“After I have kids I will not want to start a company because I will be more risk averse.”
Ten years ago I believed this. It's a simple idea that sounds plausible, and I've heard it from others. Kind of makes you feel like you need to start a company before it's too late.
Except, now that I have kids, I can confirm it's wrong.
Not only is it never too late to start a company, but you'll do a better job as time passes and life happens.
For one, whether you have kids probably isn't the root cause of any increased risk aversion. A real root cause would be your burn rate and savings.
Yes, kids increase your spending, and if you're cutting it close with your savings then maybe a year with no or low salary will be riskier than before. But, if you've taken a few years to work before starting a family, then you will (hopefully) have greater savings than right out of school.
Another rationale I've heard for starting companies earlier is the time commitment. It goes something like, “Starting a company will take up a lot of my time that I could spend with my family, and I've seen how those movies turn out.”
This felt true when I was working weekends and longer days as a cofounder. But, in retrospect, I was also pretty bad at managing my time and being effective. Developing sustainable work habits is easier to do with the structure of a normal gig.
Having kids also forced me to get better at time management. My entire schedule was promptly determined by my first kiddo, with no wiggle room for procrastination or dalliances.
If you really want to start a company at 18 or 22 or whenever, go for it. Don't feel like it's the only or even best chance you'll get.
(Having kids did make me more risk averse to activities like jumping out of airplanes!)