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Would you Marry an Entrepreneur?

My column in the July issue of the Entrepreneur magazine:

Would you marry an Entrepreneur?

This is my dream Bollywood script:

It’s a typical Indian arranged marriage ‘dekha-dekhi’ setting. The scene is set on the manicured lawns of a sprawling garden owned by the rich father, whose ravishing daughter is going to be introduced to the ‘boy’s side’. The mother, father and the girl are dressed in the finest clothes and are exchanging nonsensical pleasantries with the boy’s family. Finally, the girl’s father looks at the ‘boy’ with cloudy eyes and asks, “Beta, I hope you earn a lot of money! My daughter has lived her entire life like a princess and now I hope you can make her live like a Queen!”

The ‘boy’ chuckles, smiles and tells his future father-in-law, “Daeddy… actually I am going to live off your dowry and your daughter’s bank accounts! I am an entrepreneur! I don’t earn money… And I don’t know if I ever will…!”

What happens next is based on your imagination…

Seriously. Would you marry an Entrepreneur?

Let me crash headlong into a real life incident. In Oct 1999, as a first generation digital entrepreneur, I skipped visiting the hospital and escorting my wife and my newborn daughter (my second child) home, because that evening I was signing some term sheets of my first venture contests2win.com in the lobby of The Oberoi in Mumbai. My parents took my wife and two day old daughter home. My wife has never forgiven me for this incident.

So, let me ask you again – Should you marry an Entrepreneur?

OF COURSE YOU SHOULD!

But please keep in mind these hiccups:

What will the relatives say?

Imagine going to one of those insanely boring dinners that close relatives host for you and the ones that you just can’t avoid. What happens when the fat paunchy Mamaji (who has been selling steel rods since he was 11 years old) asks your spouse, “Beta, what do you do?”

Now, if I was the “Beta”, I would say, “Mamaji, even I don’t know! I thought I would make money selling virtual tyres in my virtual mobile car game, but my virtual consumers are not buying. They are driving my cars but they aren’t buying my 99 cents tyres. Sniff… sniff… do you have any ideas?”

Mamaji would probably spend the next 20 years making fun of me and telling everyone what an ass my wife has married.

What will the relatives say when you marry an entrepreneur? Well, even God doesn’t know!

The good? You would have married someone who has no care for charade and showmanship. He is someone who will be truthful, till death do you part.

Most entrepreneurs speak the truth and that’s a great qualification in itself.

Being madly in love – with someone else

Entrepreneurs are madly, crazily, passionately and lustfully in love with their business. They are not just in love; but they are insanely in love with what they have created. Hence, their venture is their FIRST love – irrespective of whether they married you last weekend, today or yesterday.

A young man in my company (clearly an entrepreneur in the making) was getting married on a Friday afternoon. I jokingly asked him, “Dude, how about working half day on Friday and then heading to your wedding post lunch?”

He quite seriously replied, “Alok, I think I can be at work till noon!” Obviously we forced him to take leave a week before he got married!

Is this in anyway a good thing? Well, it just reflects on the passion and commitment entrepreneurs have for their business or for their jobs. This later becomes their way of life.

Unlike job plodders, entrepreneurs really give everything they have to what they believe in. That’s a strength that is cultivated and cannot be bought.

Bread, Butter and errrr… Cake?

So, you married an entrepreneur. Will he be capable of making sure that there is bread plus butter on the table everyday? Let me be blunt – can your entrepreneur spouse afford to feed you??

Don’t just build your appetite on that promise.

Entrepreneurs honestly are crazy gamblers. Instead of betting on horses or fake IPL matches, they bet on their hard work, with a bit of luck thrown in.

Most of them don’t win the gamble, but manage to survive and make ends meet. But this also means that as a spouse, you should be prepared to manage your family finances by yourself, irrespective of whether your better-half-gambler spouse is striking it hot or not.

This is the lowest and toughest aspect of being wedded to an entrepreneur. In today’s ‘l-love-all-good-things-in-life-and-I-want-everything’ lifestyle…. being married to a potentially bankrupt homo sapien is not a very hot idea.

But let me tell you the flip side. Consider the real life stories of Steve Jobs or Dhirubhai Ambani or any successful entrepreneur you love. When their hard work ‘docks’ into the right opportunity, at the right time and place, then all the tables turn. Even then, they don’t bring the bread and butter home – they just go and buy the factories that make them.

When’s the “good news”?

Let’s flip sides for a bit. So, a couple of years ago, you married this really smart IIM-ABCDEFGHIJK banker guy who earns more that Carlos Slim (go figure) and is destined to be the next Warren Buffett. He is everything a girl could ask for and you got him. But professionally, you are an entrepreneur and have just launched your brand new e-commerce site of delivering made-to-order donuts within the city. The going is tough and the startup is killing you. Now, in between all this mayhem, your husband’s grannies and aunties (who’ve lost all their teeth but not their inquisitiveness) keep poking their elbows into you and asking, “So, beta, when is the good news?”

What they mean by ‘good news’ is NOT the good news you want! You want to hear that orders are coming in, there is virality to the site, the payment gateway is cruising and the delivery boys aren’t eating up your donuts on the way to delivery. The last thing you want to think of is when you will be in the delivery room!!

As an entrepreneur wife, you will have to ward off the silly and stupid pressures of delivering (pun intended) on the typical social pressures imposed on young married couples. If you are married to a woman entrepreneur you will have to be prepared to let your wife give birth first to her enterprise, before she gives birth to your kids!

What will the kids learn?

I have two daughters – aged 17 and 13. They have grown up with a bizarre, ‘weird’ entrepreneur dad around them for as long as they can remember. How has this impacted them?

Well, I may not be able to match the ‘perks and cars and houses’ that my kids’ friends’ ‘banker dads’ possess; but I have noticed that my kids are pretty inquisitive, street smart and bold when compared to a lot of kids their age.

Having a parent who never takes things at face value; who always examines how to create efficiency in every process; who demonstrates the ability to take calculated risks and measure its performance; and above all who always does something NEW all the time,creates a very positive impact on young impressionable minds.

Trust me when I tell you this – kids with a live and kicking entrepreneur parent will learn just as much as at home (or probably more) than they will learn at school.

Most importantly – kids brought up by entrepreneur parents will be supremely independent and capable of surviving forever.

Already thinking of your honeymoon?

Some people prefer going to the beaches, others like the mountains and some even prefer crowded, busy cities. But if you ever wanted to spend your honeymoon on a roller coaster, then marry an entrepreneur. Forgot the honeymoon – the marriage itself will be the ride of your life!!

******

Read ALL my other articles published in Entrepreneur mag HERE.

*********

First Published on: Jul 1, 2013

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36 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Niraj Patadiya

    Great read.. Made my day.. 😀

    The Bollywood script brought back some recent memories.. Imagine this real-life scene: I am 24 and recently met my girlfriend’s (who is now my fiancée) parents.. Before the meeting, she discussed about me with her dad.. He was impressed to know that I studied and worked in France before coming back to India ‘to find better opportunities’, and I come from a well respected family, etc, etc, etc.. But she missed to reveal a MINOR detail.. During the meeting when the question about my future plans popped up, her parents were shocked (quite literally) when I said, “I am looking to set up my own eCommerce venture in the personal computing space”.

    I can relate so much with the article.. Though I haven’t set up my own venture yet, I am in LOVE with my idea.. Her (and mine as well) relatives call me ‘crazy’.. I am sure my marriage is gonna be a hell of a ride and I would want my kids to be ‘supremely independent and capable of surviving forever’.

    Forwarding this article to my fiancée and her parents to let them know whats in store for the future.. 😉

  2. Profile photo of Khushboo Dodhia Vora

    awesome!!!

    Inspiring….

    Can totally related to it. I feel its just like my own story…

    I have a deadly combination with me entrepreneur marring entrepreneur !!!!!!

    keep posting. This gives us inspiration to work and move towards our goal despite of all odds….

    Regards

    Khushboo

  3. Profile photo of Rahul Chhajer

    Its been long time since I was here. But trust me this topic was worth a read by anybody, very well written, truly the journey would be the ride of your life !!

    A great start to the day, week and of-course month !!

  4. Profile photo of yuvraj wadhwani

    Sent a link to this article to my girlfriend, she would realize i’m not the only one 🙂

  5. Profile photo of Amey Asuti

    The moment I read the title, I emailed the link to my wife. Very well written, as usual.

  6. Profile photo of Rahul Chhajer

    One thing is for sure, this page will get maximum hits, as lot of us would be mailing it to our girl friends, fiancée, wives, in-laws and others to say the least..

  7. Profile photo of Anirudh B Balotiaa

    This is one post a million people with dreams in their eyes will instantly connect to!

    P.S – Alok, doesn’t the magazine mind you posting the entire article online, or is there a time frame once the issue is out and only then you can share it.

  8. Profile photo of Amit Dang

    I wrote a blog sometime back entitled “

    “Why doctors marry doctors..!

    http://dramitdang.blogspot.in/2011/07/why-doctors-marry-doctors.html

    I’m a doctor, an entrepreneur and ofcourse single…coz there is still somebody out there who needs to get lucky 🙂

  9. Profile photo of Darshan Bhambiru

    Wow!!  Happily Married though!!

    This really bring out the Pain, Pleasure and the Daily Grit of Entrepreneurship (Every)Days 

    • Don’t let your History interfere with your Destiny.
    • Don’t confuse your path with your destination. 
    • Destination, is merely the certification, of the fact that we had a great Journey!
    • Don’t dream a Life, Live a dream!!! 

    My Take from the Above, Since I am also part  of the same Boat. You always have a wonderful story to explain things and what better than getting Married to your Hearts Desire, it could also be a Life partner in the other sense 🙂

  10. Profile photo of Prashant Dang

    Amazing.. it made my day .. 

    Specially following para. 

    “But let me tell you the flip side. Consider the real life stories of Steve Jobs or Dhirubhai Ambani or any successful entrepreneur you love. When their hard work ‘docks’ into the right opportunity, at the right time and place, then all the tables turn. Even then, they don’t bring the bread and butter home – they just go and buy the factories that make them.”

  11. Profile photo of pavan srivastava

    wow excellent article could so much relate to it.

    A few days back only I was telling my mother when she was insisting on getting me married ,I said that “mummy koi ldki ni milegi mjhse shadi krne k liye,jaise hi btaogi ki mai business krne ja ra sb bhag jaenge ” 😛

  12. Profile photo of Amar Pratap Singh

    Hahh! Relieved, now I can get someone too to marry me 😛

    Awesome read, Thanks Sir !! 🙂

  13. Profile photo of Prakash Bala

    Just Plain Awesome Alok. How many would trade their “Build a House” Buy the Furniture'”, Go Overseas tours” cravings to Do something worthwhile and feel Awesome realities is a Question Mark. All of us live with our Ideas and hope to make it “one Day” and a supporting spouse would be a good beginning 🙂

  14. Profile photo of Lalitha Karthik

    As an entrepreneur couple – I just cant agree less; about aunties and grannies, uncle sons with banker/foreign jobs, about bread-butter-cheese, our kids and most importantly – our honeymoon (which never really happened – still waiting) 😀
    – I cant ask anything more than the life I choose!!! 10yrs and counting…

  15. Profile photo of Surbhi Bhagat

    Wonderful Article………..Its all the more interesting if Entrepreneur is a Woman and more Specially for Bachelor Entrepreneurs in the process of Finding the right match. Situation is even more complex with Typical Indian Bhartiya Nari Image that prevails 🙂 ……

     

  16. Profile photo of Surbhi Bhagat

    Truee

  17. Profile photo of Anamika Joshi

    This is pure OMG. Feeling superbly awesome.. and that’s the best thing with this article.. You have written what we wanted to say to everyone around us. And that too so aptly! Sharing the link 🙂

  18. Profile photo of Kamna Hazrati

    I will! 

  19. Profile photo of Bhumika Kaushal

    Hi Amit,

    I read your blog (link) mentioned in above….its lovely. Hope I am not late enough to mention (i.e. given the blog was posted in 2011 ) but, I must say you posses the quality of being a successful human being one day for sure because it take a lot of confidence and courage to write so, truthfully.

     Wish you all the very best 🙂 !

  20. Profile photo of Bhumika Kaushal

     Seems like a must read…. 🙂

  21. Profile photo of amir raza

    Sir ji! bas maze aagae… ! Bravo.. ! I can proudly say.. Alok is the secret of my energy! 🙂

  22. Profile photo of Kamna Hazrati

    🙂 I like this!Alok is the secret of my energy! 🙂

  23. Profile photo of Akshay Shah

    Had written a similar article a couple of years back on the growvc platform…

    Hope u guys like it.

    Akshay.

  24. Profile photo of Ashita Kohli

    My husband is a budding entrepreneur and he forwarded me this. Surely brought a smile on my face as I can relate with most of these incidents.  Fully Agree and SuperLike this write-up  ….

    Some people prefer going to the beaches, others like the mountains and some even prefer crowded, busy cities. But if you ever wanted to spend your honeymoon on a roller coaster, then marry an entrepreneur. Forgot the honeymoon – the marriage itself will be the ride of your life!!

    ………… No wonder an entrepreneur’s spouse should be given equal credit of his/her success…….as its with family’s  co-operation and understanding that one is able to ‘cherish’ the fruits of success and bear the loss of failure too…

  25. Profile photo of Prateek Shah

    I think more girls/guys will shy away from marrying entrepreneurs after reading this 😀 Quite a realistic and honest account of what life might be like! Guess its safe (and a little offensive) to say that Entrepreneurs are like ‘untouchables’ when it comes to the marriage market! Somebody should start off entrepreneurmatrimony.com – where crazy people meet crazy people to build ‘partnerships’ for life 🙂

  26. Profile photo of Surbhi Bhagat

    True…. I am into to Sign up to such a website 🙂 Tough time in locating a groom for an Entrepreneur Woman 🙂

  27. Profile photo of Surbhi Bhagat

    Like it 🙂

  28. Profile photo of amir raza

    🙂

  29. Profile photo of Prateek Shah

    Hope the bharatmatrimonys and the shaadi.coms are reading this! They should start something 😀 

  30. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    prateek… actually we do have a rodinhooder who runs a niche matrimonial site – http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/funding-required-for-matrimonial-company-trhs

    am sending him your idea and the link of this thread!!!

  31. Profile photo of Prateek Shah

    haha this is interesting Asha! Now i just hope this entrepreneur remembers to thank me when they list on the NYSE 😀 

  32. Profile photo of asha chaudhry

    anirudh, sorry i missed this comment.

    we normally post and promote this story right after the print version hits the stands. they carry it online (on their own site) after a good 3-4 weeks i believe…

  33. Profile photo of Dhwaj Shah

    Alok, what a fabulous read..! I can easily connect to this. 

  34. Profile photo of Sanjeev Malani

    Awesome post Alok! As a father of a marriageable son who is a  budding and struggling entrepreneur, I almost experienced this just a week ago! I wish I could paste a link to this post to the matrimonial site I have him registered in…

  35. Profile photo of Nikhil Aneja

    Awesome Post Alok 🙂

    I could relate it t every bit of my life going these days.

    When my girl friend’s parents finally decided that yes I was a perfect guy for their daughter, I was earning a decent salary of 80k pm. Now when I am Jobless (Startup entrepreneur), I gotta call from her mother on 25th Dec asking to finalize date of marriage and I was like “Are you serious”.

    I replied that I have recently left my job. I am hiring new people in company. I stay at my fellow Co-Founder’s place to save my time from daily up down from home. At least give me some time to setup and start earning again. Lets think and plan for July.(7 months denied 😛 )

    In the end she cut the phone saying that she’ll talk to my parents for marriage. (Ahhh Another trouble).

    Anyways hoping for best and sending link of this post to my girlfriend. 🙂

    Thanks

    Nikhil Aneja

  36. Profile photo of Inder J Singh

    Great read, indeed! Thumps up!

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