new family members from your community.

 Working from home, happiness, and distributed teams

This whole thing is becoming easier as remote work is becoming more accepted and desired. If you want access to the best talent you need to look beyond your local geography. There is no need in software development to have your talent right where you are. You, your business partners and employees can be more productive and happier if they can choose where they want to live and maybe even *gasp* work from home.

Related reading:


PS. I tweet about startups/family stuff and you should follow me on twitter here.

 
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