September 11, 2012

Should an Entrepreneur Bring Home the Baby or the Bacon?

Bring home the bacon
1. To earn a living, especially for a family.
2. To achieve desired results; have success.

In one of his latest posts titled 7 dark secrets of Entrepreneurs - Revealed, Alok Kejriwal (as usual) provides a lot of material for reflection at the same time making it an easy read.
2. Entrepreneurs are lonely.

Honestly, entrepreneurs are their own best friends.

Yes, family comes close and there is almost a reverse dependency on family (I feel I depend on my wife and 2 daughters more than they depend on me), but there is really no one else.

Maybe I speak for myself, but the gigantic tasks of the day leave no room for hanging out with friends or acquaintances. In most cases, it’s going out with the office crowd.

Entrepreneurs speak to themselves in their sleep. They sell proposals to themselves in the shower and negotiate term sheets in their mind while they are eating sev puri. There is little time for other friendships. Here are a couple that particularly struck a chord:

3. Entrepreneurs are selfish.

I can never forgive myself for one incident.

Neither can my wife. The day my younger daughter was born was also the day I was supposed to sign my final shareholding agreements to close my first round of funding. I chose to sign those documents instead of bringing my wife and new born baby back home from the hospital.

This just pointedly shows how selfish entrepreneurs are.

Personally, while I completely relate with the "Entrepreneurs are lonely" part (including the "reverse dependency on family"), I wonder whether Point 3 should be re-titled "Entrepreneurs Desperately Need to Prioritize their Time".

On the working day on which our baby came into the world, I remember taking some 2 hours off from the office - half of which was probably spent in the commute. The reason I could afford to hold the baby in my hands for just a few (nervous) minutes (before gingerly handing back to the doc) was - again - family: with my wife's mom and my mom around to take care of anything else (and my wife needing to rest), what was it that I was going to achieve by sticking around?

With that familial support available, my best contribution (including to the less-than-1-day old baby) could only to be back at my job. Obviously, one looks forward to the many joyous personal hours to be spent with the child in the months and years ahead, but is it "selfish" to be working/heading back to work at that time? I don't think so - it's just where the entrepreneur's time is best spent at that point. So, I would encourage Alok to forgive himself. As an entrepreneur, you just did what comes naturally - prioritize. Your child obviously will never hold that "selfish act" against you. On the other hand, you better reserve time (work or no work) in the years ahead. Or else.....

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers.