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7 dark secrets of Entrepreneurs – Revealed.

As featured in the September 12 issue of the “Entrepreneur” (India) Magazine.

Think you know entrepreneurs? Ha! Think again! These are seven dark secrets that entrepreneurs will never reveal about themselves:

1. Entrepreneurs are insecure.

For many years, I felt insecure.

First about not being an engineer, but just a lowly B.Com graduate. Then about not being an MBA while all my friends became one. Next came a sinking feeling of not having worked for a Fortune 500 Company (I worked in my dad’s socks factory for twelve years).

It was only when I broke out and became an entrepreneur that this feeling started fading. I tasted some success that made me feel somewhat secure and confident of being able to survive in the otherwise ‘formatted for success’ world.

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.

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.

4. Entrepreneurs are about the glory, not about the money.

I always told my wife that I would be really elated the day I made my crore rupees and that “life would change after that”.

I made one crore in a sale transaction 6 years ago and I still remember working doubly hard that day. Nothing changed the next day or the week after. And as I see it, nothing will change in the decade to come.

I realized that entrepreneurs do what they do for the glory of it. The money just happens and gets silently ignored.

5. Entrepreneurs are those people who walk into dark basements with the lights off.

Whenever I see a movie where a person who hears a noise slowly starts walking down into a dark basement with no lights (to investigate), I get the jeebie-jeebies.

It’s just that very often, entrepreneurs love chasing ideas and concepts till the very end. Almost fanatically, like someone obsessed; oblivious to fears and dangers to the point of almost getting killed in the bargain.

In the beginning of my entrepreneurial career, I would call 500 clients everyday and say, “Hi, I’m calling from contests2win.com, can I meet you?” No one bothered to speak to me, forget meet me. But I just kept on calling, ignoring the dark fear that I may not have been on the right path in the first place.

6. Entrepreneurs don’t mind their own business. They want to mind yours.

My wife and kids have given up on me.

It’s because at a restaurant, I lecture the manager on how to speak on the phone. Or because I spend forty minutes at a premium clothes store explaining to the saleswoman, how she should sell shirts to men. When the person at the toll booth doesn’t have change, I have a problem. When the car showroom sticks a ‘serviced at x garage’ sticker on my car – the manager, his boss and boss’s father get a lecture on how they cannot treat other people’s cars as media properties.

Entrepreneurs just can’t keep their noses to themselves.

They have to poke and intrude into other people’s business, and that’s not because they are curious or jealous; it’s because they want to participate in the other person’s business. They want to contribute and they want to inspire that entrepreneur to be the best.

7. Entrepreneurs love C.S.I

I love C.S.I (the investigative programme on TV). It’s not because I love to solve crimes, but because I love detail. I love the nitty gritty, the tiny hooks and sinks, the finger printing of attention, the DNA analysis of ‘why’!

In my father’s factory, I spent years writing an algorithm that calculated the cost of everything that went into making a sock – including the cost of the electricity of the lightbulb in the watchman’s bathroom.

Details are the ocean in which entrepreneurs swim to find hidden treasures.Sometimes the treasures are found and sometimes not, but the addiction to detail just becomes permanent. 

Entrepreneurs are dangerous, lonely, crazy people. They are like Vampires. Either you stay away from them, or become them.

*******

First Published on: Sep 3, 2012

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52 Comments

  1. Wow ! This such a good read ! I am no entrepreneur & have no plans to be one in the near future or till the time I have a “Great Value ” idea….I still enjoy reading your posts immensely.

    Thanks for the great inspiration/stimulation.

  2. This is fantastic! I particularly identify with the going into the dark basement point! 

  3. Hi Alok,

    I think entrepreneurs are also very stubborn and moody.

    Good post!

  4. ah! one of my faves…

    🙂

  5. Awesome…got the jeebie-jeebies reading it!!!

  6. bravo !!! 

    so well put — have nothing more to add but applause !!

    — “god is in details”

  7. Alok Sir…This Blog helped me to understand by Strengths and also my Areas of Improvement with regards to an Entrepreneur.
    I have worked with some Top brands at some good Positions…..But it was all lonely.

    Never felt as Confident as I am now after being an Entrepreneur for past 2 years. Have started Living and Enjoying my Life More.

  8. Alok

    Thanks for this one! I got several answers for myself(why I act in that way). And yes Entrepreneurs are selfish as their family includes everybody who depends on them for running their home and not only immediate family members.

  9. Entrepreneurs can also be very Blunt when it comes to their work..

    And I also won’t shy away from saying that I haven’t enjoyed any other post of yours in a while, as much as I did reading this one.. 🙂

    Strikes straight into the Heart.. Superb..

  10. Alok, I read this and somehow the only thing which came to mind is not just “Absolutely !” but strangely enough a song came to mind which sort of summed it for me.
    Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday and especially this piece which goes like …
    “ I walk a lonely road
    The only one that I have ever known
    Don’t know where it goes
    But it’s home to me and I walk aloneI walk this empty street
    On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
    Where the city sleeps
    and I’m the only one and I walk alone.”

  11. Bang on……. So True… Seven Stars to you Alok Sir 🙂

  12. I had a hearty approving laugh after reading this. So darn true! 🙂 A great read.

  13. Yet another amazing read.

  14. 6. Entrepreneurs don’t mind their own business. They want to mind yours.

    JUST WOW

  15. Awesome !….Super-like ….Really enjoy to read all your articles ..This 1 is also the best 1 of them….. me to in startup stage of mine own ventures….Wish me good goodluck….

  16. good luck!!

  17. ….the most superb lines ..i have read…AND IT GOES SOO WELL….”They sell proposals to themselves in the shower and negotiate term sheets in their mind while they are eating sev puri” THE LINES….are…soooo much true….:P ……:D…

  18. Brilliant Work Alok, Completely Enjoyed reading it .

  19. Over the months that I’ve followed your writing, I have come to adore your articulation.

    This one is, again, spot on. Especially point #6 – oh, how many times I’ve taught ‘business’ to others – restaurants, vacations, cafes… Just can’t stop thinking value any time!

    BRILLIANT!

  20. Respect 🙂

  21. 🙂 thanks man. god is kind. obo. jgd

  22. so true.

    if you observe from point #1 to point #7…the flow shows the evolution of an entrepreneur.

    from being insecure and lonely (startup)  –>    glory (success)   –>     mind others business (confidence)   –>  loving details (spirituality).

    Thank you so much Alok!  🙂

    Wanna send you a Rodinhood T-shirt for such a wonderful note!!!!

     

  23. Entrepreneurs are always hungry 🙂 🙂  need seven more secrets 

  24. Loved it 

  25. This is awesome. One of my favorite. 

  26. I identify with most of what you write may be the Degree varies

  27. Could relate a lot with you here, Alok – be it CSI to something which I have done with my family not be so proud of to poking noses at places where one should have kept quite. I feel I need to write a post on my side to this sometime soon!!! Will attempt soon!!!

  28. great read. I thought i was odd to be like that, good to know that these are common trait. i like Bones instead of CSI btw, for the very same reason.

  29.  In a sense Entrepreneurs are selfless, they see a pain somewhere and wonder why people need to live with the pain anymore as there can be a way to battle the pain. The journey starts from there to give something best to the mankind, to make things better and money, success and rest material things just happen. Though its not that easy as it may sound as written here its a painful journey to take away pains from people’s lives but entrepreneurs do that happily.  

  30. I expected a lot more dark secrets as soon as I read the headline 🙂 May be they are confined to me only. But yes, the ones revealed here have only brought a smile on my face thinking that it’s fine to have these fears… Because at the end, you could be an Alok Kejriwal 🙂

    Ok here are my particular fears – 

    – Are the people working under me finding it interesting enough? I have this habit of constantly analyzing my own words said to my employees and studying the behavior of them just to ensure they are loving each and every moment at my work place And this I feel is abnormal as it sidelines the priority which is my business.

    – Also I have this constant issue of analyzing whether or not people are working worth the money they are taking back home? We entrepreneurs can’t stand irresponsibility, casual attitude towards work and lack of self-motivation in people.

    – I have this fear of being too casual or overly strict in my interaction with my employees. I guess we entrepreneurs constantly try to be somewhere in the middle in our ways, which is like juggling or walking on a thin rope. 

    – We are great fun lovers. We wish to dance, sing out loud and even go for a movie once in a while, but we fear if that’s exactly what we should do at a time when we should be hunting for new clients or satiating the expectations of our existing ones.

    – We entrepreneurs have a little child inside us. That’s because we are full of enthusiasm and as Alok ji said, we are not too afraid of the dark. But it’s very rare that we get our chance to bring out this child out to open.

    – Our friends feel we are doing business and so our pockets must be full. The fact is our pockets are usually heavy with unpaid invoices, pending payments and many more to-do lists. Also we never take back home any salary as they religiously do. But whenever there is a party, we as entrepreneurs don’t want this secret to be revealed and hence end up paying the bills even before anyone could attempt for it.

    This could be individualistic fears and there are many more to be shared. May be next time.

  31. Superb post Alok..almost describes me when I am about to become an entrepreneur 

  32. wonderful explanation of the insecurities of Entreprenuer. It takes courage, belief, never say die attitude, commitment, ablility to take risk to be a successful entrepreneur and most of these are tested for any weaknesses often.

  33. You are a gifted writer and orator….. nice write up

  34. It’s 100% true in my case i am an entrepreneur for last 3 years. Frankly speaking i registered as a member after reading this article and especialy this article says about my feelings which was hidden in my mind for last two years. Over all good article. Thanks to Alok.

    Regards,

    Saravanan

  35. Same Pinch 😀

  36. Thanks again Alok for another lovely article. Pts 2 & 3 certainly struck a personal chord. However, here’s why I would encourage you to consider re-titling “3. Entrepreneurs are selfish” to “3. Entrepreneurs Desperately Need to Prioritize their Time”:

    On the working day on which my baby came into the world, I remember taking some 2 hours off from the office – more than 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 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 you to definitely “forgive” yourself on this count. 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…..

  37. Sorry, I just feel so guilty that I cannot forgive myself for that incident.

    I am sure Neeraj Bhargava would have accepted that I could have signed the next day!

  38. It seems someone is echoing my inner voice. It’s the insecurity, kind of isotope of dissatisfaction, which drives me till date, didn’t allow me to sit comfortably, even when I had everything abroad. And now, as a bankrupt, when I am chasing my dream and learning unexpected lesson from the market, I feel serene. Can’t explain why and how, but feel a bit secure hearing I am not alone in this planet who feels the same.      

  39. Gr8… I would say just awesome and True!!! 😉

  40. Alok

    Really you made my day!! As I discuss my future beyond 9-5 job, I do get alll these kind of vibes from them, This blog has made my guilt a lil’less now 

    Thanks again man!!

  41. Entrepreneurs speak to themselves in their sleep. They sell proposals to themselves in the shower “

    I am not alone……………. 🙂

  42. As always, pleased to read your feelings. I Second You. I don’t have friends anymore but a strong professional network. Wife complains for being on phone/internet all the time.

  43. Awaiting for the biopic made on you! 

    Or on an “An Entrepreneur”, directed by you. 

    Obo. 

  44. 500 calls a day. Please do share how you managed to get all your work done. Seriously, please!

  45. Great post Alok. When people see successful entrepreneurs they relate this to only money. Only a fellow entrepreneur can understand what he has gone through to achieve this success. 

  46. amazing.. especially Point No. 6. I just recently read a eulogy by Steve Jobs’ sister Mona Simpson, and there was a similar moment when he was in hospital getting treated for cancer that he sketched designs  for hospital fluid monitors and x-ray equipment that he felt would improve their usability. Its probably in the DNA of an entrepreneur!

    Am posting the link to that here 

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/mona-simpsons-eulogy-for-

  47. Awesome and am glad I read it this morning as opposed to yesterday… a good beginning to the day.

    Adding my bit… short stint on my own… great learning that I apply in my work n life now 🙂

    Entrepreneurs are GREEDY… to do more… to be more… present everywhere…. AND

    they never SHY AWAY from ANYTHING!!

  48. Hi Alok,

    The article gives hope but also scare the hell out of you if you think of walking the entrepreneurs path. But again, a dialogue from a movie I was watching recently “Risk to spiderman ko bhi lena padta hai aur main toh sirf ek salesman hoon”.

    I am not sure if and when i will start something, but till then these articles of yours keep the entrepreneur fire burning in me. Maybe someday soon!!

    Thanks!!
    Avinash

  49. This is awesome writing! You just can’t stop if you start reading it once.

  50. Except point 6 & 7, I could relate myself to all the points 🙂

  51. Fantastic as always. Loved to read and reflect.Thx.

  52. Respect Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal 🙂 

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